Interview with Karel Verbeeck, Domain Director Mobility & Actuarial team at Belfius Insurance

This month, we have the privilege to get a (virtual) face-to-face with Karel Verbeeck, Domain Director Mobility & Actuarial team at Belfius Insurance. As a Senior Executive, he is responsible for driving forward all mobility products (car, travel, fleet, etc.) and the actuarial teams across all non-life products (pricing, monitoring, etc.) for the Belfius and DVV brand. Mobility is one of the trendiest topics within the industry so it is the perfect occasion for us to get Karel’s insights about that domain.

Hi Karel! Can you tell us about your career path?

Sure. In 2011, I started at KBC Insurance as an Actuary. I worked there for 2 years as an intern within the Non-Life Department. I did a bit of everything from pricing and reserving to Solvency II. After that internship, KBC offered me the opportunity to do a couple of projects within product development and beyond. After more than 5 years at KBC, I decided to take a step forward in my career by joining Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as a Strategy Consultant.


It’s unusual for an actuary to join one of the top three strategy consulting firms (McKinsey, Bain, or BCG). What did you learn during those four years at BCG?

First of all, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to learn a new skill set. It requires deep diving in specific topics within a specific client context, while at the same time adopting a helicopter view. Besides, I had the opportunity to discover new industries like banking, and to broaden my expertise beyond product & pricing.


This experience also gave you the opportunity to work abroad. Can you tell us more? 

Indeed, I worked mainly in Benelux and UK. The insurance world in the UK and the Netherlands is typically more evolved, more digitalized and more price competitive. Compared to the Belgian market, those countries are ahead of us on a couple of dimensions. This experience enriched me, personally and professionally.


That leads us to Belfius…

Yes! I joined Belfius a year ago as Domain Director of Mobility, where I am managing the product team and the business analysts within mobility and the actuarial teams that are responsible for the pricing of non-life products and the optimization of our non-life portfolio.


What do you like most about your job at Belfius?

There is a very strong focus in Belfius on innovation and continuous improvements, ensuring we optimize our offerings to our customers. I strongly believe this is the right way to go. Besides, in the mobility domain, things are changing very fast and we must evolve at the same pace. For someone who likes change and development, I am at the right place!


The future of mobility is quite a hot topic today. What are the current and future challenges for all actuaries working on those products?

There are a couple of trends to be aware of.  First, on the short run, we see a clear move towards electric vehicles. What are the needs of their drivers? Also, the claims for those vehicles are quite different from what we are used to, clearly impacting the required pricing strategy.  

In addition, we see big changes in the way we mobilize ourselves, further accelerated by Covid-19 and the increased energy prices. Europe is not a front-runner here, whereas in the US, things have already shifted more. In the rural environments, I expect the car to remain the prime mode of transport for our daily activities. Conversely, in big cities, the uses are more and more varied.  In that case, your customers are not facing the same risks anymore, requiring insurers to rethink their business model. Also here, how does it impact the risks we are covering and the corresponding prices?

These are only a first selection of trends, I have not even started about the large amount of data cars generate nowadays, and the information and complexity it could bring to our price models.


As a director, how would you describe your management? What are the profiles you are looking for?

At this moment, my team is made up of 27 people. I believe it is important to build balanced team with a variety of skills, from project managers that get things done, to experts that deeply understand their area of expertise. In all cases, I prefer working with people that proactively take responsibility and have a positive, can-do mindset.

If I look at my management style, I try to avoid micromanagement as much as possible, as it is only counterproductive in the long run. I believe it is important to give people the freedom to build their expertise by themselves and have the confidence to come up with their own solutions. In my eyes, the job of a manager is to bring clarity and guidance on the general direction, coach the team and challenge the outcomes.


An experience during your career that has marked you the most?

My first experiences as a manager taught me the importance of keeping focus. We are living in a world where a lot of things are shifting, and nobody is 100% clear on what the future will look like. As a result, a lot of companies are facing multiple issues and tend to generate plenty of ideas to act upon opportunities.

More than ever, I try to keep myself and my teams focused on a couple of key priorities. Tackling 1000 topics at the same time is more likely to result in a lot of work, with often limited impact on the organizational goals.


A lesson learned during your career?

Always aim to be output-oriented. If you kick of a new project, block some time in your agenda to think up-front how the ideal solution would look like and what are the steps you need to take to get to this solution. Whether it is about determining a new price, creating a new value proposition, reviewing a process – it keeps you focused on the end-goal.


If you could change one thing about your job?

I would add a bit of travelling to other countries – always fun to see new places.


Let’s finish with our last signature question, the one we ask everyone to end an interview. Whether personal or professional: what would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?

