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Simon MacAllister, FCMA, CGMA

Partner, EY

I found the balance of skills in the CIMA qualification more balanced than the alternative accounting options, and based on my career outlook at the time I thought it would be a more suitable fit for what I was going to be doing.

Simon MacAllister is a Transactions Advisory Partner with EY and is also the Brexit Lead for the island of Ireland. He has worked with EY since 2003 and held roles working with a variety of sectors including technology, aviation, energy and agri. Simon has been a CIMA member for 13 years. 

Why did you choose CIMA as your professional qualification?

I found the balance of skills in the CIMA qualification more balanced than the alternative accounting options, and based on my career outlook at the time I thought it would be a more suitable fit for what I was going to be doing.

How did you balance study with working full time?

It was just a question of making the time and ensuring I committed the right effort to it and to work. I took a taught course on some of the subjects which ran at the weekends so that helped, but was a significant time commitment as well.

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

It was about gaining a variety of analytical skills, to potentially be able to come at a problem from more than one perspective. As I progressed in my career, it became more about the ability to pull those skills up to a level where it’s interpreting and communicating the insights in a clear and concise fashion. 

What does your current role involve?

I lead a team of 35 professionals who provide valuation, modelling and economics expertise to a wide variety of private and public sector clients, across all sectors of the economy. Topically, I am also our Brexit Lead on the island of Ireland and coordinate our response internally and with clients to that challenge.

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

I’m very proud of having grown my team from 2 to 35 and added capabilities to the team I could only have dreamed of only a few years ago. 

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

EY provide a variety of internal courses, for both technical and personal skills development. These are sometimes supplemented by external learning as required, and across these areas they ensure we cover what we need.

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

It provides the discipline (and stick!) to ensure we never stop learning and never rest on our current experiences. At a time of incredible disruption from a market and innovation perspective, it’s more important than ever.

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

The biggest challenge currently is how exposed we will be to a global slowdown. Just as we accelerated out of the recession, propelled by global growth, we’ll just as quickly be impacted as it slows. The issue will be the Exchequer position in terms of current indebtedness is still very serious, and this could restrict the room for government intervention if the economy was to slow dramatically.

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

It’s currently impacting everything we do, from internal innovation to be more efficient, to client facing innovation to help provide new and deeper insight to our clients. There isn’t a part of our business it hasn’t or won’t soon impact.

Has your current role been affected by digitalisation?

Not hugely, as a team we went paperless many years ago, and we use all the tools at our disposal in how we manage digital interactions with clients. One negative aspect is the danger that we see our clients in person on a less regular basis because the technology is now so good that calls and VC are a normal part of the day to day tempo with many of them. 

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

I think it can only be a positive – finance needs to be leading the transformation within business to take advantage of the digital opportunities. These are new skillsets, and we need to be teaching them to the next generation of management accountants, but also ensuring the reskilling is available to existing practitioners. 


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

 Speak to as many members as you can, to understand the path to qualification, but more importantly, to get a sense of the diversity of roles that CIMA members experience and create for themselves. 

Build a career for life with CIMA! 

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Build a career for life with CIMA! 

Find out more how CIMA Ireland can help you to get ahead.

Find out more now!