Conor has a degree in Business, Economics and Social Studies at Trinity College Dublin and became a CIMA Ireland member in 2020. Take a look at his Q&A:
Tell us a bit about your role?
I currently sit on the Audit Committee for Mayo Workwear. The role of the Audit Committee is to oversee the effective financial and risk management of Mayo Workwear, including assisting the Board in discharging its responsibilities for monitoring the integrity of the Company’s financial statements, the effectiveness of the systems of internal controls, and to report and make related recommendations to the Board. As an organisation with a growing presence in over 130 countries worldwide we must also ensure that we are in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which we operate.
What has been your biggest career achievement to date?
I am most proud of our team’s success in achieving charitable status with the organisation we founded, Stampify. We founded Stampify in early 2018 and became a registered charity in summer 2020. Receiving charitable status was the culmination of months of work in crystallising our charitable purpose, strengthening our business model, and defining financial and impact targets and forecasts. It was a great milestone to validate our journey and confirm we were on the right track to continue growing the organisation.
Why did you choose CIMA as your professional qualification?
CIMA appealed to me because the curriculum offers a broad perspective of the business environment and the qualification is recognised worldwide. This flexibility allows one to work across a range of industries, roles and geographies.
What skills have you gained through studying CIMA and how have they contributed to your role?
Studying CIMA has been advantageous in providing clarity on strategic thinking and risk management. Starting your own initiative requires that you have a solid understanding of your own strategic context and can define corporate strategy in a way that is easy to understand for all stakeholders. Alongside this, there is an ever-increasing number of risks facing organisations in contemporary business settings, particularly in the digital age we live in. Understanding the sources of these risks, how they impact your strategy and formulating appropriate responses is an important skillset for leaders to help in navigating complex business environments.
How has CIMA membership and the CGMA designation contributed to your professional career?
Having the CGMA designation means you become an attractive hire for prospective employers. The qualification is viewed very positively in the workplace and has definitely opened up some interesting opportunities. Being equipped with the weight of the CGMA designation, and the education and experience which underpins it, gives you more confidence and legitimacy when involved in business decision making, and helps you to add more value to your organisation.
How do you see CPD as being of value to you in keeping your qualification relevant to the constantly changing business environment?
CPD helps to keep your qualification relevant to a constantly changing business environment by providing flexibility. Completing CPD offers the opportunity to gain insight into thought leadership, best practice and cutting-edge tools and methodologies across a broad range of business areas. This flexibility allows you to identify for yourself what elements of professional development are most applicable for your industry, role and aspirations, and pick relevant development opportunities based on this assessment. This also allows you to keep your continuous improvement journey enjoyable, ensuring you can pick topics of interest to you.
How did you balance work and study?
This balance proved quite difficult to strike. Oftentimes it is not very appealing to return home after work to an evening of study, so you need to find multiple slots to schedule time for study. Setting aside time at the weekends is an easy way to get a few extra hours in each week and taking a day or two of annual leave closer to the exam was great to help focus. Fortunately, my employer at the time also granted three days of study leave in the lead up to an exam which allowed my final preparations to take place without any distractions. I always made sure to set time aside for myself to unwind and recharge the batteries. Staying active and socialising with friends (I finished my exams pre-COVID!) were great ways to clear my head and be ready for day/week ahead.
What advice would give to anyone thinking of studying the CIMA qualification?
Talk to people who have completed the CIMA qualification and ask questions that are important to your unique goals and situation. Make sure to find out how the qualification will support your personal and professional development. I would always be very happy to chat with anyone who reaches out to me!
Give yourself enough time to do the exams, do not feel like you have to rush through them – everyone goes at their own pace. It is important to be in alignment with your employer with regards to any foreseen study leave/time off required.
Do people have any misconceptions about your role and your profession in general?
I think there is some misconception that individuals who complete a professional accounting qualification are cornered into a role that looks only at a company’s finances. In fact, such a qualification provides a strong understanding of the financial implications of a business decision which is required at all levels of an organisation. Having this understanding allows one to contribute in multiple ways to the formulation and implementation of corporate strategy. This is particularly true of the CIMA qualification because it educates students on a broad spectrum of business functions.
Can you tell us the value the CIMA qualification has added to your career?
The CIMA qualification has opened up my career to a range of exciting opportunities, both in Ireland and abroad.
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