Adopting a cat!

Funny Cats Pics | Facebook

Interview with Joanna Chardon, Chief Product and Pricing Officer at Wakam

This month, we introduce you to Joanna Chardon, Chief Product and Pricing Officer at Wakam, the digital French insurer that provides products for large European platforms and insurtechs. Among its clients, Wakam counts well-known names in the tech industry such as Deliveroo and Uber. In 2021, its turnover reached €450 million; a growth mainly driven by international business.

Joanna Chardon is one of the big names in pricing in France. As Head of Wakam’s Advanced Pricing Analytics, Pre-sales Pricing, Products and Underwriters teams, she talks to us openly about her career as an actuary.

Hi Joanna! What a pleasure to make this interview with you today. You are undoubtedly one of the leading figures in the field of pricing in France.  Can you tell us about your career path?

After my studies at the University of Gdansk in Poland, I started my professional life as an actuary in the Technical department of AXA XL (formerly AXA Corporate Solution). I oversaw the evaluation of specific risks such as asbestos, pollution or pharmaceutical risks.  An experience far away from mass risk pricing, in which I later specialised by participating in the creation of AXA’s direct entity in Poland in 2007. This exciting adventure led me to pursue my career in a new entity of AXA Global Direct. I held several successive positions as the global pricing teams grew. We built excellent teams in an international and very entrepreneurial context.

In 2018, I joined AXA France to build the “Center of Pricing Excellence” and help the local pricing teams to refine and industrialise their existing pricing methods and processes.

Finally in June 2020, I decided to join the insurtech Wakam to support its international growth and expansion.


Why this turn in your career after so many years at AXA?

Big companies are very formative and can offer the opportunity to work on large-scale projects. Indeed, I have spent almost 20 years in this environment, working in many different positions without ever getting bored. If you are looking for a well-defined job, to be part of a group with defined processes, to gain experience and to have a certain stability, a big international firm seems to meet these expectations perfectly.

However, with the explosion of the insurtech ecosystem, I simply wanted to explore these new distribution approaches in the insurance world. The opportunity that arose at Wakam corresponded perfectly to this desire. At Wakam, we are immersed in an insurtech culture, but we are also in partnership with many start-ups in different European countries. A change of scenery is guaranteed. Working in this environment requires a deeper commitment. You shouldn’t arrive with too many certainties but rather with a positive attitude of looking for solutions. You must also participate fully in the growth and success of the company in order to fulfil your potential. In the end, it requires a very entrepreneurial attitude to see opportunities where others do not.


Wakam is an insurtech with strong values (freedom, curiosity, excellence…) Has its corporate culture brought a new dynamic to your way of working?

At Wakam, everything moves very fast. The progress we’ve made in only 2 years is incredible. All “Wakamees” are free to tackle tasks of any scale and proactivity means not just taking orders from the boss but suggesting actions to customers to improve the product or service.

In such a culture, the executives are behaving like coaches rather than typical managers. In other words, it’s more about accompanying those who “move mountains” to help them reach their goal and  realise their ideas. This is a very different attitude from what I have seen in bigger companies. At Wakam, we cultivate a mentality of entrepreneurs who see the same reality as others, but who manage to find ways to transform it. Of course, this creates a whole new dynamic that requires a strong team spirit and the ability to take risks. Facing obstacles is also our daily routine.


What do you like most about your job at Wakam?

In such a varied and dynamic environment, you learn at high speed. It’s very satisfying and challenging. I have an incredibly passionate and dedicated team, really! They are very motivated people who are progressing very quickly. It’s great to support them in their progress. The human relationships are very enriching at Wakam.


Your team is made up of various profiles (end-to-end and pre-sales). How does this impact your role as Chief Product and Pricing Officer?

I am responsible for several teams: Advanced Pricing Analytics, Pre-sales Pricing, Products and Underwriters. These are teams that are growing very fast. In 2 years, we have gone from a very small team to 25 people (and we are still growing!). Together with my managers, we have succeeded in building high-performance teams with great cohesion, where each person is in their place. It’s a mix of balance and complementarity in our approach to managing projects with collective objectives. On a daily basis, I simply try to live up to their ambitions.


Can you tell us about one of the challenging projects you are currently working on at Wakam?

There are a lot of very important projects at Wakam. It is challenging to manage them all at the same time. However, with our rapid growth, we are focusing on the industrialisation of our processes and practices. In this context, I can probably mention the project to develop our APIs, which will allow us not only to manage our numerous pricing models but also to collect data dynamically to allow almost instantaneous pricing adjustments. This is a high impact project that brings together the pricing, IT and data teams.


