What prompted you to start your CIMA qualification?
From the time I found my interest in finance and accounting at university, I knew I wanted to acquire an internationally recognised professional qualification at some stage. Despite completing a bachelor’s degree as well as two master’s degrees within the field of business and accounting, that is what I continued with after changing from being a university student to being an employee. The decision for CIMA only emerged when already being in employment and realising that this will be the most-suited choice. I strongly believe a professional qualification of such a high standard sets a clear benchmark and advances you further from university studies, providing enhanced long-term career prospects.
What turned out to be your biggest challenge in the CIMA qualification process?
I suppose one of the most common answers here is ‘managing time’. It also was for me. Bringing full-time work, personal life and intense study sessions under one roof can be overwhelming. In my case, this was aggravated by the fact that I did CIMA fully on my account within my time for studying. My employers during that period thankfully supported me in that I was always able to schedule my vacation around exams. However, the mere time constraint for studying, while sacrificing most of my vacation for that purpose, did, in some instances, make me question whether I need this qualification and put my level of motivation to the test. Now, I am very happy that I kept pushing through during these times.
How did CIMA affect your professional situation? Which element of CIMA was the most useful for your job?
There was not one specific topical aspect that was the most useful for my career. I had already covered a lot of the topics at varying levels within my university degrees. However, CIMA aligned all of this knowledge and lifted it to the next level overall by giving me exactly the right combination of breadth and depth of all content. In finance and accounting, all areas are somehow interrelated. CIMA pretty much covers all of them and still goes into a lot of detail. While this is a major challenge in terms of studying for it on the one side, this is what makes it relevant for any financial role within an organisation on the other side. In addition, it helps improve one’s understanding of the entire picture by connecting all dots and providing one with the ability to understand all implications stemming from any decision or action.
Do you think that acquiring additional qualifications and certificates is important in your profession?
I will keep this answer short: Yes, of course. Especially the accounting profession. And with it, the quality and reliability of accounting information is highly dependent on rigorous standards and professionals who adhere to these standards. Therefore, it is not only beneficial for the individual who undertakes such a qualification from a career perspective. It is much more critical for the accounting profession as a whole and essentially for the entire economy to function properly.
Who would you recommend the CIMA qualification for?
Anyone interested in pursuing a career within finance and accounting and looking for enhancing their professional value and employability. The CIMA professional qualification sets the standard for management accountants and can be uniformly trusted by employers across the globe. But even professionals not directly involved within the functions of finance and accounting can very much benefit from this qualification. The bottom line is that we are talking about business-thinking and making the right decisions which are relevant for any manager.
What kind of advice can you provide to future students in management accounting?
Seek to undertake CIMA fully supported by your employer. Aside from that, set professional goals for yourself and do all you can to achieve them. This can be very satisfying. But always focus on balance. Do not solely place your “career” at the centre of who you are and what you strive for in life. It is just business, not more, not less.