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Olimpia Niculescu ACMA, CGMA

With a career spanning over two decades, Olimpia can confidently count leading global teams, implementing division wide automation projects and being a successful finance and people manager. Having recently relocated to Germany, she is now discovering the mathematics of the Goethe’s language, together with pursuing her professional goals.

What prompted you to start your CIMA qualification?   

I have always wanted to further my education and initially I was looking for an executive MBA. When my employer in Romania offered us the opportunity to further our accounting skills, I hesitated between the ACCA and the CIMA curricula, as ACCA is rather well known. But since CIMA has a more consistent and integrative management approach, I chose the qualification that had the integrative focus.

What turned out to be your biggest challenge in the CIMA qualification process?

Surprisingly, the PER process. Having done it during my maternity leave, it was somehow challenging having to remember exactly the situations when I had demonstrated the required skills. Also, my career progress is not a typical one, being much more operations oriented, and  this might have lead the assessors to be more sceptical of my submission.

How did CIMA affect your professional situation? Which element of CIMA was the most useful for your job?

Well, I cannot pick only one as I juggle every day through different roles and the challenges vary but I  can certainly say that the CIMA professional skills have helped me implement an freight invoices standardization and automation process that lag behind, with two years of stop and go, and enabled me to address to the key elements that drove  quick and solid progress. I could clearly see the wood behind the trees, like we say in Romania. 

Also, I can answer the analysis and performance needs of a transforming organization, and understand the challenges of the various departments. I feel I am not just an accountant, but a real business partner, and the feedback of the organization confirms it.

Do you think that acquiring additional qualifications and certificates is important in your profession?

It really depends on the person and the scope of the qualification gained. Being CIMA qualified does not mean you are necessary a better professional, if you do not apply the knowledge. It just makes you more informed. 

CIMA members must translate the dry concepts into tangible actions and results. This is where I see the real value added of the curriculum, in the fact that it is extremely forward looking and real life oriented. 

Information is as good as its use, so it is a matter of individual choice if we put the CIMA qualification into practice. I certainly see the value for myself.

Who would you recommend the CIMA qualification for?

I would recommend it especially to the professionals who have acquired a certain level of experience and can relate to the examples discussed in the curriculum. CIMA is not a dry lecture of scientific notions and demands a certain degree of assessment of the business cases.

I also recommend it highly to the colleagues who are juggling between career and family commitments, as it can be organized at their own personal pace. 

That being said, I do not really see any “contraindications” for CIMA.

What kind of advice can you provide to future students in management accounting? 

To not be deterred by the hardships, be it at work or during the study. As management accountants we tend to focus more on what can go wrong and take the success drivers for granted. Yes, we are the guardians of the value creation but we must help the company gain, not only cut costs.

Be it in a professional environment or during the late night study hours, find back what is your strength and build on it.