Martin joined Scott Robinson at Zenith 4 years ago to bring his actuarial technological insights and skills to the company. He is passionate about changing the way actuaries access and consume analytics so the information adds value to clients businesses.
As COO, Martin has responsibility for Zenith’s proprietary analytics Portal, used for automated client financial reporting. This combines pre-built and maintained models with integrated data warehousing, workflow, audit and reporting functionality.
But what about the man behind the numbers, Martin grew up in South Africa and studied Maths and Computer Science . A twist in his career path lead him into the actuarial world.
Did you have any idea on what you wanted to do or what you wanted to be when you were growing up?
At school, I really wasn’t sure. I went on to study a general maths and computer science degree at The University of Cape Town, but it was only later that I converted to Actuarial Science.
After my undergrad I did a work placement at Liberty Life in Johannesburg. Through my work there they sponsored me to do a postgrad actuarial science conversion course, being the first person in South Africa to do this degree. That was how I ended up in this career – I thought it sounded like a good challenge. It’s funny to think that if I hadn’t been given this opportunity, I probably wouldn’t be an Actuary today, living in London and involved with Zenith!
What do you admire most in a leader?
One who is structured and detail oriented but also able to think ahead … or someone with a clear desk despite the amount of work they have going on. That always impresses me.
So how tidy is your desk?
Not that tidy! Don’t worry I don’t have piles and piles of paper covering it, but I could definitely do better I’m sure.
If you were going to have a fantasy dinner party, which three people would you invite?
Right now, one of the guests would have to be Elon Musk. I don’t know what he’s like as a person to talk to, but I’d love to have a glimpse into the life of one of the world’s smartest people, who is so intricately involved in the science but also the business aspects of two extremely high-tech companies. I don’t quite understand how he manages to fit everything into his day!
I’d also be really interested to hear from Boris Johnson and discuss the unprecedented health, economic, social and political trade-offs and decision-making faced by governments around the world.
I would also love to have dinner with Jurgen Klopp – I think everyone would!
With Klopp, is it his attention to detail that interests you?
It’s interesting because you don’t really see that with him. You mainly see his character out on the pitch. The way he galvanised the team and brought them up to where they are now is really inspiring. There’s a massive amount behind the scenes that we don’t see and I would love to have more of an insight, especially as a Liverpool supporter.
If you hadn’t had that moment where you found out about the actuarial opportunity, what role would you be in now?
It would be something IT related for sure. This is why I would encourage everyone to keep an open mind and if choosing to study at higher education, to study a broad degree. You never know where life might take you! At Zenith, I’m able to combine my actuarial expertise and my IT skills; I marry the two together and I’m really pleased that able to do this.
What do you see in the future for you and the Zenith team?
In terms of our technology, we have started to develop our Portal 2.0 which brings “backroom” actuarial financial reporting activities into the heart of corporate decision making. We do this via increased scalability and business applications, such as capital impact analysis, new business profitability and product development. As Azure hosted, subscription-based users can focus on configuring the models (rather than coding and maintaining them) and rapidly produce meaningful results and insights which can be integrated within wider corporate MI and reporting.
The future of Zenith is really exciting. Our team has grown to over 20 people and we are actively expanding at all levels to service both our project based clients and retained services. We are always looking for new staff who want to help build our business and join our team. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the next few years take us.