Full Name: Jagan Arumugam
Occupation: Assistant Director, Integrity Unit
Organisation: Public Services Department, Malaysia
CIMA Entry Route: Masters Gateway
CIMA Level/Award achieved so far:
Jagan Arumugam is currently the Assistant Director in the Integrity Unit of the Office of Director General of Public Service, Public Services Department of Malaysia. In his role, he is responsible for the ethics, governance, internal control system, risk management, reward and disciplinary actions, and value for money audits in the Public Services Department. His role also involves acting on information provided by whistleblowers and monitoring enforcement activities. He said the most interesting part of his job is his ability to apply the knowledge gained from the CIMA qualification. He is proud to create value by sharing his ideas on risk management, internal control, and ethics and governance issues.
Why did you choose to study CIMA after getting your Masters qualification?
It was my ambition to pursue further studies in the field of accountancy to complement my business knowledge and Masters qualification. I came across the CIMA professional qualification that really suits my needs and expectations. Most accounting qualifications train people for private practice, working on external audit and tax issues. However the CIMA qualification prepares people for a career in business. It teaches skills for providing strategic advice, managing risk, financial strategy, management accounting, costing and budgeting, and making key decisions for the organisation. CIMA creates “Accountants for Business” who create value for business. It really inspired me because rather than be a number crunching accountant, I prefer to be a forward looking and strategic accountant so that I can contribute value to my organisation..
What do you think sets CIMA apart from other professional accounting qualifications?
CIMA is the world’s largest professional body of management accountants, offering the most relevant accounting qualification for a career in business. There is more to management accounting than one might think because it includes and adds value to financial accounting. The syllabus is designed to deliver a strong understanding of all aspects of business so that CIMA accountants can contribute in many areas in an organisation.
Besides, when you become a CIMA member, you will join the world’s largest professional body of management accountants and you will able to use the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation and be part of a truly global network.
Was the Gateway exam difficult for you, as a Masters degree holder?
Even though I have an MBA in Finance, I did not take it for granted when sitting for the CIMA Gateway exam. Having an MBA is just additional knowledge that you can use for a better understanding of the CIMA syllabus (E2, P2, and F2). From my experience, if you fully cover and understand the whole syllabus at the Management level and do more practice questions, the Gateway exam will not be difficult to pass.
You were a CIMA prize winner for the Gateway exam in 2015. What is your winning formula?
My advantages are my strong willpower, confidence, never-give-up attitude, discipline and good time management. I always motivate myself by saying that “If I have no time, then I should make time”, and it works for me.
Plan your study three months ahead and stick to the planned strategy. Consistently do revision and most importantly, do not memorise concepts or spot questions. You must understand the theory and apply it during the Management Case Study exam. Cover the whole syllabus, do as many practice questions as possible and have a positive mindset. This is my winning formula.
You passed the E3 and F3 exams at one go. What tips can you share with other students who will be sitting for these two exams?
Passing the CIMA objective tests is not as difficult as perceived. My tips for E3 and F3 are as follows:
1. Book the exam ahead before you start your study In everything we do, we should start by setting a target date first. Do not be in a comfort zone i.e. feel fully confident first and then book the exam date. This is because, as a student, we will never be fully satisfied with our preparation. Thus it will just prolong your journey in passing the exam. My strategy is to book the exam date at least 2-3 months in advance, followed by the strategic planning.
2. Plan your study schedule and stick into it.
Preparing a schedule will make you confident of covering the whole syllabus without any rush or last minute preparation. I prepared a Gantt chart which included my study duration, revisions, practices and final lap quick revision. Having a study schedule will make you disciplined and consistent in your studies.
3. Minimum hours per week.
In your study plan, it is advisable to set a minimum number of hours to spend each week (without compromising your career, family, friends and personal life). I spend three hours a day during weekdays and five hours a day during weekends. In total I spend 25 hours per week studying.
What was the challenge you faced in the P3 exam? What steps did you take to overcome your failure at the first attempt?
The P3 exam (Risk Management) is not as difficult compared to F3 (Financial Strategy). Basically P3 is trickier, especially with SATA (Select All That Apply) questions. I did not face any challenges during my first attempt - it was just that my luck was not there and my success was postponed.
Once I knew that I have failed the P3 exam, I motivated myself by saying that it’s normal to be unsuccessful in professional exams. The most important thing is to have the courage to re-sit the P3 exam as soon as possible (i.e. in a week’s time). This is because my knowledge and understanding about the subject was still fresh in my mind. I reviewed my performance and was able to evaluate my weakest point from the cimaglobal exam history. With this evaluation, I studied my weakest syllabus component thoroughly, re-sat the exam and finally I passed P3.
Which CIMA exam resources did you find most useful?
KAPLAN Official Study Text, Exam Practice Kit and Revision Cards.
What other encouragement would you give to CIMA students?
Rule 1: Don’t give up
Rule 2: Ignore other rules
If the result shows that you have scored below the passing mark, just motivate yourself by saying: “I’m not a failure but I am near to the pass mark” or “My success has just been postponed.” Identify the mistakes, improve your weak areas, do your revision and finally re-sit the paper within one or two weeks and you will surely pass. Frankly, I was glad that my failure in P3 gave me an opportunity to learn more and understand the subject even better. Remember that one day you will be an ACMA, CGMA. It’s just a matter of time. So don’t quit. A true winner never quits. You decide your journey. Success is in your hands so strive to achieve it.
For those who are sitting for the objective tests, here is my humble advice:
1. Read the CIMA official study text (Kaplan) and do mind mapping so that it is easier for you to refer to the theories without using the book.
2. Practise objective questions (Kaplan exam practice kits and mock exams). It is really helpful to understand the different types of questions and make you feel more confident in the real exam.
3. Flag for review long questions, tough questions and also the vague questions which you are unsure of. Do the easy questions first as there are some questions that can be answered within 20 seconds. In this way, you can save time for the tougher questions later.
4. Avoid naysayers. There are some people who show their negativity towards the new assessment. What I can advise is that, if you are well prepared as in No. 1 and No.2 and strategically answer the questions as in No.3, you will PASS. Good luck!