Sazali Mohd Ariffin

Full Name: Sazali Mohd Ariffin

Occupation: Vice President - Finance, Corporate Control

Organisation: A leading FMCG multinational, Indonesia

CIMA Entry Route: CIMA CFO Programme

CIMA Level/Award achieved so far: FCMA, CGMA

Tell us about your current role and what is the most interesting part of your job?

My role involves managing and leading a team of 50 in the area of financial reporting and analysis, treasury and risk management, business planning, cost management, pension accounting, performance measurement, controlling and internal control framework.  My current role not only allows me to create value through co-piloting and supporting the business functions but also enables me to further develop my leadership and networking skills through working with people of different age, ethnic and culture within and outside the organisation.

What was the motivating factor that prompted you to pursue the CIMA CFO Programme? 

As I already have a Bachelor Degree in Accounting and 25 years working experience in financial and management accounting, the CIMA CFO Programme offered me a fast track way to obtain a professional qualification in Management Accounting.

Why did you choose CIMA and not other professional accounting programmes?

In the current VUCA world, I need to further equip myself with the necessary knowledge especially in the area of strategic management, risk management, business planning and performance measurement. A professional qualification like CIMA provides the necessary knowledge and also network for me to keep abreast with the developments in those areas mentioned.

Was the content of the programme useful to you? In what way?

The CIMA programme is indeed very business driven and focuses on all aspects of business skills that are needed in today’s fast changing and complex business world. The programme supports my practical experience to be a strong business leader and enables me to impart the knowledge to my team.

Can you share some tips on how you prepared for the exam? Is there anything in particular that students should look out for when sitting for the CIMA Strategic Case Study exam?

It was a challenge for me to manage my time between study and work especially when I had to face tight office deadlines. Firstly, I set my mind that I want to pass this exam in one sitting. I allocated two hours a day from 5.30am to 7.30am for exam preparation before going to the office. This includes reading on the industry identified for the case study as well as attempting mock exams via an online tuition provider.

The workshops and classes that I attended were indeed a very valuable learning experience. The exam techniques taught during the workshop and the discussions with the lecturer and students who came from different industries helped me to grasp the case study in detail within a short period. The mock exams attempted during the workshop were very helpful.

Please do not spend a lot time of time reading and memorising the theoretical topics, formulae and facts about the industry. Focus on understanding the concept and answer the exam questions based on logic and practicality. Always put your reference to the case study and quote a few industry examples in your answer. Try to attempt as many mock exams as you can so that you familiar with the real exam environment.

Now that you are a CIMA member and a CGMA – what value (or advantages) would it bring to you?

Being a member of CIMA and a CGMA not only reflects the professionalism and experience that I have in the industry but also enables me to connect to a wider network of professionals globally. The CIMA Professional Development (CPD) also enables me to keep abreast with the developments in management accounting, maintain my professional competence, and further develop my skills, capabilities and integrity.

What advice would you give to aspiring students who are keen on building a career as management accountants?

Go for it. The world needs more business leaders not just accountants.

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