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Prabashini Moodley, the Managing Director of Old Mutual Corporate, has been named by as one of the top 50 women CEOs in Africa. She tells GH about the journey so far, and shares her top personal finance tip.

But first, what exactly is an actuary?

To put it as simply as possible (though there’s a lot more in the detail), actuaries are trained in dealing with uncertainty utilising analytical and risk management techniques. The skillset can be applied in many different fields – think: insurance, investment management, healthcare, pension funds, data analytics and banking.

And, as you can probably guess, it won’t take a quick online course to get there… “The path to professional qualification can be a bit lengthy, with most people starting with a specialist undergraduate degree, followed by professional board exams while working,” says Prabashini. The takeout: commitment is key.

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Interested in the field?

Many financial institutions offer bursaries, internships and graduate programmes and have online career portals, explains Prabashini. “Make contact and apply,” she says. Want to do a bit more research before jumping right in? “There are also a few professional bodies like the Actuarial Society of South Africa and Association of South African Black Actuarial Professionals, which are very helpful with information,” she says.

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of it all

You don’t have to look a certain way, or have a specific background to “fit the profile” of an actuary. “We are all equally entitled to chasing our dreams and being happy and healthy – but we don’t always have equal opportunity,” says Prabashini.

So, she’s doing something about it. “I’m privileged to be in a role in an organisation that has values that are close to my own, which allows me to bring my passion into my work. I love being able to make a meaningful impact in diversity and inclusion and support people – whether it’s my team, colleagues, our clients or shareholders in whatever way,” she says.

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As a woman, is it tough to succeed in this industry?

“I don’t think it’s any easier or more difficult than in any other male-dominated industry,” says Prabashini. “There are subtleties in language and ways of doing things where environments, like the financial services industry and large corporates, have been designed by and for only one gender,” she says. But that doesn’t mean women can’t succeed in the industry. In fact, they can thrive.

According to Prabashini, there is a huge appreciation generally for the value of more diverse teams. It’s just that different organisations are at different stages in their journey of embracing what that means for them specifically in addressing any unconscious bias that might make it difficult for women to progress and to accelerate historical imbalances.

“Unfortunately, there are still many spaces where women need to be prepared to be the first woman in the team/at a particular senior level and the pressure that can come with that,” she adds.

We had to ask! Prabashini Moodley’s top personal finance tip?

Always take a cautious approach to spending and be disciplined in saving and investing. “[In retrospect], I could have made better choices and made my money work harder with the advice of a professional,” she says.

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Words of wisdom for the next generation of women…

“All your dreams are valid, and anything is possible. Embrace any challenges and failures along the way. Enjoy the journey as much as possible,” she says.

Self-care is pretty important. Here’s Prabashini’s advice…

How Prabashini practises self-care? “Listening to my body, being mindful of my overall mood and energy levels, and taking the time to reset when those feel low.” And what does that look like in practical terms? Rest and mini breaks with friends and family, she says.

Connect with Prabashini Moodley

“You are welcome to reach out via LinkedIn,” she says.

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