Maths leadership

Maths leadership

Play your numbers right

Pump up your maths tool kit and be a leader all the way.

“What has calculus got to do with the real world?” can be heard from any high-school kid, sitting in a classroom. But maths skills are crucial in today’s job market and will be a must-have for many of the jobs of the future.

“As a foundation skill, maths will open up new doors for people who want interesting, world-changing careers,” says Danny Gilligan, co-founder of Reinventure.

Danny is a venture capitalist and maths leadership is at the core of his role. “We look at 200 to 300 new ventures per partner per year and decide to invest in just two or three,” he says. “This requires an almost intuitive sense of numbers to make quick decisions.”

Reinventure specialises in financial technology (fintech) and implementing new tech to improve traditional financial services. While old finance was dominated by big banks and big businesses, fintech is full of startups and smaller companies, companies that might look at everything from how fast-transaction database Blockchain and digital currency Bitcoin can revolutionise banking, to investing in insurance-tech apps that use security cameras, smoke alarms and even moisture sensors to alert homeowners of anything unusual at their property.

And the people behind these startups need maths leadership skills, too. “Being able to read, manipulate and analyse data is key to growing my business,” says Lachlan Heussler, managing director of Spotcap Australia and New Zealand, a company that uses sophisticated credit algorithms to lend money to small businesses online.

Maths leadership can be found across all industries

Fintech is an example of a multibillion-dollar industry that didn’t even exist 10 years ago, but other maths-related industries have been around for centuries. An actuary, for example, is like a fortune teller, applying problem-solving skills to help organisations plan for the future and protect against big biz risks.

Phin Wern Ting, a life insurance actuary at ClearView Wealth Ltd, who completed a Bachelor and Master of Actuarial Studies in 2013 at the Australian National University (ANU), says: “Actuarial studies was attractive because it has a strong focus in numbers yet business acumen is essential.”

With newly qualified actuaries earning around $100,000 per year and more senior roles pocketing $250,000 a year, the profession is well paid. But if traditional actuarial areas of business and insurance don’t interest you, Bridget Browne, who was Phin’s lecturer at ANU, says actuarial skills can also be applied to various passions.

Bridget develops mathematical models (programs that use maths to predict things) to determine how services like health, education, welfare, child protection and justice work for individuals.

“These models are then used to help government agencies provide services and benefits to those in need,” says Bridget.

– Ben Skuse


Check out some work and study options…


YouTube: UNSW Business School

Twitter: @ausfintech

Facebook: @finsiayfp

LinkedIn: The University of Sydney Business School


Pre-University Calculus, EdX

Introduction to Actuarial Science, ANUx MOOC

Bachelors of Mathematics/Commerce, The University of Queensland

Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Mathematics, Queensland University of Technology

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Analytics, University of Technology Sydney

Bachelor of Actuarial Studies, Australian National University


Entrepreneur *$98,519

Actuary *$98,769

Corporate executive *$76,433


Deloitte | KPMG

Commonwealth Bank

PwC | EY

Reserve Bank of Australia

Ben Skuse

Author: Ben Skuse

Ben Skuse is a UK-based former mathematician turned professional science writer, who has written for the Careers with STEM magazines for over 5 years. You can follow him on Twitter @BenSkuseSciComm.