What are the current and future challenges for all those working in pricing?

Most pricing teams are sitting on a huge wealth of strategic information. In the course of their work, they accumulate a ton of performance data that could be used to better inform several strategic decisions. Providing data to decision makers is a key responsibility for most pricing teams. But doing it right is a significant challenge.


According to Women in Finance, less than 30% of senior managers in finance are women. What advice would you give women to reach the highest positions?

Shirley Chisholm, the first black female member of the US Congress, once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Women must continue to demand their place in leadership and decision-making. We must remain authentic. We must not misrepresent who we are. As a woman, I certainly don’t have the same way of managing teams as a man and this is exactly how I make a difference.


An experience during your career that has marked you the most?

My experience is the fruit of an incremental learning process, an alchemical relationship between its different constituents. Everything is important – every encounter, every project, every assignment. To cut them out or isolate them would be to reduce them. At times, details that seemed insignificant before come back to me with great precision. It is a whole that leaves its mark as it goes along.


A lesson learned during your career?

To really believe in the intelligence of people and their full potential. I believe that simplicity and common sense have a bright future.


If you could change one thing about your job?

Not only in my job, but more generally, I aspire to a more inclusive and tolerant society that is open to differences with a kind of collective intelligence. It is an intelligence that can be learned, maintained, and passed on.


Let’s finish with our last signature question, the one we ask everyone to end an interview. Whether personal or professional: what would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?

In general, I make my choices in accordance with my intuitions, so it’s not a question of daring, but rather of maturing ideas or the right moment. I dream of certain trips to discover very different ways of life, but compatible with the climate challenges. An idea that needs to mature further.


Thank you very much for your time and your answers.




Interview with Audrey Meganck, CEO of Detralytics

This month, we introduce you to Audrey Meganck, actuarial consultant, and CEO of Detralytics: a Belgian-French consulting and training firm focused on actuarial science, data science and risk management. And they’re on a roll! The company has doubled its turnover in one year and is now expanding internationally. Meet a woman with a multifaceted career, captain of an actuarial ship that she steers with a deft hand.

1.  Hello Audrey, can you tell us about your career path?

During my thesis in Mathematics, Jean-Claude Debussche, then CEO of Mensura (BE) – Assubel at the time -, drew my attention to the actuarial profession. I then decided to leave the theoretical world of pure Mathematics to start something more applied. Jean-Claude is one of those people who played a major role in the development of my career. It is a blessing to have a mentor like him, always ready to advise you.

In parallel to my studies as an actuary, I was hired by Assubel-Accident du Travail (BE) as a Contract handler (in the Underwriting Department). This combination has helped me tremendously throughout my career. Understanding how an Underwriter assesses a risk, prices a risk, interacts with a broker, … These are aspects that you don’t learn in universities but are so important in the running of an insurance company.

Once I had my degree, I naturally evolved internally into a more technical position but still linked to underwriting, or rather its monitoring. This experience allowed me to continue my evolution in Risk Management which was emerging with the arrival of Solvency II.

When Allianz bought the business side of Mensura, I joined their Risk Management Department. Overseeing a broader scope, I was able to work on integration projects and broaden my technical knowledge by dealing with several business lines. I later joined Federale Insurance to pursue my development in Risk Management for two years.

Finally, after 10 years in the same field, I wanted to join a “first line” function again, and joined  Belfius as P&C Technical Manager. Even if Risk Management is exciting and is, fortunately, becoming more and more integrated with the business, it remains a “control function” and I wanted to get closer to the world I had known when I started in the insurance world, i.e.  business and underwriting. I have now been running Detralytics for 4 years.


2.  Why did you choose to pursue your career in consulting? Were you attracted by  the CEO position s?

This position allows me to discover multiple fields and companies. In addition, when your leadership is appreciated, it is satisfying.

However, the rise through the ranks of a company has never influenced my career choices. I even admit to being embarrassed when I am introduced as a CEO. It sounds very “imposing”… My career changes have never been calculated. Instead, I seized the opportunities that came my way  when all my selection criteria were met: the challenge, the content, and the human aspect. I must admit that I never considered the consulting world before Detralytics.


3.  What do you like most about Detralytics?

What is most important to me is to feel that I can bring real added value to a project or a team while remaining intellectually challenged. This is what I found at Detralytics. I also appreciate the diversity of my tasks, discovering new fields, meetings with insurance companies, the start-up aspect that allows me to write the history of the company almost from scratch and especially the human adventure. Indeed, Detralytics wants to offer a real springboard to young graduate actuaries through its TAP program (Talent Accelerator Program). Guiding them, advising them and, above all, seeing them evolve, gives me a great deal of satisfaction.


