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UCT wins award for actuarial transformation


Billy Enderstein and Shivani Ramjee

At a gala dinner in Johannesburg last week the head of Actuarial Science at the University of Cape Town‚ Shivani Ramjee accepted an award in recognition of UCT’s role in transforming the actuarial profession.

The citation for the Association of South African Black Actuarial Professionals University Award read as follows: "UCT is an institution that has most supported the work of our mentorship. Shivani‚ Ramjee‚ the head of Actuarial Science‚ has been extremely helpful in allowing access to student and encouraging them to participate in our activities.

"We have also enjoyed a good working relationship with Billy Enderstein‚ who is the South African Actuarial Development Programme (SAADP) representative on campus. This has allowed students to benefit from the synergistic relationship between the two organisations. The school’s diverse student body also provides a good base for ASABA mentorship activities. This has allowed the mentorship student numbers to grow by 80% between December 2012 and March 2013."

Ramjee noted that although significant progress had been made in transforming the actuarial profession‚ much still needed to be done. "The profession has not transformed sufficiently‚ so we have a very important role to play in terms of the pipeline of potential actuaries‚" she said. "We see this award as a call to further action."

At last year’s SAADP awards ceremony‚ the deputy president of the ANC‚ Cyril Ramaphosa (an honorary actuary) observed that in 2003 there was only one black actuary in South Africa. Last year this number had grown to nine qualified black actuaries. The pipeline held promise‚ however‚ with 91 graduates and 264 students undergoing the development programme.

Last year’s graduating BBusSc cohort of 60 students was the first time that the majority of students in the class were black African‚ Coloured and Indian. This year a key intervention will been to provide a solid foundation for actuarial science students in the Academic Development Programme with an innovative Statistics course in the EDU.

Ramjee noted that of the six black African women in the profession‚ all hailed from UCT. She attributed this to a "nurturing" environment at UCT‚ with the synergistic benefits of her department‚ Irene Petrony from the Actuarial Society of South Africa‚ SAADP and the collaborative support from Professor June Pym’s Educational Development Unit team. The integration of these elements allowed for a range of support for students‚ including academic‚ financial‚ psycho-social and emotional support.

Billy Enderstein said: "we serve a national objective: to increase the number of black actuaries in South Africa. We want to work towards everybody who fits the profile will have the opportunity to develop within a supportive environment".

Congratulating the team on their award‚ the head of Management Studies‚ Professor Anton Schlechter said: "This is well-deserved recognition for the transformation work that the Section of Actuarial Science has been doing for some years now under Shivani’s leadership. Billy Enderstein is also named in person for her contribution to the transformation of the profession and the work that she does.

"To Shivani‚ Billy and the staff in the Section I want to express my deepest gratitude for the important work that you do in this regard and I celebrate this recognition with you. You are such an inspirational example for the rest of us in the school and beyond."

Adding his congratulations‚ the Dean of Commerce Professor Don Ross said: "The Commerce Faculty is committed to accelerating the transformation of the business community. That commitment is only real to the extent that individual Commerce academics actively push initiatives that serve the goal. Billy Enderstein and Shivani Ramjee have been tireless in promoting a transformed actuarial profession. They’ve been working at this for years‚ which is why we’re now seeing the kinds of results that merit this award. The Faculty is proud of and grateful to them. Even more proud grateful are the formerly disadvantaged South Africans now embarked on actuarial careers thanks to Billy and Shivani."

Posted by Carolyn McGibbon on 20/05/2013

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