Paolo Zazzara, Sr. Manager Insurance Audit, Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation
In order to help current students and recent graduates to find their way in the working world, many of our alumni shared their career story. Here the story of Paolo Zazzara, Sr. Manager Insurance Audit for the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC) in Sydney. USI Degree: Master in Finance, 2010
How did you start your career?
I started at KPMG for an internship during the 2nd year of my master and then moved to EY for a graduate program in the assurance team. Once this was over, I took up a role at Generali in the audit team. In 2012, I moved over to Australia. I worked for Zurich and then for Allianz in the internal audit teams. In 2018, I've started working at ARPC.
Why did you choose a career in ARPC?
I spent the first 8 years of my career working in very large organizations. When I joined ARPC (22 employees), I was looking for a smaller environment where my contribution could have an impact and I could be involved in pretty much all aspects of the organization.
What is your current role/duties?
ARPC is a government organization that provides reinsurance to insurance companies for losses associated with terrorism in Australia (it's insurance for insurance companies). I run the Insurance Audit team; we visit our customers (i.e. insurance companies) to help them pay the right amount of reinsurance premiums to ARPC and also understand our requirements. ARPC has more than 200 customers located mostly in Australia, London and Singapore.
In your opinion, what are the qualities necessary for a successful career in ARPC?
Team work and personal leadership: in an organisation of 22 people there is no room for "it's not my job". Curiosity and adaptability: every insurance company I visit has difference processes and ways of doing things. Integrity: the overall mission of ARPC is to make the Australian economy more resilient so it`s all about doing the right thing and be prepared should a terrorist incident happen.
What positive aspects and qualities meant most to you during the study programme you attended?
The MSc in Finance program gave me a great exposure across all different aspects of the finance world. I positively remember the support received from the professors and other staff. The fact that the program was taught in English and that it has been my first experience living away from home were key factors in my personal and professional growth.
What competences and/or skills acquired in your USI Study Program have been useful/are useful to your professional career?
Especially at the beginning of my career, knowledge of derivatives, financial statements and corporate finance have been beneficial in securing my first roles. Advanced excel and some basic programming skills were also useful to stand out. Fast forward to today, a general knowledge of investments and accounting is quite handy when talking to customers and colleagues from other teams. Beside work, financial literacy is also key to understand the complex dynamics of world we live in.
What is your advice to USI students entering the job market?
Firstly, learn or get involved in anything that can give you an edge over the others; it can be anything from coding to writing beautiful content. Secondly, and I know it can be hard at the beginning, think ahead and beyond your current job; in a world that plays monopoly, my suggestion is to play chess. Finally, remember that life is more than your career: think about your mental and physical wellbeing and don't be too hard on yourself!