Recent UNSW Business School graduate, Marie Echevarria (Bachelor of Actuarial Studies, 2021) learnt contemporary industry-relevant knowledge, met inspiring people, and acted as an advocate for gender equality as a Women in Business ambassador.

Here's what she had to say about the experience.

My name is Marie Echevarria (she/her). From 2020-21, I was a Women in Business (WiB) Ambassador for the School of Risk and Actuarial Studies, UNSW Business School.

WiB Ambassadors support the uplift of female participation in disciplines where women are typically still underrepresented: Risk and Actuarial Studies, Banking and Finance, and Information Systems and Technology Management. We aim to be role models for female-identifying students, raise awareness of the opportunities and benefits of working in these disciplines, and work towards greater gender equality.

When I saw the role in the Career Accelerator Student Newsletter, I immediately applied. I am passionate about empowering women in Actuarial Studies, which is where I want to work, and I had very few female role models in this field at the time. Plus, with two jobs and a full-time university study-load already on the go, the flexibility of the WiB role appealed to me.

I received my offer for the role and got straight into it! My first task was to prepare for the Girls in Business (GiB) Camp, a flagship WiB event, of workshops, networking with students, alumni and industry partners, participating in information sessions, which were aimed at female high-school students interested in studying at UNSW Business School. It was only the start of my incredible journey as a WiB Ambassador – here is what I learnt on the way.

#1 You will meet inspiring women

An unforgettable moment of the 2020 GiB Camp was when I chaired a one-on-one panel discussion with Robyn Denholm, Board Chair of Tesla. Robyn offered a wealth of knowledge on her experience as a woman in business, and it was incredible to work with her during the panel.

I also had the chance to hear from other notable women: Nicolette Rubinsztein, Former President, Actuaries Institute and UNSW alumna; and Judith Beck, Founder, Financial Executive Women. With years of industry experience from diverse fields, these speakers brought such rich insights into how their journeys in business have progressed, from childhood to the present day.

While the aim of the GiB Camp is to engage and encourage high school students, the speakers’ experiences were just as inspiring to me.

#2 You will develop transferable skills

I built upon my chairing experience the following year at the 2021 GiB Camp and this time chaired the hour-long Industry Panel, which had many notable guest speakers. Annie Shu, Manager of Strategy and Innovation, Westpac; Camilla Love, Founder, F3 – Future Females in Finance; Elaine Collins, Non-Executive Director, Zurich, and Professor of Practice, UNSW Business School; and Jennifer Child, Partner, McKinsey, all explored technological innovation, financial services, insurance, and consulting.

Facilitating discussions like this helped me develop skills such as communication and relationship building. In a fast-paced environment like business and consulting, clear and concise communication with teammates and clients is essential to long-term relationship building.

#3 You will inspire the next generation to lead

Along with the other WiB Ambassadors, I worked to support the visibility and representation of women at various outreach events, including UNSW Open Day, UNSW Info Day, and UNSW Business School Experience Day. We interacted with hundreds of students and contributed to events with a positive impact, it was incredible.

For example, at Experience Day, the only all-girl table at the Actuarial Studies workshop was the fastest to solve a life insurance premium calculation. Their energy was inspiring! Meeting young girls passionate about quantitative actuarial applications to business problems made me feel optimistic about the increase of female leaders in our field.

Over my tenure, I engaged with many students who had started with doubts about their futures but left the interaction feeling excited about their prospects.

Fellow WiB ambassador, Samantha Chia (Bachelor of Commerce, 2021), says she found the same. “By sharing my lived experiences and encouraging a candid dialogue about barriers in business, I felt I was able to foster a community of inclusivity and empowerment for others.”

#4 You will learn what it means to be a lifelong advocate for gender equality

WiB brings about inspiring moments, but you can’t help but reflect that there remain barriers for women pursuing a career in business, which makes initiatives like WiB necessary.

Workplace Gender Equality Agenda’s 2019-2020 dataset shows that only 18.3% of CEOs and 32.5% of key management personnel are women.

In actuarial studies there is also a lack of female representation, and not just in leadership positions. The Australian Job Outlook indicates only 34% of actuaries are female. Going back all the way to high school, only 35% of HSC Mathematics Extension 2 enrolments were female in 2021 – a key skill for many actuary roles.

It’s figures like these that motivate me to advocate for gender equality in actuarial roles, as well as to inspire young students to explore a future in business. As Camilla Love discusses in AGSM @ UNSW Business School’s The Business of Finance Podcast, younger girls need to be encouraged to pursue their interests despite prevailing stereotypes in business and finance.

Being a Women in Business Ambassador has allowed me to engage with so many high achieving women who pave the way to success for other women in business. Now that I am starting my career, I look forward to doing the same for others.


Want to learn new skills and elevate your university experience by becoming a Women in Business Ambassador?
Applications are now open for a new cohort of Women in Business Ambassadors.

Sign up to UNSWConnect to apply now.