I would tell my younger self to be bold and creative in pursuing opportunities through building good relationships.
More about Fiifi
NTU alum, Fiifi Arthur, currently works as Head of Pricing Data Science within the InsureTech industry, which is a mixture of technology and insurance. He spoke with us about his NTU memories and his career.
Why did you decide to study at NTU?
Nottingham is such a vibrant city with lots of rich history. I loved watching Robin Hood movies as a child and wanted to spend time in the city to explore some of its rich histories. Coincidentally, my best friend was also coming to study Financial Mathematics at NTU.
The blend of finance, statistics and pure mathematics made the course very appealing to me. Furthermore, looking at what Alumni had gone on to achieve after studying Financial Mathematics was very inspirational.
What are the most important things that you learned during your time at NTU?
I really enjoyed the statistical, business, accounting and financial modelling modules - these prepared me quite nicely for my career. I was introduced to Matlab during my Computational Mathematics modules. I initially struggled to grasp the concept of programming. However, with the help of a friend (and many nights in the NTU library!), I began to understand the beauty behind coding.
I was involved in NTU Trenterprise (Business Society), which gave me opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone whilst learning new skills. We sold Krispy Kreme donuts on the NTU city campus and I was surprised by how much capital could be raised by selling an existing product in an appropriate location where the target audience frequently visited. This is a very practical business lesson.
What does a typical day in your current role look like?
Every day is different, but it usually consists of a few key activities. I normally catch up with the leaders in my area to see how the team are doing and how key projects are running.
I will also have meetings with leaders in the key functions that my team supports to strengthen relationships, establish ways of working or just catch-up on how things are going.
I create time for strategic planning and thinking. This can be a range of different things like thinking about new datasets, tools, solutions and capabilities the team needs to develop to enable us to price our customers better.
What attracted you to this industry?
I enjoyed working with datasets as a student. I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to analyse datasets and make financial or business decisions. In the first two years of my career, I worked as a Quantitative Analyst for a retail trading firm in the heart of London. This exposed me to lots of financial analysis, reporting and predictive modelling. I got exposure to coding and fell in love with it. I wanted a career which involved coding and handling data - this made the field of Data Science very attractive. After working in Data Science for a while, I wanted to move towards leadership roles because I enjoy leading teams to a goal or an outcome.
Have you faced any challenges?
In my first role, I was introduced to the coding languages C# and VBA, which felt very alien to me. I was expected to deliver results very quickly and my technical mentor at that time wasn’t very approachable. I often felt like giving up, but I started coding outside of work and building mini projects on the weekend and evenings. I used a similar approach to learn Matlab during my late nights at the NTU library. This approach gave me a lot of confidence and my results in the workplace started to improve.
As a manager, the challenges are different. A particular function was unwilling to engage with my team as they felt like my Data Scientists were going to automate their jobs and they wanted to derive their own initiatives. These fears made building a partnership difficult - I had to think strategically about how to solve this problem. I met with their executive leadership to discuss the issue and find ways to build bridges, not walls. This led to a very positive outcome and there was an almost immediate turnaround. That function became one of the favourite functions for my team to work with.
What is the highlight of your career so far?
I had the privilege of being part of an amazing consulting team during my time at Capgemini. The team was the collection of some of the brightest, most gifted individuals within the field of Data Engineering, Platform Engineering, AI & Data Science and Solution Architects. We were deployed to client sites to deliver very large and complex projects. I was on one of these engagements with a public sector client - this to date has been one of my favourite teams I have worked with. We had an amazing time delivering some really complex solutions.
If you had a time machine, what would you tell your student-self?
Opportunities coupled with hard work are the keys to reaching career goals. I believed that hard work alone was enough to reach career goals, I have now learned that building the right relationships creates opportunities. The old saying of “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” is so true. I would tell my younger self to be bold and creative in pursuing opportunities through building good relationships. This would have looked like attending more career fairs and speaking to people in careers I wanted to pursue and finding creative ways to stay in touch with them. Additionally, I would reach out to local businesses to find more immediate opportunities.
Do you have any advice for NTU students?
Having a balanced lifestyle is equally as important as your studies. This might look like engaging in the nightlife scene whilst simultaneously building friendships. I was also involved in volunteering opportunities in the local community in Nottingham. Working part-time at Nandos was one of the best decisions I made. Being on late-night shifts where Rihanna, Nicki Minaj or Drake’s entourage would come and order a late-night snack made it worthwhile!