Kunwar Chadha has been a CIMA member for 14 years. He is the Finance Director FP&A, EMEA at Fitbit.
Image courtesy of the AICPA-FM Magazine
Why did you choose CIMA as your professional qualification?
I was interested in working for companies where I could use my analytical skills to add value in driving those businesses forward. Other accounting qualifications seemed to have a bigger element of audit and tax in their curriculum, which I wasn’t all that interested in. So, CIMA’s focus on training accountants to work for industry naturally appealed to me.
How did you balance study with working full time?
Working full time while studying a qualification such as CIMA requires discipline and commitment. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted but having a genuine interest in the subject can really give you that push and motivation to get through. I was somewhat of a nerd in my curiosity to learn the subject, so did enjoy the experience. Two pieces of advice I’d like to give to current students - (1) try to pace yourself through the course & (2) try to have a routine where you can find time to disconnect frequently, both from work and study – this is important so you don’t burn-out!
What skills have you gained through studying CIMA and how have they contributed to your role?
Apart from the technical skills that CIMA teaches, such as financial reporting, corporate finance and strategy, it encourages you to think analytically and critically throughout its course work. Analytical skills are one of the most well respected and sought-after attributes of CIMA members. I vividly remember doing the TOPCIMA case study, that required me to synthesise various subjects/theories into practical business advice. This experience helped me to bridge the gap between academics and real-life business, which set me up to take on more senior and strategic roles in business.
How has CIMA membership and the CGMA designation contributed to your professional career?
CIMA membership has contributed immensely to my career. As I was saying before, the skills I gained while studying CIMA have helped me immensely to work as an effective business partner – both at junior and now in senior roles. CIMA is an internationally recognised qualification, which also helped me to take my career international a few years ago when I moved to Dubai.
In one sentence, describe the value the CIMA qualification has added to your career.
Whether I’m interviewing or being interviewed, I know the training that CIMA provides and the brand it has built exudes quality and confidence in the job market.
What are your biggest accomplishments/ways you have added value to your company or colleagues over the years?
In 2019 ChannelSight raised $10m Series B funding which wouldn’t have happened if our revenue didn’t have a steep upward trajectory. I’m happy to have played a part in the growth of the company. This required us to bootstrap robust financial processes including revenue forecasting, efficient monthly accounting close, implementing a new pricing model and also driving the sales pipeline, for e.g. by analysing sales funnel performance by channel and prioritising capital deployment where ROI was highest.
Prior to ChannelSight, I worked as Group Financial Controller for Rocket Internet in Dubai. I was tasked with implementing a process for IFRS consolidation of over 70 legal entities. I took the challenge despite having a non-technical accounting background. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Even though we initially consolidated financial statements using excel, the feedback from corporate was that our reporting process was the quickest and most efficient across the group. It was nice to get such great feedback.
I also remember driving a fundamental change to our European business model in my role as FD at IronPlanet. The change was related to the legality of how we positioned ourselves in the supply chain. Not only did this change have a significant impact on our bottom line and liquidity, it also allowed us to enter new jurisdictions much more easily. One of the highlights for me was when the company was able to transact for the first time in countries like Turkey and Ghana – all on the back of the success of the project.
How do you see CPD as being of value to you in keeping your qualification relevant to the constantly changing business environment?
I feel CPD is critical for accountants and I personally take professional learning very seriously. One element of this is to keep pace with new developments in our profession and with the wider business world, for e.g. digitisation or new IFRS standards. A second element of this is related to growth and learning, be it technical or softer skills. I try to incorporate CPD into my daily routine. I have a long commute into work, and I use this time to learn. For e.g. I’m currently working through two books which are relevant to my current role - one on venture capital financing and the other on corporate finance.
What advice would give to anyone thinking of studying the CIMA qualification?
I would say go for it but remember that, like everything in life worth having, this will require hard work, discipline and commitment. There are times when work/study schedule can become hectic and challenging. How you learn to cope through those times is important. Set a coping strategy that works for you. When you get tired, take a rest but don’t quit! It will all be worthwhile in the end.
What do you see as the biggest challenges currently to the Irish Economy and to your job?
The on-going geopolitical and trade tensions around the world are causing a bit of uncertainty in the economy right now. Some companies are holding back making investments until they see the tension dissipate. However, even with this economic uncertainty, we expect the e-commerce market to show very strong grow over the coming years.
How do you think technology is transforming your job and the market?
I believe the accounting profession is at the brink of an automation revolution, but I see this as a positive thing. More and more companies are automating mundane, repetitive accounting processes, which is freeing up time for accountants to do more value-add analytical work. This requires structures to be put in place to up-skill already-qualified accountants and to change the way students are being trained by professional bodies like CIMA.
Build a career for life with CIMA!
Find out more how CIMA Ireland can help you to get ahead.
Find out more now!