Nikunj Sharma, Graduate Student in Enterprise Risk Management at School of Professional Studies

Which program/department are you in?

Enterprise Risk Management.

What is your primary area of research?

Actuarial Science.

Which country (or countries) do you come from?


How long have you been in the U.S.?

I have been living in New York City since June 2023. I moved here after six years of living in three European countries, visiting 47 European cities, including a ski trip to Austria and France and 10 minutes of improvement in my 10-k run, which I hope to improve even further in New York City.

Tell us about your education and work experience prior to Columbia.

After graduating through correspondence in 2009, I spent four years at a multinational company in Delhi, working with a diverse team in risk and management, including those who attended Harvard. This experience shaped my perspective. Concurrently, I embarked on the journey of clearing actuarial science exams. By 2014, I moved to Mumbai, starting anew in a UK-based firm, navigating the world of actuarial work from scratch. 

Mumbai became my classroom, where I conquered more actuarial exams. In 2017, I recognized the need for a full-time university degree, which was lacking on my resume. I relocated to Lisbon for a full-time Master's degree in Actuarial Science at ISEG. I thrived in those three transformative years in foreign lands, embracing new cultures and weaving connections that spanned continents. I volunteered in Erasmus engagements and actuarial roles. Amidst it all, I thrived, and during my third semester, I embraced an actuarial role at Marsh & McLennan, culminating in a thesis centered on risk as I completed my degree in 2020. My aspiration was to become a qualified Actuary. 

In 2020, I secured admission to a UK university in Edinburgh for a full-time MSc. Determined not to abandon my job, I embraced the challenge of balancing both, turning nights into days. This was undoubtedly the most difficult challenge I’ve ever faced. 

By 2021, I completed my UK University program with merits, then realized my dream at Deloitte, Manchester, diving into a full-fledged actuarial consulting role. Following further actuarial exams in Manchester, I earned a title of a Part Qualified Actuary. Moreover, Columbia was the answer to my curiosity about risk management. 

After months of anticipation, unbelievably, I secured admission and commenced my first full-time semester in spring 2023 remotely at the Ivy League institution, all while maintaining a full-time role at Deloitte, UK. I navigated classes across time zones. These four months of my life were the hardest but very worthwhile, full of learning, and I received straight A’s in my first semester. With each challenge conquered, I revealed my true potential.

What would be your tip for other Columbia students and scholars?

No matter how distant the journey may appear, nothing is impossible through perseverance and dedication for those who dare to dream and are willing to work tirelessly.

What do you like about NYC/ Columbia and what do you do in your free time? 

Being able to be surrounded by diverse people across continents. Some hobbies: Running, making friends and exploring local restaurants, café, libraries, museums and bars!

Connect with Nikunj on instagram  and on Linkedin.

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