Role: commercial finance analyst
Location: United Kingdom
Highlights: travel, senior responsibility
Passed finalist Lucie Milburn's job at global drinks business Diageo has brought new meaning to the phrase 'in at the deep end.'
Since joining in September 2005 - the first member of the company's university graduate finance scheme - Lucie has worked in highly responsible roles.
The highlight to date was an exciting business partnering role on a global inventory project.
The company whisked her off to Amsterdam to meet with people from Diageo supply centres across the world.
'It was nice to be able to see it from start to finish, delivering the targets at the year end. It gave me invaluable exposure to parts of the business around the world.'
Amsterdam was the central point for people coming from many different supply centres, including from Latin America, North America, Asia, and Africa. They were all trained and set their objectives there.
Benefits of CIMA
'CIMA has generally given me a toolkit, a means of presenting information and understanding pressures across the world. For example, you have to deal with exchange rates and interest rates.
'It has also put me in the right mindset for appreciating other areas of the business, and given me the tools to present my experiences in a way that can be understood. The inventory project came at the perfect time, because I was doing the Strategic level, so that, and going into TOPCIMA, ran parallel with what I was trying to achieve in my role.'
Part of the scheme
People on Diageo's new finance graduate scheme are expected to complete the CIMA qualification before they leave it. The scheme is part of a drive by Diageo's finance function to develop a talent pool which will support its operations growth. How did it feel to Lucie to be the first ever graduate on this scheme?
'I felt quite proud and privileged to have been chosen because it was a tough recruitment process.'
Work and study balance
Mixing study and work has been hard. 'You don't appreciate the demands of the day job and studying until you're in the middle of it. The most important thing I learnt was that you must have time for you. Otherwise, you don't give so effectively in your day job because you need that rest. You need to take a step back and reflect on what you've learnt.'
She loves going to the gym and her workout sessions took on ever greater importance. 'At the start, I thought I can't afford an hour at the gym, but towards the end, it wasn't just something I wanted - it was giving my mind a break. I found that after the gym I was taking more in.'
In particular, her TOPCIMA case study gave her a breadth of understanding about filtering, summarising and reporting information. This gives management the high level information and action points they need to make the right decisions without getting bogged down with the numbers.
It's been an intense two and a half years, but Lucie has stepped up to the challenge admirably. She had nine exemptions from her CIMA accredited accounting and finance degree, but still did very well to finish her exams in September 2007. It felt good to have achieved so much, and she was 'proud that I did it in that length of time.'