Graduate Spotlight: Olivia Keri – Taking Her Seat at The (Math) Tables
If, in a decade or so, you come to Strathmore looking to take a degree in Actuarial Science, you might just be lucky enough to learn from Olivia Keri. Her first words will likely be “Actuarial Science is the math of the future”.
For those of us who have never quite grasped the concept of Actuarial science, I can tell you now, it has nothing to do with architecture and everything to do with insurance. Actuarial students often learn with Financial Engineering and Economics students, branching off in the last few years of university to focus more on insurance. I learnt all this during a virtual chat I had with Olivia. Virtual because as of two months ago, she is living and working in Dubai.
Did you always dream of going into actuarial science?
I had to ask, considering not a lot of children say they want to grow up and work in insurance. Olivia always dreamed of being a doctor. And she would have made a great one; brilliant and patient, quick with a smile and able to simplify matters. While in high school, she met a teacher whose influence changed the trajectory of her life. He was such a brilliant mathematician and teacher that she began to fall in love with the subject. She began to look into math related careers, eventually coming across Actuarial Science.
With a course in mind, she set off to join Strathmore. From the very start, she was warned that it would be a demanding course. “If I’ve done KCSE, what can’t I do?” she thought to herself. But true to the warning, the course was rigorous and not for the faint of heart. Going into it, Olivia did not know there was so much finance involved, but that was where she discovered her future area of focus – one that has opened doors to the Middle East and hopefully will open doors to graduate degrees – quantitative finance.
Read More – Olivia in first year: being-an-actuary-is-a-lucrative-career-but-it-requires-hard-work/
Olivia can say with certainty that her four years in Strathmore reshaped her way of thinking. She highlighted special instances of note; the BCG Aspire Women’s Workshop and the academic trip to London. As the first Kenyan woman ever chosen to participate in the BCG Aspire Workshop, Olivia had the chance to interact with women from across the globe. She explored her own capabilities and learnt to truly give herself a chance to take her seat at the table. The academic trip to London was equally transformative. She got to visit new cities and bond with her classmates, exposing her to different ways of doing things. “Everything you want is right in front of you”. She says that trip taught her to take risks and be disruptive.
It must have been quite the experience because at 22, when she was offered a job in a foreign country, she dived head first into it. She packed her bags and moved to Dubai. She had been in day schools all her life, so this was a huge disruptive move. Over the past two months, she says she has missed home a lot but she loves her work and gets to apply quantitative finance in her day to day. Of her job she says, “the math is just mathing”. She stays connected with friends and former classmates virtually and is always excited to see the great things they are pursuing in life. She is also building relationships with her co-workers, who recommended she take a dance class as a way to immerse herself in the life there. She’s not sure her two left feet will take her far with dance… Maybe golf?
Olivia’s future will be full of learning and expanding her experiences. She hopes to continue to grow in her current role and challenge herself to apply the skills she learnt in school before taking up a masters in quantitative finance. She loved London so much that she’s considering doing her graduate programs there. In time, she hopes to come back and teach here at Strathmore and influence the next generation of mathematicians the same way her teachers influenced her.
This article was written by Celia Kinuthia.
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