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Prepare yourself for the Careers of Future

Article first published on CollegeDunia website.

Akash Rughani Interview

Mr. Akash Rughani is a ProgramDirector at Institute of Actuarial and Quantitative Studies. He is an Actuarial Science professor for 8+ years. He is a consultant and trainer to various multinational companies in Risk Management and Analytics domain.

In conversation with Ishita, Mr. Rughani revealed information about his college courses which opens career pathways in various fields. He also has a special message for aspirants who want to join the prestigious Institute.

In Today’s world, everyone needs to go through the cycle of learning, unlearning and relearning

I have spent more than eight years in the education industry. I feel it is currently going through a very exciting phase. On one side due to constant changes in business models, disruption to existing conventional business, an innovation of new technologies and on the other side increased awareness over the importance of quality higher education amongst students and parents makes it a very exciting time.

In today’s time first to remain relevant and second to grow everyone needs to go through the cycle of learning, unlearning and relearning.

In my opinion, with >40% of the Indian population less than 18 years of age, it makes one of the most exciting industries playing our little role in nation-building. Not only this, meeting new students seeing them grow in front of me to newer heights every day gives me the excitement to continue and teaches me new things every day. Teaching to me is the process of learning and educating.

In Life, Failure is not closing of a door, It’s a redirection to new doors

People say they would go back in time and change it. But, if I could go back in time, I would not do a single thing differently.

When I look back, journey so far has been quite illustrious. While in college very early on in life I started my own stockbroking company. From being a stockbroker I started to enter trading strategies using delta hedging. Within six months, I was able to expand my trading desk to 10 people. Going was great in terms of money and we started to consider our first six months growth into something which would be lifelong and a hurricane hit us, one faulty trade took away all our hard-earned money. That incident of my life gave me a good understanding of risk management strategies. Post the stock broking incident I went on to pursue CA and successfully cleared all three exams in first attempt securing 34 AIR in the examinations. Along with pursuing CA I started preparing for Actuarial Science, my previous experience in stock broking and entering complex trade came back helping me excel in my Actuarial Studies. After becoming a Chartered Accountant I entered the world of finance, taxation and business operations. With my Actuarial knowledge very soon in my firm I started a new consulting vertical all together and we started advising on risk management practises for leading Indian insurance companies. In a very short span, the new vertical became larger than the overall firm practice. Along with my consultancy work, I started my own Actuarial Science classes, FinStat Academy, which in the last eight years has grown substantially giving me an opportunity to train more than 2500 aspirants in actuarial and analytics domain. In all, having started early and strong professional education has helped me build a strong foundation, grow substantially and fuel my enterprising mind set.

Educating young minds onto a promising future

The journey of becoming an academician does not have an emotional story rather it was a practical decision. It all started with me mentoring the students in actuarial studies. When you do a lot of tutoring you understand where the course stands in the education sector. By mentoring the students, I realised that there is a big need for quality actuarial mentoring/training. Since, I had my own consultancy I thought I could impart quality education clubbing theory and practical experiences. This inspired me to start FinStat Academy.

While teaching at FinStat for the last eight years I realised two big gaps in the education system for actuarial aspirants.

First, every year I had students come to me with issues such as having to pursue dual education streams one for their degree college and other for professional qualification resulting in lack of concentration on their actuarial studies.
Second, the professional course being predominantly based on distance learning, lead to students having issues with interpersonal and communication skills and missed the entire advantage of classroom education.
For this reason, we started Institute of Actuarial and Quantitative Studies (IAQS). At IAQS, we provide full time Bachelors and Masters Degree in Actuarial and Quantitative Finance. The program aims at clubbing the technical knowledge of professional qualification and grooming students’ interpersonal skills via classroom approach. The course is designed keeping in mind, the shortcomings that I faced during my teaching and mentoring experience.

The courses at IAQS are specially curated, enabling the students to make a mark

The biggest challenge that I faced while designing the program was outlining the curriculum, in order to have good mix of balance between theory and practical aspect. How do I ensure students learn what’s relevant today and at the same time what’s shaping the future of the industry?

With that thought I came up with the three domains of the program Actuarial Science, Quantitative Finance and Data Science with the right flow. It was very challenging to ensure that the curriculum touches all aspects and yet provides specialization option.

The 4 pillars of our Programs at IAQS

The entire program is built on four pillars which are our greatest strengths. It includes curriculum, scope of the course, faculties and approach towards teaching.

To elaborate individually:

  • Curriculum: Covers the syllabus on a much broader and deeper sense in finance and its allied fields than any bachelors/masters course available under the University of Mumbai. It prepares students for various professional courses like Actuarial Science, CFA, FRM etc.
  • Scope of the course: The program provides a comprehensive framework that contains concepts that will be used at all stages of a student’s career and in many areas of specialization. The program equips you with the practical and fundamental knowledge required for a wide variety of career choices in Risk modelling, Actuarial, Data Science and various other investment domains.
  • Faculty: We take pride in our faculty. Over 60% of the teaching faculty are industry experts and thus, focus on industry integrated learning. We have fellow actuaries, associate actuaries, trader, investment bank professionals, data analysts etc. as part of faculties.
  • Approach to teaching: At IAQS we have done a very unique approach to teaching and have included a lot of stuff that typically the industry wants with the help of technology. We have introduced Learning Management System (LMS) for the students enabling the learning at their fingertips at their pace as required. We want students to not only learn new things but also teach the ability to demonstrate it effectively to the world.

Having check listed most of the requirements in the list of establishing a good program we are now looking forward to many new establishments.

Designing future plans for our students

Our next goal is to spread awareness about the program and its long-term benefits to students across India and outside to attract global talent. Having successfully launched the course our next goals identified for the near term are:

  1. Innovate on delivery mechanism
  2. Accreditation from professional bodies
  3. Industry recognition
  4. Setting up a Research & Development centre
  5. International University tie-ups

We have started work on all of the above points and would be happy to provide updates as we make substantial progress.

Placement Opportunities

We understand the importance of placement in a student’s life. Therefore, our program is designed keeping in mind industry requirements. The idea to include Data Science in our curriculum was to ensure that the students apply it effectively in the real world. Reason behind more than 60% of faculty belonging to the industry is to ensure that student’s study what is relevant to the industry. Every year we hold a mandatory internship for the second-year students.

Our placement cell is already in talks with many leading corporates and are initiating formal placement tie-ups. This will help our students to easily have a job at the end of their course. 

We welcome every aspiring student to come to our institute

We welcome every student aspiring to make a career in actuarial science and quantitative finance domain. The program directly compliments professional qualifications such as Actuarial papers, CFA and FRM and provides scholarship to every student appearing for professional qualifications.

During your time at IAQS while pursuing B. Sc. or M. Sc. in Actuarial Science and Quantitative Finance, you will not only develop core technical skills but also develop data modelling skills and interpersonal communication skills. Institute aims at providing superlative experience with a comprehensive education coverage.

Our vision is to nurture our students, expose them to real-time complex situations and offer them a distinctive platform to learn the smart ways of management. We are working in all directions to create a great brand within the industry and to ensure long term appreciation and recognition. We welcome you to our campus KC College, Churchgate Mumbai India.

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