Suren Fernando, FCMA, CGMA, began his career with the CIMA Professional Qualification and an undergraduate degree in Engineering. Currently, he is the CEO of MAS Intimates (the largest business division within MAS Holdings) and a member of the MAS Holdings Apparel Board. As CEO of MAS Intimates, Suren gives leadership to a workforce of 34,000 in 14 plants in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia; and 4 design and development offices based in New York, London, Hong Kong and Colombo.
Suren says the most interesting aspects of his role are the global positioning of the company that brings in diverse experiences to decision-making, the innovative mind-set that has transformed the apparel manufacturing industry and, most importantly, the privilege of making a difference in the lives of 34,000 people, their families and communities. MAS has been impacting people and communities for three decades and this socio-economic approach is a key part of their identity.
Suren’s CIMA journey began soon after leaving school, whilst he waited to begin his BSc in Engineering at the University of Moratuwa. “CIMA has been a great complement to my engineering degree. At that time, I felt qualifying with CIMA would give me the opportunity to explore diverse career avenues and not be restricted to a purely finance-oriented path. As a young man, I was also inspired by illustrious CIMA members who had moved and progressed through interesting job roles in general management, marketing and sales, even though they started out as accountants,” says Suren.
Additionally, Suren says that CIMA guides professionals to make high-quality operational decisions, attributing this to the development of good financial acumen combined with the breadth of exposure to other subject areas. Explaining further he says, “The real value of CIMA becomes evident as individuals progress in their careers. The knowledge, technical skills and ethics gained through CIMA allows them to play strategic roles within the organisation.”
There are many CGMAs and CIMA professionals employed at MAS Holdings, many of them working in diverse functions. Suren encourages students and professionals who are keen to build careers as management accountants to actively pursue opportunities in a variety of disciplines, rather than limiting themselves to finance roles. Suren’s single most important piece of advice: corporate executives need to develop the capability to adapt to constant change in today’s evolving global marketplace where geographical borders merge. The holistic approach of CIMA gives a thorough understanding of the way universal business is conducted. “Be willing to embrace change. CIMA helps its members to be front-runners in any corporate role, as they have access to the latest thought leadership and research on business trends and needs which enables them to respond adeptly to these transformations.”
With CIMA and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) combining their strengths to form the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association), Suren feels that CGMAs and CIMA students have a fantastic opportunity for enhanced global recognition.