As a perils pricing manager for IAG (Australia and New Zealand’s largest general insurer), Philip Conway quantifies the impact of natural disasters and climate change. Below, he shares his STEM journey with us.
From a young age, Philip was interested in STEM and was always trying to engineer contraptions (with mixed results – he lost his two front teeth building a catapult!). By the time he got to secondary school, it was obvious he had a passion for understanding how things and the world worked. “That, combined with an affinity for solving problems especially through maths, made me want to pursue a career in engineering,” he says.
After studying a Bachelor Civil Engineering at University College Dublin (UCD) – and nabbing a PhD in engineering from the same university – Phil became a senior engineer at WMAwater and worked on one of the most meaningful projects of his career so far.
“The Pacific Highway connecting Sydney to Brisbane was being upgraded and while I worked at WMAwater,” he explains. “I was responsible for developing the models that ensured the roadway and bridges could withstand floods as well as not make flooding worse for nearby communities. To this day when I drive on it I see the features our team influenced and the contributions we made to this landmark project.”
Now working at IAG, Philip leads a team with expertise in actuarial sciences, engineering, DevOps and GIS. Their goal? To develop natural perils models to quantify the impact of natural disasters and climate change. “The national models my team build or leverage include address-level hazards such as bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, floods and storms,” he explains. “These are overlaid with engineering relationships and financial modules to identify the risks a customer is potentially exposed to.”
Identifying these risks ensures communities across Australia are built in areas and in a way that are compatible with current and future potential natural disasters.
Advice for future STEM studiers
Back in school, Philip wishes he would have known just how versatile the STEM skillset is. “My career has gone from academia to engineering consultancy, large financial corporates and even start-ups,” he says.
He also believes that the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change will see more STEM jobs emerging.
His biggest piece of advice for young people wanting to learn about our pursue a career in STEM? “Don’t only learn from textbooks, keep finding ways to apply your knowledge or even better, learn by experimenting and building.”
Philip’s STEM study and career pathway to becoming a perils pricing manager
- Bachelor of Civil Engineering, UCD
- PhD Engineering, UCD
- Senior engineer, WMAwater
- Manager, Perils Pricing, IAG
Author: Louise Meers
Louise is the production editor for Careers with STEM. She has a journalism degree from the University of Technology, Sydney and has spent over a decade writing for youth. She is passionate about inspiring young people to achieve their biggest goals.