Association of South African Black Actuarial Professionals encouraged to “call things as they are”

Dr Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh

The Association of South African Black Actuarial Professionals (ASABA) hosted their annual conference, themed Back to the Future, virtually from 2 – 4 November.  

Prominent members and partners of ASABA attended and presented at the event sponsored by Discovery, Liberty, Old Mutual and Assupol. 

South African author and postdoctoral fellow of the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, Dr Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, was the keynote speaker. 

He based his formal address on his latest book The New Apartheid and the principle that the solution to solving a problem lies in making the problem bigger. He said that by refusing to shy away from calling things as they are (therefore, shining a spotlight on a problem) one can actually get more people involved in finding a solution. 

Dr Mpofu-Walsh added that actuaries are at the heart of the country’s current and future economy and that they are ideally positioned to make a real difference in people’s lives by initiating, developing and implementing the products that can provide South Africans with affordable, quality products in the not just financial, but other essential sectors.  

Other matters that arose during the roundtable discussions that formed part of the carefully planned programme included the actuarial profession’s ability to embrace the past [in order] to adapt to the unique challenges facing South Africa’s economic future. “Looking back at aspects that delivered positive results in the past, it is evident that mentorship, sponsorship and leadership development will remain key to the diversification and transformation of the actuarial profession and the country’s future economic landscape,” said ASABA president, Nabeelah Kolia, who took over the reins from Memory Zimba. 

ASABA ended off the event with a prestigious gala dinner, presenting the following individuals and corporates that lead by example, with the following awards: 

  • The Best University Chapter Award presented to the University Chapter that has set the standard for excellence in programming, member support and execution of strategy, was awarded to the North West University. 
  • The Mentorship Award for a mentor who has had a significant impact on their mentees; someone who has successfully mentored more than two mentees and whose mentoring skills can be attested to by at least one senior colleague or Actuary, was awarded to Terri Elie, Assistant Manager at Ernst & Young. 
  • The Actuarial Women’s Committee Inkanyezi Award, awarded to the actuarial professional who has achieved personal and professional success, provided mentorship to other females in the financial services industry and who has shown leadership in business and the greater community, was awarded to Lindy Schmaman, Associate Director and Consulting Actuary at Deloitte. 
  • The President’s Award, awarded (at the discretion of the ASABA president) to an individual who has made a significant contribution to assist ASABA in achieving their goals, went to Thembalihle Phillip Baloyi, President and Board Chairman IISA. 
  • The Best Vacation Work Employer Award, awarded to the employer that invested the most in the development of actuarial trainees and hired the most vacation students, went to the Liberty Group. 

The following members will serve with Nabeelah Kolia as part of the ASABA executive committee for 2022/2023: Anderson Pillay, Yashoda Ram, Tsietsi Ngobese, Kaila Fourie, Muhammad Kolia, Vuyelwa Nyezi, Phila Karambakuwa and Fulufhelani Mashapha. 

“To endorse, inspire and raise awareness on what the future might look like for the next generation of actuaries will always be a key commitment of ours as ASABA continues to make the actuarial profession more accessible and inclusive,” says Kolia. 

She adds that through various initiatives, such as mentorship, schools and community outreaches, vacation work as well as a focus on the development of women in the workplace, ASABA will transform the South African actuarial profession.  

“It has been 16 years since ASABA’s establishment and immense progress has been made by my predecessors. However, there is still more to be done to realise a South African profession that represents the demographics of our country. The time for change, for honest and open communication, difficult conversations and progress is now. Over the next two years, we plan to challenge the status quo and provide opportunities for our members to develop and thrive in their careers. The actuarial profession that we are a part of now will not be the same at the end of our term – it will be even better,” Kolia concludes. 

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