In addition to my job, I still consider myself an actuary and a mathematician. This position allows me to  keep on  making connections between academic developments and the technical-practical side by applying recent developments to a real problem. Seeing that these contributions bring value is extremely satisfying


4.  Any advice for actuaries who want to develop their career as quickly as yours?

In my opinion, it is important to maintain an insatiable curiosity about your field. This is something that my other mentor, Jean-Marie Maes (ex-consultant at Mensura) taught me during my early years as an actuary. His curiosity and great interest in technical developments really impacted  me. Finally, I would recommend everyone to get out of their comfort zone on a regular basis by taking on new challenges. Participating in training courses and working groups can also be very enriching in terms of content and contacts to broaden your horizons.


5.  Company director, trainer, expert consultant, member of the board of the Belgian Institute of Actuaries …. You are on all fronts! Is it a choice?

It’s more than a choice, it’s a necessity. All these activities nourish me intellectually and humanely and are a real driving force for me. Currently, I could not only be satisfied with one role. As long as it works, I’ll continue!


6.  An experience that has marked you the most during your career?

Looking back, it’s the encounters that stick in my mind the most. Not only the colleagues with whom I was able to evolve, but also the people I met at events, at institutes of actuaries or during training sessions.


7.  According to Women in Finance, less than 30% of senior managers in finance are women. What advice would you give women to reach the highest positions?

Above all, don’t change, stay true to who you are! We hear far too often that women are less listen to than men because they don’t thump the table. A woman who does so is seen as arrogant, whereas a man is seen as a great leader. By pounding the table, you are heard but not always understood. Instead of believing that women have to do the same to stand out, I prefer to encourage women to bypass these kinds of stereotypes by shining through their skills, determination and peer recognition. Furthermore, I believe that in any community, diversity is essential.


8.  As a woman, what kind of challenges did you have to overcome in your career?

As a woman, the challenge is often to balance career and personal life. It might sound cliché, but it’s the reality, especially when you want to start a family. My professional commitments deprive me of certain moments. Even though I am fortunate to have an amazing family who helps us a lot, I always feel guilty if I don’t spend enough time with my children.


And as an actuary?

As an actuary, my biggest challenge has been communicating with less technical profiles. Having to manage a relationship with salespersons at the beginning of my career taught me a lot on that level. When we talk about communication, we often focus on getting our message across , but deciphering the needs of the other  is just as important

9.  You have an international career to date, what are the most striking differences between the French and the Belgian markets?

I don’t see any significant differences, apart from the cultural differences that we already know about. I would say that the French market is much larger and therefore more closed  than the Belgian one. In Belgium, everyone knows and follows each other. In France, everything moves very fast. You can quickly lose track. However, a larger network offers more opportunities to young start-ups like ours.

10.  Do you have an anecdote to tell us?

During a meeting in France, I was asked to connect “the octopus”. I felt stupid because I didn’t know what it was. I had to ask the question 3 times and looked around for an octopus. In Belgium, we call it a spider.

11.  A lesson learned during your career?

That the content of a job is very important but that the company culture and the people working with you matter  just as much.

12.  If you could change one thing about your job?

That’s a very good question… I don’t see anything. I love my job and I love talking about it.

13.  Future projects?

To continue evolving with Detralytics and its consultants. I am also involved in activities outside the insurance world. I have always been interested in applying our actuarial models or techniques to other fields. I am currently helping a start-up in the field of debt collection to implement risk factor analysis to optimize debt management.

14.  Let’s finish with our last signature question, the one we ask everyone to end an interview. Whether personal or professional: what would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?

To cross the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat, preferably with my dad.

Personal picture provided through the courtesy of Audrey Meganck


Thank you Audrey for your time.

Do you have an atypical career? Do you know an actuary with a successful career? Send us a message at We would be delighted to conduct an interview together to share your experience with our networks.


Interview: Mathieu Lambert | Deloitte Consulting

It took only a few years for Mathieu Lambert to forge a name for himself in the insurance industry at the international level. After 10 years working at AXA, mainly in Belgium, Mathieu just gave a new impetus to his career by joining Deloitte Consulting as  Director. Read below the interview with an IT engineer and former gamer “Counter Strike” enthusiast, with an outstanding journey as an actuary.

Mathieu Lambert

Mathieu Lambert

Hello Mathieu, would you tell us more about your first experience in the actuarial sector?

