Actuarial Science Alumni Pioneers in Egypt

Sarah Mazhar ‘09 has been designated a fellow of the UK-based Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, making her the first female actuarial science fellow in Egypt’s history. With this honor, Mazhar is the third graduate of AUC’s actuarial science program and the fifth in Egypt to attain the actuarial science fellow distinction, following Ahmed Abdelrahman ’12 and Youssef Salem ’12, recipients of AUC’s President’s Cup and the first Egyptians in 45 years to be named fellows of the U.S.-based Society of Actuaries. Mazhar, Salem and Abdelrahman all graduated summa cum laude from AUC with a bachelor’s in actuarial science and a minor in economics.

After completing her education at AUC, Mazhar went on to obtain her master’s in actuarial management from City University, London. Currently, she works as an insurance risk manager at the Commercial International Life Insurance Company and is registered as an actuarial expert with the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority. “Being the first female fellow actuary from Egypt is both a great honor and responsibility,” said Mazhar. “I feel blessed to have been surrounded by an amazing support system of my professors, mentors, colleagues, family and friends. Now, I'm happy to take my turn to be there for future actuaries and support them through their journey to qualification.”

Similarly highlighting the importance of AUC in his actuarial career, Abdelrahman, who holds master’s degrees from MIT and the University of Waterloo and has now begun his PhD at the University of Chicago, noted that “AUC’s actuarial education provides a strong statistical foundation that paves the road for pursuing opportunities, both academically and professionally, in a variety of quantitative fields such as economics, finance or data analytics, let alone actuarial science. I am hopeful that the actuarial science program at AUC attracts more Egyptians into this regionally under-supplied field.”

“The actuarial science program led by the amazing professors Ali Hadi and Zeinab Amin is one of the leading programs of its kind globally,” added Salem, who currently works as an investment banking associate at Moelis & Company, after spending four years at QInvest Qatar. “This education continues to influence my career in an extremely positive way.”

Emphasizing the difficulty of attaining the fellow distinction, Zeinab Amin, associate chair of the Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Science and director of the actuarial science program, explained that getting certified as an actuary by the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority requires passing an extensive and challenging series of examinations to earn an actuarial designation through the Society of Actuaries or the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Ali Hadi, distinguished University professor, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Science, and founder of the actuarial science program at AUC, explained that actuarial science is an interdisciplinary field of study that combines mathematics, statistics, economics, finance, computer science and accounting to measure risk. “Actuaries are in high demand, locally and globally,” noted Hadi . “Realizing that the number of certified actuarial experts in Egypt is notoriously low whereas the demand for actuarial experts is very high," Hadi founded AUC's actuarial science program in 2004.

Reflecting on her educational path, Mazhar noted that “the liberal arts education I received at AUC was the best tool that helped accelerate my learning in my actuarial exams and by learning on the job. At AUC, we pride ourselves on learning how to learn, which helped ease my transition from the American to the British system when I decided to pursue the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries qualification instead of the Society of Actuaries. I believe we never stop learning throughout our lives and, therefore, the ability to learn is a skill that continues to contribute to my development on a daily basis.”

Mazhar, Abdelrahman and Salem all agree on one thing: The journey to becoming an actuarial science fellow was not an easy one. In her speech at the recent departmental ceremony honoring her accomplishments, Mazhar offered words of encouragement to current undergraduates: “For all future actuaries still going through the daily struggle: Trust me; do not give up,” she said. “I am now standing at the other side of the finish line and telling you, it’s not as hard as it seems. If I could do it, so can all of you.”