SMS: Alumni Homecoming & IFoA Ceremony 2022 

Sunway Alumni Homecoming

Sunway’s School of Mathematical Sciences (SMS) hosted an Alumni Homecoming ceremony on June 18, 2022, to welcome former students back to their alma mater. Professor Sibrandes Poppema, President of Sunway University, Professor Elizabeth Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Sunway Education Group and Dean of the School of Mathematical Sciences and Professor Ho Chee Kit were among the distinguished guests who graced the gathering.

The event’s emcees, Matthew and Anne, welcomed the audience with vigour to kick off the event, which was followed by an opening speech by Prof Poppema. In his remarks, he recalled some of the new facilities and plans that Sunway is now developing to allow development for the other Sunway schools. Despite the fact that SMS was only formed 5 years ago, the school has over 700 alumni who are currently working in industries such as insurance, banking, finance, and others. Furthermore, SMS’ Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Actuarial Studies programme received a QS 5 star rating, making it the only 5 star programme in Sunway University and the only 5 star programme in Malaysia in the discipline of Mathematical Sciences.

Next was the presentation award for ‘The Top Employers Award’ given to employers in recognition of their support towards the students at SMS.

The next presenting honour was the ‘Outstanding Alumni Award.’ The following list of students were given a token of appreciation for their contributions to the school over the past years. 

Next was an Alumni Sharing Session, during which some of the alumni recounted their experiences while studying at Sunway as well as their experiences after graduation. Ms Tan Lynn Wei, a Sunway Actuarial alumna with nearly 5 years of working experience in the risk management profession who’s now an Executive in Investment and Operational in a unit trust management company, Ms Givaythaa A/P Ganisen, a Sunway Actuarial alumna who secured the exemptions under the Exemption Excellence Award and is now an Analyst in RBC Investor and Treasury Services, and Mr Arshad Muhamad made up the panellists for the sharing session. Along with a bright moderator, Mr Gabriel Ng, a Sunway Alumnus who is now an Insurance Analyst at Cover Genius, a worldwide insurtech that specialises in integrated insurance.

With the conclusion of the sharing session, Professor Ho, was asked to offer his closing address and conclude the event. In his remarks, he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to begin this path of establishing the SMS culture with the lecturers, colleagues, industry partners, alumni, and students for their ongoing devotion in the face of hardship. The obstacles ahead are huge, therefore he urges everyone to put on a brave front, despite the fact that both failure and success are habits, they can always be better.

The evening concluded with a networking session at Sunway’s Art Gallery, where alumni, employees, and students could meet, reminisce, and look forward to the future together.

Lastly, to bring the readers closer to the event itself, Echo had the opportunity to interview some of the attendees such as Givaythaa and Vaibhavi. Both of them enjoyed the networking and engagement session as they both had the chance to meet with their friends and lecturers before the event began. This brought back so many memories at Sunway University. For Givaythaa, she enjoys networking, her expectations were met as she got to meet up with not only her friends but also her juniors and lecturers during the event. Lastly, she does hope that this event would continue to be held every year as it brings opportunity to both alumni and students to connect with one another. 

Sunway IFoA Awards Ceremony

On the 2nd of July 2022, the 3rd Sunway IFoA Awards Ceremony was organised by the School of Mathematical Sciences at the Rooftop Terrace in Sunway University, with a rough total of 30 participants for the event. Due to the pandemic, the 1st and 2nd IFoA Awards Ceremony were held virtually on the 25th of June 2021 and 19th of November 2021 respectively. Fortunately, the ceremony could be held physically this time round. 

Pre-Event Photos

The IFoA Awards Ceremony centers around awarding students who have completed their studies in BSc (Hons) in Actuarial Studies with full exemptions, as the course offers six professional paper exemptions – CS1, CS2, CM1, CM2, CB1 and CB2 – coming from the professional actuary body, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFOA). As of 2022, there are over 45 universities that offer such exemptions globally, and Sunway University is one of those universities. 

Ms Chan’s Opening Remarks

The award ceremony started with an opening remark by Ms Chan Lay Guat, the Head of Actuarial Science and Risk Department. She congratulated the students as they are the third batch of graduates who are going to be awarded the Exemption Excellence Award. Most students who graduated with full exemptions managed to secure a job within 3 to 6 months of their graduation. With that, the Head of the Department hopes that their achievements could inspire current students they could make it through hard work and persistence. After completing their course at Sunway University, it is only the beginning of their actuary journey. She concluded her speech with hopes that the students do not forget their time in Sunway and thanked her fellow lecturing colleagues for teaching these bright students. 

