Charmaine Ooi, Malaysia
Malaysian student Charmaine Ooi arrived in Edinburgh in 2005 to study Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics. Seven years later she is working as a fully qualified actuary with international consulting pension and investments company Mercer.
She talks to TalentScotland about her career and new life in Scotland’s capital city.
Tell us about your background
I was brought up in Penang Island on the west coast of Malaysia and moved to the capital Kuala Lumpur to study my A levels. After I received a scholarship in 2005 to study in the UK I decided on Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. It was one of the few universities where you could study a degree in Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics and that had the campus environment I wanted.
Although I did not know anyone in Edinburgh when I arrived, I soon made lots of friends throughout the university and even found out that there was a small Malaysian community already here in the city.
What attracted you to working for Mercer?
In my third year of my degree I did an eight-week internship with Mercer and really enjoyed the experience. The work was challenging and the people were very nice and gave me lots of encouragement. At the end of the internship Mercer offered me a job.
What is your role with Mercer?
After completing my BSc in Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics, I started work with the company in January 2009. As a Trainee Actuary I worked in the Retirement, Risk and Finance group and was given a day off each week to help me study for my professional exams.
I finally passed the exams in January 2012, and since then have moved to the Financial Strategy group as a Consulting Analyst which is a very interesting. We sit between the Pensions and the Investment groups to develop complex models for risk assessment and investment strategies for the teams. It’s a very good role and I’m keen to learn more to help develop my career with Mercer.
How do you like living in Scotland?
I really enjoy living in Edinburgh, as it’s not as hectic as other cities. I’ve bought a flat by the waterfront in the Leith area of Edinburgh and I find that it’s easy to get around the city thanks to the buses: from going shopping in town to getting out into the countryside for a walk. I’m also keen on racket sports and there are lots of places to play tennis and badminton.
Although there are obvious differences between Malaysia and Scotland, such as the climate and the food, I feel quite at home here.