Ahmad Alqarishi (MA ’09) is currently the chief risk officer and chief actuary at Saudi Re, a Saudi Arabia-based company that handles reinsurance business from more than 40 countries. Prior to that, Ahmad spent a decade working as a finance industry regulator at the Saudi Arabian Monitory Authority. After earning his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from King Saud University, Ahmad came to Ball State in 2007 to earn a master’s degree in actuarial science. Ahmad is also a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.
What are the most valuable skills you learned as a master’s student in actuarial science? How have they helped you post-graduation?
In the department of mathematics, one of the positive experiences I realized was the heavy focus on the practical application of theory. Initially, it was challenging for me as I had to apply mathematics to real-life problems. Within the program we had to apply and practice a lot of concept/theory that was related to the actuarial work. It has helped in shaping my approach in applying actuarial techniques to solve any business problem. More importantly, it assisted me in passing the actuarial exams and obtaining the Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) designation.
Is there a particular class or professional opportunity that you remember having a big impact on you?
Definitely. MATH 557—Short Term Actuarial Mathematics—was the first actuarial class in my actuarial program. I struggled at the beginning of the course, however Dr. Jack Foley, who taught us this class, has been a great professor and actuarial mentor. This class helped me to understand the application of the actuarial science and its use in professional business.
With respect to the professional opportunity, I had the chance to participate in the 2011 fall international fellows program of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The international fellows experience is designed for professional staff members who meet specific qualifications. We participated in a one-week training session at NAIC’s central headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, followed by a five-week, on-the-job training at a State Department of Insurance. My host state at the time was the California Department of Insurance (CDI). During my job training I participated in the following divisions:
- Actuarial Analysis Division
- Financial Analysis Division
- Financial Examination Division
- Rate Regulation Division
What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
Since an early age, I had an attraction to mathematics and problem solving. Math and problem solving are key factors for a person pursing the actuarial career; therefore, the actuary career is fulfilling for me as it requires quantitative skills and an excellent work ethic, and aligns well with other professions, such as accountants, underwriters, and so forth.
The actuary job allows me to exercise my skills by working with real life scenarios whilst trying to interpret and communicate complex information in a clear way to colleagues, managers, and regulators.
How did you chart your career path in actuarial science?
Prior to joining SAMA in 2003, I was not aware of the actuarial profession. When the opportunity came to join SAMA, the actuarial role was just introduced in the Saudi Arabian insurance industry at the time. I realized the opportunity to study actuarial science and obtain a professional actuarial designation. Consequently, I joined the Ball State University actuarial program in 2007 with one goal in mind: to obtain the professional actuarial designation. The program was well-established and I was taught by four qualified actuaries. Evidently, the program has supported me to pass the first five actuarial exams and obtain SOA VEE credits.
After finishing the master’s program, I was committed to pass the remaining actuarial exam and dedicated the required time and effort to obtain the Fellowship designation.
What advice can you give current students about finding their way in actuarial science?
Finally, what I would say as advice for the current students is that passion and commitment are key for succeeding in the actuarial profession since as an actuary you have to continue improving yourself and learning more about evolving subject matters, such as data science and artificial intelligence.
I would like to extent my gratitude to Ball State University and professor Curtis Gary Dean for guiding me as my academic adviser during my studying journey.
Related: Sam Weiss ’15 majored in actuarial science, which launched his career as an actuary helping others understand the complexities of retirement. Read Sam’s story.
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