Solai Valliappan

Solai Valliappan has a Bachelor of Commerce (Actuarial Studies) from the University of NSW. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia & a Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuary.


Startup Consultant

When I was younger, I wanted to be an artist, and a tennis player, lawyer, graphic designer and architect.

I don’t remember maths being a huge part of my life growing up, but I have an uncle who is a maths professor and cousins who are engineers, so maybe I absorbed it along the way. It was in Year 9 or 10 that I got serious about maths. I enjoyed problem solving and loved the elegance of solving equations in different ways.

The short explanation of what I do now? I’m a juggling Excel wizard. Helping businesses with all things numbers and finance. It’s a cliché, but yes, my role does involve a lot of spreadsheets. My day can involve planning and forecasting, data analytics and metrics, accounting and operations, risk management and insurance, funding structures, board and investor reports and everything in between.

Recently I moved from the big corporate world to consultancy. Now I help get startups off the ground and bring business ideas to life.

Advising early stage companies and startups is a varied space because often there aren’t traditional established financial roles. It’s a balancing act as you need to keep an eye on the big picture and the day-to-day. For example, you might be testing how a change in materials cost affects your profit. But as a lecturer once told me, projections in a fancy model won’t matter if you don’t
have cash flow to pay your staff.

Qualifying as a Fellow of the Actuaries Institute was a major milestone for me. The path and exams involved are tough and it tested my resilience. But if I can do that, a future investing in fast growth early-stage ventures should be simple.




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