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Caoimhe O’Reilly, ACMA, CGMA

Plant Finance Manager, Amcor

"CIMA raised my profile as a high performing student, and as a new member I continue to enjoy enhanced opportunities due to the credibility and respect the designation commands."

Caoimhe passed her final exams in January 2018. In August 2018, she become a CIMA member.

Why did you choose CIMA as your professional qualification?

My finance background, within a high performing manufacturing environment, made CIMA the natural next step for me on completion of my undergraduate business degree. I’ve worked with many inspirational CIMA members, and so I conceded this was not a bad club to join.

How did you balance study with working full time?

I opted for online tuition so I could fit study in around full-time work and family life. I like to plan for success, so I used a spreadsheet to devise study plans. Typically, I’d schedule short sessions during the week, and one longer session over the weekend. I often tweaked my plan to accommodate work/family/social commitments. For me this is the beauty of self-study; You set your own pace and targets to work around your life. It also makes it all the more satisfying when each milestone is achieved.

What skills have you gained through studying CIMA and how have they contributed to your role? 

First and foremost, CIMA taught me core accounting skills, pretty important if you want to pursue a career in finance! However, I think the most valuable skill I’ve learned is the ability to articulately explain what the numbers mean, and tailor this knowledge to different audiences. The case study exam encourages this approach and I’ve put it into practice within every role I’ve held. Good communication makes financial information so much more valuable; it empowers people at all levels of the business to make stronger, more informed decisions, yielding tangible positive results. 

What does your current role involve?

• Management of Manufacturing Plant Finance Team and all associated tasks.
• Participation in site Leadership Team; setting goals and supporting CI.
• Developing short- and long-term plans for the site (including annual budget).
• Forecasting revenue, monitoring expenditure and performing variance analysis.
• Support and analysis for investment cases (CAPEX) and post implementation follow up.
• Ensuring stocks are accurately valued and controlled, and that adequate controls exist on site.

In one sentence, describe the value the CIMA qualification has added to your career?

CIMA raised my profile as a high performing student, and as a new member I continue to enjoy enhanced opportunities due to the credibility and respect the designation commands. 

What are your biggest accomplishments/ways you have added value to your company or colleagues over the years? 

I have held many different roles over the years, but I would say I am most known for making things better. Whether it is managing a cost take out project delivering large financial returns or leading a team to overhaul inefficient processes. I’m a great advocate for professional development, and as such I have encouraged junior colleagues to embark on their own CIMA Journeys.  I’m also forward in promoting equality in the workplace, having held senior positions in corporate women’s network, and various charitable committees. So, in this respect, I’d like to think that I add most value to my colleagues by creating an environment where everyone is motivated and empowered to succeed. 

What are your perceptions about the CIMA 2019 Syllabus focusing on reinventing Finance in a Digital World?

I think this is a positive move from CIMA. The accounting profession is being transformed by digitisation, so in order remain relevant it is vital that we, the next generation of accountants embrace these changes and harness the opportunity to add even more value to the industries we serve.

How do you see CPD as being of value to you in keeping your qualification relevant to the constantly changing business environment?

Accountants are often working to deadlines and targets but it’s important to stop and acknowledge areas to improve and upskill. Having the structure of a CPD programme in place makes you to take stock, address any gaps, and take the opportunity to learn something new and interesting in our field.

How is your company providing support for you to fulfil your CIMA Professional Development (CPD) requirements?

I’m fortunate to work for a Global Leader and so I am supported to partake in training courses internally and externally to meet my CPD requirements.

What advice would give to anyone thinking of studying the CIMA qualification?

Do it, and go full steam. I am a firm believer if you start strongly you will carry on that trajectory so put as much effort as possible into passing your first exam. Set goals, book exams well in advance and build realistic study plans. CIMA is a journey, which indirectly impacts your loved ones too so understand who your support network will be and talk to them throughout. Finally, make sure to celebrate every success, and share that success with those who help you along the way. But not for too long. Book that next exam and keep your eye on the prize. I promise it will be worth it.

What do you see as the biggest challenges currently to the Irish Economy and to your job?

Brexit brings a period of uncertainty in Ireland which must surely present the biggest challenge in our current climate. The potential consequences on our economy are difficult to imagine. As with all risks however, there will be opportunity. We, as finance professionals, need to support businesses to make sound decisions, to weather the storm of uncertainty and even prosper in these circumstances.

How do you think technology is transforming your job and the market?

Increasingly technology is providing automated solutions to processes and tasks historically performed by accountants. The continuing trend to consolidate transactional processes in shared service centres for example. This frees up management accountants in the business to really focus on building strategies which will ensure sustainable success.