Koos has a Bcom Honours in Management Accountancy and became a CIMA Ireland member in 2021. Take a look at his Q&A:
Tell us a bit about your role?
My role spans from optimizing Accounts Payable processes, to being outsourced to companies to run their Financial close processes; designing future state Finance operating models and implementing ERP systems for a client. Everything wonderful and finance!
What has been your biggest career achievement to date?
I would say landing a job at EY. Coming from a small boutique consultancy company working only in the Gold Mining Industry, the road to becoming an EY employee was tough but all worth the while.
Why did you choose CIMA as your professional qualification?
To be honest I think it was more by default than design. I started with Commercial law in my first year and quickly found the law part was not in my stars. I did however, enjoy the accounting and economics. In my third year I switched from Marketing to Management Accountancy and loved the breath and variety the course brought to the table. I get bored easily and this was no boring course. Naturally the next steps were to pursue CIMA but the Mining industry was waiting, so I pushed pause… It wasn’t until 6 months into my role at EY that I realized I needed CIMA. Not only for progressing within my company but to understand business better – from all aspects.
What skills have you gained through studying CIMA and how have they contributed to your role?
As I mentioned above, I think one of the main skills was to see business in its entirety. It isn’t just made up of a Finance or Marketing function. And although the Fixed Asset team sits in a corner somewhere where everyone forgets about them, they are just as integral as the CFO when attempting a big change program or systems implementation. You would only know that, by combining skills from each of the CIMA Pillars. Almost like baking a cake – a little Change Management from E3, a little Investment Valuation Analysis from F3 and some Cybersecurity from P3, as the icing on the cake.
How has CIMA membership and the CGMA designation contributed to your professional career?
CIMA has given me a platform to not only negotiate from, but to pivot into my next career objective. It has empowered me to have promotion discussions – showing that I am willing to learn more whilst doing my day job. Given me a newfound network of professionals willing to support and promote me! (I am part of the cool club now!)
How is your company providing support for you to fulfil your CIMA Professional Development (CPD) requirements?
Badges, Badges and more Badges. A badge can be obtained by doing x hours of training towards a specific topic like RPA or Inclusive Leadership. We recently revamped our whole badges program and EY went so far as to create a Tech MBA, that when you ticked all the boxes you can apply (for free) and be awarded a Tech MBA from HULT International Business School. That said, I compared the type of learning I can do on CIMA’s learning portal to EY’s Internal Badges program, and was very happy to see a good amount of similarities like Blockchain, AI and Advanced Excel skills.
How do you see CPD as being of value to you in keeping your qualification relevant to the constantly changing business environment?
I think the proof is in the pudding. Taking nothing away from the hard work it took to pass the Strategic level exams – I believe that was just the foundation. Each of us moves into a different direction and as such, might be doing more Competitor analysis type work or may be designing business models on a daily basis. While CIMA equips you to understand why you are doing those models or what category of competitors to look out for, it is up to you to expand and build on those skills by any, and all, means necessary. We need to stay relevant and the only way to do that, is to keep on learning and changing!
How did you balance work and study?
This was no easy feat. As I mentioned above, I pushed pause on my CIMA qualification for almost 4 years. Getting back into it was hard work. I think the most important thing I did was to not surrender the initiative. What I mean by that is, I made sure the people around me knew what my goal was for the next few weeks/months – pass all my CIMA exams. Consulting by nature requires pretty “flexible” working hours and as such, I needed to let my project leader know that I would only be able to work until a certain time of the day, and then have a set time for studies during the evening. I appreciate that at times the project required a few extra hours, but at least I already had the discussion with my wife, that the weekend will be for studying and not for binge watching Netflix. Look, a good few weekends were not used for studies and I paid the price once or twice, when the results were released. That said, manage expectations (yours and the people closest to you), have clear goals and break it into smaller pieces!
What advice would give to anyone thinking of studying the CIMA qualification?
Never too late to start now. CIMA has a super support system and the remote examinations gives you the opportunity to write in the comfort of your own home – so no excuses.
Do people have any misconceptions about your role and your profession in general?
Not really… In SA we have mainly CA, SAIPA and CIMA. The biggest misconception usually, is that we are all auditors and always gives me a smile when I explain the differences and someone goes “oh wow, so you can do X and Y as well?”
Can you tell us (in one sentence) the value the CIMA qualification has added to your career?
As I eluded to above - CIMA gave me the foundation to launch my career from. And the best part is, this can be in virtually any direction I want because of the wide array of skills I gained whilst doing my qualification.
Master finance on your terms.
Discover the new digital-first pathway to the CIMA Qualification: the CGMA Finance Leadership Program (FLP).
- Online learning program, intuitive interface, mobile-friendly.
- Exact same syllabus as the Professional qualification.
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