Priviledges & Prejudices – An Open Letter

Dear sir

I wanted to thank you for making the time to meet up with me last week to discuss actuaries in commercial roles. I’ve been off work the last two days moving house, and have been able to consider all that you’ve shared with me.

I particularly appreciated your honesty and candidness. While I definitely took a lot away from our meeting, one thing that stayed with me the most was around active planning and having a clear target/role in mind. I gathered from our meeting that you are aware, possibly from my boss, of the full extent of my ambitions – that is to one day be CEO of a financial institution.

You mentioned how certain key roles that were crucial in enabling you to build a track record happened by chance. In contrast my approach would appear a little more deliberate, considered and targeted. What I struggled to articulate in our meeting, is why that is the case. To plough myself out of poverty, I’ve had to be specific in my targets. Growing up in a country that is only 23 years old to the majority of its citizens, I’ve had to know exactly what was required of me to achieve even moderate success.

To get ahead as a woman of colour no one is likely to come around ready to just give me a chance at something, I will have to forcefully grab any minute opportunity that comes by. This is the fundamental difference between you as a white male, and the privileges that that affords you, and myself as a black woman, and the prejudices that dictate my life.

A decree

“Must you ruin everything?”

“Must you ruin everything?”

As if the world were new? As if it were the first morning? As if it were still dawn?

The truth, […], is that what has already been ruined, our founding disillusion, is our freedom.

Go to it

Go to it when the ground is soft. Let the sun find you already there and it will not be a match for you. But if it reaches the shamba before you – hm”

A grain of wheat; Ngugi wa Thiong’o

On qualifying as an actuary

Be

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.

John Steinbeck, East of Eden