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Eleni Albanis

Profile Summary


Academic History

  • BCom Economics and International trade

  • BCom Honours Strategic Management

  • MCom Applied Risk Management


Current Occupation

Risk Officer

My Journey with IRMSA


When you were selected for the internship?

It all began with Dr Whitey Van Der Linde - My Risk Management Lecturer in 2013, and a fellow member of IRMSA. During the first semester in my honours year at UJ, Dr Whitey introduced himself before we wrote our first exam. Being the realist that he is, he informed us of the work load that will be awaiting us on the other side of the first semester if we were brave enough to have selected his subject. He presented us with a wad of reading material in preparation for his class. Amongst these were the ISO 3100, COSO, The Orange Book, Thinking Fast and Slow and much more. He ended off by informing us that there are great opportunities available, should we be interested in exploring a career in Risk Management – from what I remember, all he left us with was an obscure acronym: “IRMSA”. Once the exams were over, I began exploring the “world of risk”, and figured out what and who IRMSA were. From there, there was no looking back!

When the applications officially opened for the internship in August 2014, I refreshed my CV, spent some time writing up my letter of motivation, applied and the hoped for the best! Shortly after, I endured what felt like the craziest morning of my life. Running my usual errands, I received an SMS from Bronwyn - the IRMSA marketing coordinator at the time - at 8 a.m. asking me if I was ready for my interview that afternoon…  Imagine the panic that coursed through me as I discovered that, somehow, the e-mail confirming my successful application and opportunity to be interviewed for the internship slipped through the ‘cracks of technology’. I was advised that all interviews were taking place that afternoon and I needed to come prepared with a presentation. I decided that I would not allow anything to stand between me and that incredible opportunity, so I took it in my stride and made sure I was at IRMSA’s offices on time, with a presentation in hand.

On 5 August 2014, I had the opportunity of presenting to the IRMSA Exco members on risk management and why I believed I was the right candidate to participate in the Cruywagen-IRMSA Risk Foundation (CIRF) Internship Programme. And it was also on 05 August 2015 that I received the exciting news that I was one of the two successful candidates.


Your experience from the internship programme?

September 2014 marked my first-ever internship and the beginning of a two week period that would turn out to be truly enriching and fulfilling journey, in both a personal and professional capacity. The first week was spent in Bloomington-Normal, where we visited the Katie School of Business, part of the Illinois State University. Bloomington-Normal is referred to as “the heart of Illinois” and is two hours out of Chicago, and the town-people are identified by their unmistakeable Midwestern Hospitality. The Katie School welcomed us to participate in their lectures, engage with other students, and present to them about who we are, our purpose on the expedition, our interest in Risk Management and some trivia on life in South Africa.

The second week was spent in Chicago – what a city! Besides the architecture that awes and the beautiful parks, Chicago simply buzzes with energy and excitement. It was at this stage of the trip that we had the opportunity to engage with the Board of The Katie School and, with roles reversed this time, watch the interns from the Katie School present on their experiences.

Over and above my time at The Katie School, a key highlight was networking with professionals from the risk management and insurance industry, including RIMS, Swiss Re, Zurich Insurance, Chubb Insurance, State Farm Insurance and Country Financial, and also the professionals of The Katie School Board. IRMSA positions their candidates in such a way that the industry professionals are as interested to get to know them, as they are to learn about the professionals.


What is the most significant thing you learned during the Internship programme?

Amongst other things, the knowledge, experience and exposure I gained in my time on the CIRF internship was invaluable. Aside from the international and dynamic environment I was exposed to, the internship gave me the opportunity to interact with and learn from various industry professionals. Continuous learning and collaboration was definitely the theme of the programme.

In a nutshell, the internship connected me to employers from both USA and SA, providing a unique opportunity for me and potential employers to connect and, if suitable, co-invest in the future. One can never really be clued up on what a job truly entails until they have physically worked in that role; even though the internship offered just a taste of the real world, it was enough to confirm my interest and passion for the industry.

Additionally, I had the chance to interact with various people (professional and non-professional) and further develop or refine my interpersonal skills - which is essential in any job. Particularly after attending the IRMSA 2014 conference, my awareness of the current developments in the sector increased – I attained valuable insight into what a job in this industry would entail, and also how this industry has and continues to evolve.

Lastly, I feel that the experience gained from this internship set me apart from other candidates looking to pursue a career in Risk Management.

Pictures of my Journey

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