ZIMBABWEAN actuarial scientist Marjorie Ngwenya continues smashing records after she was this week appointed as an external member of the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Committee.
The 43-year-old business leader was appointed to the key role in the British banking system by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak.
Ngwenya comes in as a replacement for British banker Norval Bryson.
She will serve a three-year term starting on 5 September 2022. An accomplished actuary, Ngwenya holds a Sloan MSc in Leadership and Strategy from the London Business School.
She currently serves as a non executive director on a number of boards in the insurance and not for profit sector in South Africa.
Previously, Marjorie served as President of the UK Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), having served on its council for eight years. In so doing, Marjorie became the first president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries to be based outside the UK.
Bank of England boss praises Marjorie Ngwenya
Marjorie made history when she became the youngest president in the Institute’s 160-year history, the third female and the first Black to have held this role.
“Marjorie’s experience in international financial services will add valuable insight and expertise to the Prudential Regulation Committee,” Sunak said in a statement published by the British Government.
The Prudential Regulation Authority supervises banks, insurers and major investment firms. The PRA’s most important decisions are taken by the Prudential Regulation Committee (PRC), chaired by the Governor of the Bank of England.
For her latest appointment, Ngwenya received praise from the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, who said she brings in rare skills and a wealth of experience to the key role.
“I am delighted to welcome Marjorie to the Prudential Regulation Committee. She brings a wealth of experience on the insurance side and will make a valuable contribution to the work of the Committee,” Bailey said.
He added that Ngwenya possesses “senior leadership experience” which will be crucial “for our work on the Solvency II reforms and the future regulatory framework”.
Ngwenya as Junior Deputy Mayor of the City of Harare
Born in the UK, Marjorie was raised in vibrant and diverse post-independence Zimbabwe where she completed her Advanced Levels at Chisipite Senior School in Harare.
Her leadership talent was apparent back in Harare during her high school days, when she was elected as Junior Deputy Mayor of the City of Harare at the age of 17.
Since taking an early interest in service and volunteering, Marjorie has never looked back despite setbacks in her life that saw her drop out of college over failure to raise fees.
After high school in Harare, Marjorie moved back to the United Kingdom in 2000 to begin a BSc Actuarial Science degree at the London School of Economics.
However, financial challenges relating to the crumbling Zimbabwe dollar back home almost crippled her newfound career journey and pulled out of her undergraduate studies and she entered the workplace as a school leaver.
Marjorie was determined to qualify as an actuarial scientist and she undertook professional examinations while working at Deloitte, despite not possessing and undergraduate degree. As hard as it was, Marjorie fought her way up and qualified as an actuary in 2006.
“There were only about five actuaries in Zimbabwe at the time. The appeal was that it was challenging, rare and something to do with maths, which was a natural strength of mine,” Ngwenya explained in a previous interview with The Actuary magazine.
I look forward to the new challenge: Ngwenya
Responding to her latest appointment, Marjorie said her experience on the global financial services market will come in handy and she will be equal to the demanding task.
“I am delighted to be appointed as an external member of the Prudential Regulation Committee as it considers a number of important issues, including the Future Regulatory Framework Review and Solvency II reforms.
“I look forward to contributing my international financial services experience in support of the work of the Committee.”
Ngwenya’s trailblazing career in business and reinsurance
In accepting the new appointment, Marjorie will be juggling too many balls in the air at once as she currently serves an independent non-executive director at Tangerine Life (Nigeria) and its holding company Tangerine Financial.
She is the chairperson of the Canon Collins Trust (UK) and a trustee of the Legal Resources Centre (South Africa).
Previously, she served as the Group Executive Committee and Chief Strategist for Liberty Group in South Africa. Prior to that, Ngwenya was Chief Risk Officer for Old Mutual’s African Operations.
Before these top roles in South African, Marjorie served the City of London as a member of the Chartered Management Institute, as a board member of the Legal Resources Trust, and as visiting lecturer at Cass Business School.
Early in her career while based in Johannesburg, Marjorie served as the editor of The Actuary magazine for three years until the end of 2011.
For her trailblazing role in business and reinsurance, Marjorie has been raking up awards and nominations over the past decade. In 2012 at the Moneygram Zimbabwe Achievers Awards hosted in London, Marjorie Ngwenya took the Outstanding Achievement Award.
How and why did I become an actuary?
Telling her story to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in 2017, Marjorie chronicled her career path as follows.
“So how did I arrive at this position? Indeed, why did I become an actuary? I was raised in a small city called Gweru in Zimbabwe.
“My parents were the first generation of degree educated people in their family. For them education was everything. As a high school graduate, my range of career options was clear and limited.
“I was going to follow a profession. It was not negotiable. I wanted to be intellectually stimulated and rewarded in my work. Ideally, my career would also allow me to explore the world.
“So, when I discovered that actuarial studies had posed an elusive feat to all but a few of my peers in Zimbabwe and, liking a challenge, it appealed to me and gave me the drive to succeed. And so I did.
“I started my actuarial studies at the London School of Economics in London. But very early on at university, the Zimbabwe dollar began to depreciate, making it really tough for my parents to keep me in London. Therefore, I decided to withdraw from my studies and I took a job as a tax associate at Deloitte.
“When an actuarial vacancy arose in the company, I applied for the job, and got it, conditional on passing the actuarial exams. I do not have an undergraduate degree but, despite that, I went on to qualify as an actuary while working. But I also acquired a taste for volunteering.
“After many actuaries had given up their time to help me qualify, I decided that editing the UK profession’s magazine was the least I could do in return. I spent 3 years as editor of The Actuary magazine.
“I also volunteered for examination marking, teaching and eventually serving on the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA)’s Council. This will be my 7th year on Council.
“I am grateful to my parents for their insistence on a robust education and I am thankful to Council for their support and faith in nominating me to my new role.
“Given I do not resemble those who came before me, I was both surprised and delighted to have been nominated to become the first non-UK-based President of the IFoA. I am the third female President of the UK profession in 159 years and one of seven Council members based abroad.
“Nearly 50% of our members are based overseas. Our profession is increasingly diverse. We have come a long way. It is a time of change. Change brings about challenges, opportunities and risks. As actuaries, understanding risk is our business.”
Marjorie loves life, and good music
Away from hustle and bustle of her demanding financial services roles, Marjorie works passionately as a life coach and an advocate for diversity, equality and inclusion.
She has loved and enjoyed good music since her early years in London when she was lead singer in a disco band.
Marjorie believes that “time has always been in short supply” but humans must always find time to volunteer and help others grow.
“The profession relies on the contribution of volunteers and I feel a sense of responsibility to the people before me, who gave up their time marking my exam papers.”
It is something that she has also found fulfilling: “Within the profession there is a ready-made community where I can make a difference and a natural place to use my energy.”
As for role models, Marjorie has many of them.
“My role models are all the people I have interacted with, both professionally and personally, who displayed characteristics I admire, such as the ability to see beyond the employee and to consider the person as a whole; those able to put aside personal agendas and be supportive of the people they mentor.
“People who are not intimidated by their teams being excellent enough to outgrow them.
“I am reminded of a Zimbabwean proverb that states that, ‘Until the lion has his own storyteller, the hunter will always have the better part of the story’.”