Building a bridge to tomorrow at ICA2023

By Simone Brathwaite, FCIA

As I reflect upon my experience at the 2023 International Congress of Actuaries (ICA2023) held in Sydney, Australia, I feel grateful and enthusiastic. This prestigious event, hosted by the International Actuarial Association (IAA) and the Actuaries Institute of Australia (AIA), brought together more than 1,500 actuaries and industry leaders from more than 60 countries.

A night picture of buildings in Sydney, Australia
Photo from Actuaries Institute of Australia, http://actuaries.asn.au/.

“With the theme ‘Bridge to Tomorrow,’ the conference was a transformative experience that reinforced my understanding of our profession’s role in shaping a better future for society.”

The conference kicked off with a captivating opening ceremony that set the stage for what was to come. Naomi Edwards, the dynamic President of the AIA, and Micheline Dionne, the visionary President of the IAA, came together to emphasize our collective responsibility in pursuing solutions that enhance societal well-being amid the world’s uncertainties.

A photo of a speaker on the stage of the Congress
Photo from Actuaries Institute of Australia, http://actuaries.asn.au/.

The two presidents highlighted the need to address both familiar and emerging risks, reminding us of the crucial role we play in safeguarding the future. Further, the Honourable Minister Stephen Jones reinforced the importance of actuaries being actively involved in collaborative efforts to combat climate change, pandemics and other critical issues.

One of the standout moments of the conference was the presence of Dame Inga Beale, the former CEO of Lloyds of London and the first woman to hold the role in its 330-year history. Her session was captivating, sharing engaging stories that demonstrated the power of embracing diversity and inclusion. Dame Inga’s journey showcased how these values enabled her team to transform Lloyds into a forward-thinking, paperless firm that readily embraced change and new technology. Her presentation underscored the complex risk landscape we navigate in the 2020s, inspiring us to seek innovative solutions and seize opportunities as we forge our path to the future.

A photo of the hall in the Convention Centre
Photo from Actuaries Institute of Australia, http://actuaries.asn.au/.

From the early hours of the morning until late in the afternoon, I had the privilege of attending a series of insightful sessions throughout the day, led by passionate and knowledgeable speakers from around the world. We explored important topics such as climate change, technological advancements in risk assessment, professionalism and the future of our profession. We discussed pressing questions, including the insurance industry’s response to a greener consumer market and innovative solutions for bridging the protection gap.

It was National Reconciliation Week in Australia and the significance of the Aboriginal heritage in Australia was emphasized throughout the conference. It reminded us of the responsibility to protect vulnerable societies and future generations. It was a humbling experience that strengthened my commitment to making a positive impact as an actuary.

A photo of natives dancing on stage
Photo from Actuaries Institute of Australia, http://actuaries.asn.au/.

As the President of the Caribbean Actuarial Association, I was honoured to contribute to the conference in two significant ways. Firstly, in the session titled “Failures in Professionalism,” we delved into the essence of professionalism through poignant real-life stories shared by courageous speakers. This session reminded us of the importance of upholding the highest ethical standards in our profession.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to represent the “World” team in a debate against team “Australia.” Although the outcome was a tie, our team succeeded in changing minds, ultimately making us the winners according to the debate rules. The conference was not only about professional development; it also provided ample opportunities for networking and entertainment. We were treated to exclusive access to a luxurious five-star yacht and a lunar amusement park, creating an electrifying atmosphere akin to a scene from a James Bond film or a gathering of top insurance agents. These events facilitated meaningful connections, spirited discussions and unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

“ICA2023 inspired innovation, embraced diversity, enhanced my network and ignited my passion for shaping a brighter tomorrow.”

Overall, despite encountering some personal setbacks like lost luggage and cancelled return flights, the conference was undeniably worthwhile. It served as an investment in myself that will ultimately benefit both my employer and my actuarial association, and I can certainly say that I am looking forward to the next conference in Tokyo in 2026!

A photo of a musical group on the stage of the Congress
Photo from Actuaries Institute of Australia, http://actuaries.asn.au/.

This article reflects the opinion of the author and does not represent an official statement of the CIA.

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