The Aon senior consultant was named mentor of the year at the inaugural Rising Star Awards. She speaks to Kim Kaveh about her successes to date.
What does winning the award mean to you?
I'm absolutely thrilled to have won the award. I just feel absolutely honoured and it's just so nice to be recognised for something that I'm so passionate about. For me, mentoring is important because we spend so much time at work. So I just think it's really important to enjoy it, and I think I've been really fortunate as well because I get to work with such fantastic colleagues who've helped me to get to where I am today. So I'm just really keen to help others have the best experience they can too, so that they can fulfil their potential as well.
What has been the biggest achievement in your career so far?
I was quite heavily involved in launching the actuarial technician apprenticeship at Aon in 2015 for those finishing A-levels. I also led the launch of the actuarial consultant apprenticeship which is for graduates.
Before these get put in place at Aon there's an employer working group where a range of employees from across the industry get together to design and develop the apprenticeship standard. That apprenticeship standard is then used by any UK company who wants to use the program.
So getting all of the policies, procedures, and the development programmes sorted takes quite a long time. It's quite a significant bit of work.
The actuarial technician program was completely new so it was particularly exciting to be involved in developing that one.
What challenges have you faced and how have you dealt with them?
The biggest challenge for me, this might sound cheesy, but it is so true, was finding my own style and realising that the best thing to do at work is actually just be myself.
I've now realised that the way that I communicate concepts and simplify things is one of my strengths. It helps me to get involved with presenting and communicating with members, and doing quite a lot of presentation.
I've been fortunate to work with great senior people so when I'm learning and developing, I'm trying to learn from them as much as possible to develop myself. I want to try and be true to myself and carry on going with my own style, while being myself.
What are the important lessons you've learned in your pensions career so far?
My headline is ‘relationships matter'. Working in consultancy, we do hear that message a lot. But I think it's important in all aspects of work - not just for our clients, but also our internal team. So I work harder, and I find that others work harder for me, when we all enjoy working together and acknowledge each other's efforts. It also makes the work much more enjoyable.
What is your top tips for someone looking to progress or start a career in pensions?
Don't be afraid to ask. Sometimes I think it can be nerve-wracking asking someone more senior if you can get involved in projects or an interesting piece of work. But actually the worst outcome if you ask them to get involved in something is that they say no.
When something interesting comes up in the future, they'll probably remember you, so there's no downside in asking people if you're interested in something.
What else can the industry do to get better at supporting and encouraging the rising stars of pensions?
I think the industry needs to continue to give opportunities and give a voice to younger people so that we can make a difference in pensions. Having enough money when we all retire is something that affects each and every one of us, so being able to have a chance to influence and change things for the better is really fantastic!
Registration for the UK Pensions Awards 2020 is now open…
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