Mr Mark’s Congratulatory Speech

Next, the Guest of Honour, Mr Mark Chau, Regional General Manager of Asia Pacific of IFoA, was invited up front to present his congratulatory speech to the award recipients. He mentioned that IFoA qualifications are very mobile, as you will still be qualified as you travel across countries, which allows you to land a job anywhere as an actuary. The certification of qualification tells the employer what skills you could offer as an actuary. However, before receiving the IFoA qualifications, one must persist in studying for a few years while working. Students may be unsure about their pathway. Still, Mr Mark will have a sharing session on the 4th of July to address the possible concerns actuarial students may have about their actuary career path. He closed his speech by congratulating the students for their hard work. 

Moving forward, the award ceremony officially begins. Mr Mark Chau was brought to the front to pass the Exemption Excellence Award to the 12 students who have achieved six exemptions throughout their course in Actuarial Studies. The students are: 

  1. Calvin Lee Kai Meng
  2. Cha Yee Ming
  3. Gam Yao Yi
  4. Gan Ming Hui
  5. Gan Zi Tian
  6. Koh Wan Fong
  7. Lim Xin Jie
  8. Matthew Goh Sek Foong
  9. Melanie Yeow Chee Wei
  10. Ng Shen Ting
  11. Nicholas Cheong Yeow Ho
  12. Tan Si Ke
Graduates receiving the Exemption Excellence Award
Exemption Excellence Award recipients

Moreover, 2 of the 12 students were selected to provide their speech about their milestone of achieving the full exemptions. The first student to deliver his speech was Calvin Lee Kai Meng. Calvin started off by thankingMs Chan for the opportunity to give a speech about his journey in Actuarial Studies. He initially joined the course due to the good reviews by the seniors and the exemptions from a professional and recognised body. Exemptions to him started as exams he would need to pass to survive the course. However, he realised that exemptions are a road. It defines the field that one could focus on upon receiving the exemptions. He emphasizes that consistency is very hard to maintain, but it is one of the key factors to achieving goals. Lastly, he urges juniors to be disciplined and consistent to achieve their chosen career path. 

Melanie Yeow’s Speech

The next student to provide her speech was Melanie Yeow Chee Wei.To her, she pursued this IFoA pathway due to the prestige and career development prospects as it’ll be a good stepping stone for her career. She received a lot of moral and emotional support from people around her, which kept her motivations high. She is very grateful to IFoA for providing the exemptions to universities such as Sunway University, as it helped to secure her position in AIA as an Actuarial Analyst. Finally, she tipped the juniors that the subjects and skills learnt in the course are useful in the real world regardless of whichever pathway they choose. 

In addition to the Exemption Excellence Award, there is a Sir Edward Johnston Prize Award. This award is provided to the top performing Actuarial Studies graduates from IFoA-affiliated universities. This award was established in 2013 when IFoA received a bequest from Sir Edward Johnston’s widow, Christine Ottewill. It was fitting to use the bequest as an award, with Edward Johnston being the sixth person to hold the position of Government Actuary, who has made a significant impact in the actuarial profession. 

Sir Edward Johnston Prize Award recipient, Nicholas Cheong

After Melanie’s speech, the Sir Edward Johnston Prize Award was awarded to Nicholas Cheong Yeow Ho. As he were to provide his prize-receiving speech, he enthusiastically mentioned that the exemptions (and the award) he received were a major confidence boost for him to continue his actuarial career pathway, as knowing that by completing this degree, he will be part of the highest demanded and highest paying jobs in the world. His journey in Actuarial Studies was very challenging and has pushed him to his very limits. However, he thanked his lecturers for their constant support and patience throughout the course. With that support, he and his peers can “survive one of the hardest and most challenging courses” while developing the necessary skill sets for the future. He finally thanked IFoA for recognising Sunway’s Actuarial Studies course and providing exemptions and Sunway University for providing great opportunities to students for all courses.

Moving on after his speech, a Token of Appreciation was presented to Mr Mark by Ms Chan. A lucky draw was held after the presentation of Token of Appreciation, with 2 RM50 Sunway Originals Gift Vouchers up for grabs. The lucky people who received the prizes were Tan Poh Xing and Kelly Tan Yian Xin. 

To wrap up the IFoA Award Ceremony, a group photo with all attendees of the event has been taken to commemorate the event. A lunch and networking session followed shortly. 

Group Photo with Attendees of Sunway IFoA Award Ceremony

All in all, witnessing the IFoA Awards Ceremony and commemorating the achievements by the seniors has inspired and motivated many of the juniors to continue to work hard in the course, where they could aspire to be just like their seniors, and possibly being one of the next award recipients for the upcoming IFoA Award Ceremony. 

Ms Chan with Exemption Excellence Award recipients
Ms Chan with current Actuarial Studies students

Written by: Maki, Jamie, Sing Yuin

Edited by: Natalie

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