BE A SUCCESSFUL MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANT & BUSINESS LEADER VIA CIMA
“It felt like a mini-MBA programme; it allows me to better navigate across the entire business spectrum from operational to strategic management.”
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 13th August 2018: Support from the family and success in the inaugural The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants ® (CIMA) Corporate Business Leaders Challenge (CBLC) is vital for successful participant Meka Nwabuko. “It’s not just hard work for the individual to balance needs, but hard for their families,” Meka says. “It’s very important to know why you do anything that takes away from family, as a rationale to make time for it. It’s vital for people closest to you to understand why too, and when they do, the support then becomes very powerful. They will hold up the mirror to you when you lose steam.”
Determined to gain CIMA membership and attain The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants ® (CGMA) designation by 2018 despite the busy schedule, Meka says “Achieving and maintaining a CIMA professional qualification equips me with professional and leadership skills to better navigate the complex and changing business environment,”.
Meka being in his early 30s, was already a mid-career Finance Manager with Shell when he applied and next step was to validate the understanding and to close any gaps to be a well-rounded management accountant and business leader. After the review process, he was accepted onto the pilot programme of CBLC. CIMA’s rigorous screening procedure was vindicated when he won the finals of the challenge with his colleague team partner.
The final challenge consisted of evaluating a business scenario for a fictional company, then presenting on the potential impacts while providing advice as finance managers. Finalist teams were also assigned coaches to support them in the last preparation stages. These senior finance executives helped the teams to build on their strengths from the initial round while also pointing out any development areas which needed work. This element was found to be a very unique opportunity to deepen the skills learnt, enhance communication and hone stakeholder management techniques according to Meka.
Finally, each team’s presentation was made before an independent panel of judges, all leaders in the business world, who acted as the “Board of Directors” to give the challenge a “real-life” feel. “Winning the final challenge was a great achievement for me, especially with the quality of the competition and the interaction. I was very impressed by all the presentations from the teams. It must have been a tough choice for the judges!” says a beaming Meka.
The key strength brought to their presentation was an exposure to different cultures, their diverse personal and professional backgrounds, as well as wide experiences in the softer aspects of the task beyond just technical expertise. “My educational background is very technical, but my work has allowed me to go beyond the numbers to understand the business value drivers and how things can be improved or done differently to achieve better results,” he says.
Meka’s educational qualifications belies a passion for finance and the commercial aspects of a business, which started early in his childhood. Growing up in Nigeria, Meka was continually exposed to an entrepreneurial mindset through family members and the general social environment. “I saw it in action all around me,” Meka says, painting a picture of an active commercial culture. “They may not have the technical words, but it was what they were doing all the time.”
Because of the wider finance and business management spectrum that the CIMA programme offered the ambitious Meka, he adds, “It allows me to better navigate across the entire business spectrum from operational to strategic management. It also challenges me to consider business issues from various lenses including Financial, HR, Organisational and Legal. The topics I found were really current. There was a lot of theory in the CIMA syllabus but when it came to the case study exams, one could really apply that to the real business environment. Overall, the programme gave a lot more confidence in my capabilities, as a business leader as well as in my technical finance skills.”
Further inspired from their challenge victory, Meka and his team partner hunkered down to study for the CIMA management case study exam – passing on the first try, despite it being held just a week after the birth of his daughter! This result meant the continuation on to the Global C-Suite Business & Finance Programme, and take the final step toward the pinnacle of the CIMA qualification by sitting for the Strategic Case Study exam. Having passed this too, the membership into CIMA and the prestigious CGMA designation is now in line. “The focus on ethics, sustainability and professionalism was additionally a key motivation for me to aspire for a CIMA membership,” he adds. Fresh from completing the highest level CIMA programme, Meka is off on his next challenge; a new position responsible for Governance, Risk and Assurance for parts of Shell’s upstream business, a global role based in The Hague, Netherlands. “This course had an influence on what kinds of role I should go for next,” Meka clarifies. “CIMA’s focus on sustainable governance and ethics is attractive to me. I want to be more commercially focused but when this opportunity came up, it’s very logical, after CIMA, to be able to look at governance and risk management in the organisation.”
Preparing to start his new role, he is excited about future learning opportunities that will surely continue to come his way including staying current through CIMA. “The function of management accounts will continue to evolve driven by technology advancement/integration, rapid changes in society’s demands, and expectations as well as changes in the global business/macro environment,’’ Meka says. “It is therefore important to adopt and sustain a continuous learning mindset,” he concludes.