My journey is quite atypical. I started with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and then moved on to Actuarial science. Once I graduated, I joined Reacfin, a Belgian actuarial consulting firm. I was able to start my career as a Consultant in charge of very practical missions such as model development and reporting. This type of mission allows you to acquire the right reflexes, especially when you  just graduated from university without any professional experience. After 3 years in consulting, AXA quickly offered me to take the lead of the  non-life risk management team. At this young age, I couldn’t refuse such an opportunity. We were in the middle of the “golden age of risk management”, a period marked by the implementation of the Solvency II regulation.

Throughout my career, I always wanted to get additional field experience that would allow me to better understand how an actuary could have a positive impact regarding insurance brokers and clients. Thus, AXA Group proposed me to go on a mission abroad. I started working at AXA Direct UK in London where I participated in the development of their dynamic pricing project. The UK market is very aggressive and price sensitive. The British people buy their insurance contract just as they buy their plane ticket, on specialized platforms called “aggregator”. Then, I headed to Turkey where I had to set up a non-existent pricing team and support the reserving teams.

In 2016, I returned to Belgium and started leading the pricing teams at AXA Belgium for P&C Retail activities. Rapidly, I also had to manage the Data Scientists department which was quite decentralized. Still with the willpower to better understand how the industry works and the reality of the teams , in addition to all my responsibilities, I accepted to take the responsibility for  all the legal protection part in order to collaborate with the operational, claims, product and innovation teams.


Compared to the classic career path of an actuary, you have evolved very quickly and became a manager at a very young age (30). What is the secret of your success? 

You are the master of your own career and you reap the rewards of what you sow. So for me it’s a question of investment. If you invest in a company with the objective of growing, you generally manage to evolve in a positive way. I would advise you not to hesitate to reinvent yourself, to question yourself, to embrace failure in order to bounce back better and to stay hungry for learning.. Moreover, it is important to see your evolution in a collective way. We never grow alone but with the help of our team. Mutual respect is therefore essential.


Have you faced particular challenges moving on quickly to management functions?

Throughout my career, I have always had to manage people older than me. It is important to gain their trust through credibility. I think I have achieved this by directly identifying the missions where the teams needed help in order to support them by being available. Indeed, I do not hesitate to take on a task myself when the team is overwhelmed. I have always favored this team spirit with my collaborators by acting as a coach and not as a leader. Victories are then shared together and not individually.


Would you advise actuaries to specialize themselves on a specific expertise or to broaden their skillset to develop their career?

Both have tremendous value for a company. It all depends on their professional perspectives. If you have a career as a specialist, I would advise you to hyper-specialize in order to be recognized as a specialist in your field and among your peers. If, on the other hand, you are a generalist like me, then you have to make sure you understand the multiple facets of an insurance company to be able to bring maximum value in the strategic choices.


AXA Group is a company that has invested heavily in data these past few years, what have you learned from your position as Chief Data Analytics?  

Today, an insurance company can no longer exist without data. This will be even more true in the future. Investments in data are becoming increasingly massive. For me, it is critical and central for the strategy of an insurance company to get to know its customers very well and its market by collecting data. One of the challenges will be to manage, use and above all exploit its data in order to stand out from its competitors.


Is there an experience that has marked you the most during your career?

My experiences at the international level have been the most memorable. You learn from other cultures by discovering other market contexts. Colleagues don’t adapt to you. You are the one who must adapt very quickly to respond conscientiously and coherently to the problems within the teams while respecting the local values and culture.


Any anecdote to share with us?

Despite the fact that I’m a computer scientist, actuary and a bit of a geek on the side, I’ve always been passionate about everything related to cultural transformation programs. A few years ago, when AXA launched this program, I was invited to be a coach. This experience marked the first step of my interest in leadership. Yesterday, we were able to work in a hierarchical way. Today, it is no longer the case. The way to motivate employees varies completely across generations.


Which lesson have you learned during your career?

Knowing how to benefit from one’s experiences, whether positive or negative, in order to keep on growing.


If you could change one thing in your job, what would it be?

I would say the international dimension. I really do miss travelling.


Any idea of what the future holds for actuaries?

The recent European flooding episode sets the tone perfectly. For me, an actuary is essential to the business of an insurance company on several levels. Being able to evaluate risks is an increasingly critical challenge that faces rapidly changing risks with random frequencies. The actuaries of tomorrow will also have to master all the data at their disposal to reveal the realities of the market.


Any future projects?

I recently decided to move one step further in my career by leaving AXA to go back to the consulting world with Deloitte, with the objective to focusing on major transformation projects. My ambition is to have an impact on the whole value chain of the insurance industry.


Congratulations on this new challenge! I suggest to end this interview with our traditional question, the one we always ask. Whether on a personal or professional level: What would you like daring to do that you haven’t done yet?

Travelling for 2months with my wife and my kids around the world. (smile)


Interview by Adrien Binon, December 2021.