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Book Review: I know how she does it

July 26, 2015
Find more time to enjoy the sunsets

Today’s book review is of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, by Laura Vanderkam. Those of my readers who know me in real life will know that I have recently started a new job (hence the lack of blog posts here). As always happens in a new job, the start-up costs in terms of time, to get on top of things, can be a bit daunting, so I’ve been thinking quite a lot about time management. I only had time to read this book because of a prearranged holiday shortly after I started. Laura Vanderkam writes about productivity. For this book, she found women with children who were earning more than $100,000 a year, and asked them to keep a detailed journal of their time for a week. The insights from those 1,001 days (each 24 hours long) are fascinating. Part…

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Appointed Actuary – a cross practice discussion

May 14, 2015
Appointed Actuary? Not a robot

I’ve blogged about the role of the Appointed Actuary before – here and here. My own view has been that we need to positively define the role of the Appointed Actuary, and that, at least in life insurance, it should be closer to the first line of defence (ie managing the business) than second or third line. As I noted in this blog previously, the Actuaries Institute set up a task force (of which I was a member) to make recommendations about the role. Our report can be found here. The major recommendations, summarised at the end of this post, include a positive…

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How big is the indigenous gap?

May 10, 2015
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This week’s Economist has a sobering article about the gap between black and white america. It included a graphic of various statistics, showing the difference between black and white america on a range of measures. It also showed how the two compared with various countries around the world – for example, the life expectancy at birth of black americans is closest to that of Tunisia, whereas for white americans, it is closest to life expectancy in Chile. I wondered how Aboriginal Australians compare so I’ve compiled the table above.  I’ve reviewed many of these statistics before, but I was still…

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ANZAC Day – A family story

April 25, 2015
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On Anzac Day, it seems a good time to remember one of the soldiers in my family – my grandfather. He was lucky – he came back, and had five children and lived a long life after the war, even though he was wounded. I never met him, as he died when I was three. But I’ve seen some of the (quite dangerous) souvenirs he brought back from the war, and heard stories about him all my…

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ICAAP – Lessons Learned

April 21, 2015
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On Wednesday this week (22 April), I am part of a panel discussion on ICAAP – comparing and contrasting the experience across the banking, life and general insurance industries. I’m representing life insurance. This post summarises the points from my introduction. I’ll come back and update with any interesting points from the panel discussion. Challenges in implementation Life insurers had to introduce ICAAP from 1 January 2013, which meant we had to have an approved…

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Parental leave – some good developments

March 22, 2015
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I’ve written a few times about how progressing women in the workplace also involves more change than just the workplace. Annabel Crabb puts it best: In focusing so hard on encouraging women to lean in, we’ve neglected to convince men of their entitlement to lean out once in a while. In my post about progressing women in leadership, I made a similar point: … a sustainable increase in the proportion of women in leadership roles in…

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International Women’s Day

March 8, 2015
Source: Economist

On International Women’s Day, I’ve been too busy enjoying the various panels at All About Women to write anything particularly deep or meaningful. So here are a few links. First, just as last year, The Economist has published a glass ceiling index. Sadly, Australia has dropped down this year below the OECD average. As last year, Australia’s best attribute is our percentage of women in senior managerial positions at 36.7% of the total (a number that seems…

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Actuarial Hackathon

March 3, 2015
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This is a guest post from my colleague, Zhan Wang, who was one of the organisers of our actuarial hackathon for our actuarial team. It was inspired by a number of the responses to this post, that asked how a team of actuaries could help the community. On Friday 13th February we hosted a ‘Hackathon’ volunteer day to give back to the community.  The aim of the day was to utilise analytical skills that actuaries…

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Ebola – Actuarial insights

March 1, 2015
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The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is not over yet. But there have recently been a few cautious articles suggesting that it is getting better, and that perhaps the worst is over. The Economist, probably the mainstream media source I trust the most on this, says, The outbreak continues to claim lives, but after glimmers of good news in recent weeks worrying signs remain. And just this week, the Vice President of Sierra Leone put…

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Life insurance profitability – how is it going?

February 22, 2015
Source: APRA, my own analysis

Every quarter (since June 2008), APRA summarises various financial statistics from the life insurance industry in a quarterly report. Every quarter, I read it eagerly, to see if it answers the question that I am often asked, “how will we know if the life insurance cycle has turned?”. The total industry appears to be slightly on an upswing, if you look at the annual average. But that hides the worst individual line yet – retail disability…

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What did I read in 2014?

February 8, 2015
Sitting doing nothing all New Year's Eve

I’ve written up my annual page about what I read in 2014 here. In this post, I’m just mentioning the books that I enjoyed the most. First, The Wife Drought, by Annabel Crabb. I reviewed that one here, and you can see I really enjoyed it. It’s my pick for the year. Second, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. This one didn’t make my review list, but I highly recommend it – a combination of great writing,…

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Progressing Women in Leadership – what works?

December 6, 2014
We can do it

In the past two days I have read two insightful pieces of research into how to create an organisation where women can progress. Chief Executive Women commissioned a study with Bain & Co which  used the concept of net promoter score (advocates minus detractors to a specific question) to tease out what aspects of a company were most likely to lead employees to strongly agree that they are likely  to recommend their organisation as a place for women to progress to…

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About me

My name is Jennifer Lang, and I am an actuary working in financial services in Sydney. This site consists of my own personal views, and does not necessarily reflect the views of my employers - past, present or future.

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