Ian Mair: Tesco
ACMA, Central Finance Director, Tesco
‘CIMA has given me the confidence to make big business decisions’
How did you start out?
I started out my academic life doing pharmacology as an undergraduate degree then went on to complete a PHD in neuroscience. I moved into medical communications, working closely with the managing director in the area of business development, and started to develop a passion for how the business worked as opposed to the science behind it.
Why did you choose to study CIMA and how has it helped you professionally?
I really wanted to have a business qualification, not just a finance qualification. I came into finance a bit later, it’s not something I studied as a degree, so I wanted a qualification that would give me a broad business perspective.
On a personal level, CIMA has really helped give me the confidence to make key business decisions and advise others of the financial implications.
Why did you choose to join Tesco and what keeps you there?
I originally joined Tesco as it was a big company that could provide me with lots of different experiences. Ten years on, that’s why I’m still here. Tesco continues to offer me the opportunities to develop. It has enabled me to travel internationally and spend time in China, really broadening my perspective and increasing my skills base. It’s also been great fun along the way. And it’s that, along with the excitement and dynamism that keeps me at Tesco.
Do CIMA students often progress onto such senior levels within Tesco?
At a very senior level our group finance director Laurie McIlwee is a CIMA member. He took over from Andrew Higginson who was also a CIMA member. So clearly CIMA has played a critical role in developing their careers and getting them to the pinnacle of a finance career.
Is there any advice you would give to future students thinking of studying towards the CIMA qualification?
It’s not just about the exams. It’s the practical application of what you learn that will shape your career. So always look for the finance angle. Always look for where the things that you’ve learned can be put into practice and drive the business forward.