Simon Malek-Jahanian ACMA, CGMA has worked at Hitachi Data Systems since November 2007. He joined the technology and services company as operational financial controller and subsequently worked as finance director for the UK, Ireland, Middle East, Turkey and Africa, before taking up his current role in July 2011.
Today, as regional finance and commercial director, he is responsible for the commercial finance teams in the UK, Ireland and South Africa. These teams provide all the bid support from a pricing and commercial negotiation perspective alongside the sales teams as they enter into bids and negotiations with customers, while also maintaining responsibility for the P&L, balance sheet and all reporting within the region.
How did you feel on qualifying with CIMA?
On a personal level, I felt very proud to have passed the exams. I wanted to qualify as quickly as possible, so I took evening and weekend courses and sat the exams in batches of four. It was hard work but it was important to me to get qualified.
From a professional perspective getting a qualification that had such a broad scope and that was recognised as a business qualification was critical to my longer term career. I have always enjoyed working within commercially focused roles, and CIMA gave me this edge.
What skills have you gained or developed through CIMA?
Right from the exams even to now, CIMA teaches you to look at situations differently. With a broader syllabus, covering subjects such as law, organisational structure, strategic decision-making as well as the fundamental financial elements, I have found that I am able to be a more rounded business partner.
The subjects you learn about while studying and then the courses CIMA offers after qualification give members a strong foundation. Courses like commercial skills for financial managers underpin the qualification’s broader approach.
How have you added value to your company?
I have supported general management as a business partner to facilitate double digit year on year growth, whilst coming in under on spend and delivering stronger operating profit.
I have also driven change within the organisation, bringing finance out of the back office and into the front office, where it can be seen as a proactive business partner.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
The top three aspects are:
- supporting an army of sales people at quarter end as they try to close their deals
- supporting our general management to set the business strategy and direction
- getting out from behind the desk and meeting our customers who want our technology.
What difference has being employed by a CIMA development partner made to your CPD?
Hitachi Data Systems has always taken development very seriously and as a consequence we applied for the partner programme for continued professional development. I do think that formalising the relationship makes HDS more appealing as a prospective employer.
How has CIMA membership helped you professionally?
I think it has underpinned my whole professional career. As a finance director in industry today I think it is expected that you will have a finance qualification. Having CIMA as a qualification gave me the fundamentals for working in industry and has helped me get to the broad role I enjoy today.