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‘I wouldn’t be where I am without Maths’

Fayezah Sayed works at KPMG and is based in Leeds. She is a trainee actuary.

What did you enjoy about Mathematics at school?
I liked the feeling that there could be a right or wrong answer and that it was challenging. I also liked doing a subject with a lot of applications in the real world.

What is your background in Mathematics?
I always did Maths because I enjoyed it. At school I did A Levels in Maths and Further Maths. My parents wanted me to do Medicine at university but I convinced them that I really wanted to do maths because it was the subject which I loved. My parents were worried about the job prospects with a Maths degree but, after doing some research, I found that there were a huge number of options with a background in Maths. I went on to do a degree in Mathematics from the University of Leeds. As I went through my undergraduate degree, I found myself being more interested in Applied Maths than Pure Maths. I graduated from Leeds with a First Class Honours degree in Maths.

Can you tell me about your job history?
I worked part time in admin for Topshop while I was doing my degree. My duties were mainly to do with the finances. I got my current job as a trainee actuary at KPMG after I graduated. Actuaries basically look at the profits and losses of a company and use Maths to predict the financial future of the company using lots of calculations and graphs.

Did you have difficulty finding vacancies while job hunting?
I did a bit of research into what options were available while I was doing my degree. I went to the university careers service and also to various careers fairs to get more information. I was using a few online sites in addition to this. There was a bit of competition for jobs but employers know when you are genuine and when your passion for the job is there. My passion for Maths definitely played a big part in me getting my current job.

Has your perception of Mathematics changed in moving from an education atmosphere to the world of work?
It has been a bit strange but very interesting. Actually seeing the application of the Maths which I learned in my degree has been great. There is a lot of flexibility with my job too. I can choose to switch office location if I want to.

What skills do you use in your job?
I obviously use a lot of Mathematical skills however I also need to use a lot of my social skills. I need to be able to explain complicated theories to a wide range of people. There is also a lot of team work involved in my job which makes a nice informal working atmosphere.

What are some of your hobbies in your spare time?
I did a lot of kickboxing at university. I also enjoy swimming, badminton and films. One of my main interests is Art. I have done a lot of painting and I like to make photo frames and Christmas cards and things like that.
Many universities offer modules and courses in the Mathematics behind Fayezah’s work. These will typically come under the heading of ‘Financial Mathematics’
RELEVANT CLASSROOM MATHS: Statistics, Probability