Shahood Alam is the product and implementation manager for corporate cash management at DIB Pakistan. He completed the CIMA diploma in Islamic finance during his four years with HSBC Pakistan.
In this interview, he explains how the qualification has assisted his career.
What is your role?
I have managed the cash management department for the corporate and investment banking division of Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan Limited (DIB) since August 2009. DIB is the first fully fledged commercial Islamic bank in the world.
What attracted you to working in the Islamic finance sector?
Initially, it was driven more by a desire to get away from Riba based employment than a love of Islamic finance. People are often confused by Islamic banking: they generally see it as the same product in another packaging. It has enthralled me to discover that is not the case, and that’s why I took the decision to learn more about it.
Why did you choose the CIMA diploma in Islamic finance?
I decided to enrol in the CIMA Diploma in Islamic finance in order to gain a global perspective and recognition.
'I enrolled in the diploma in Islamic finance to gain a global perspective’
The post graduate degree I possessed was focused around Bahrain’s model and did not touch upon the Malaysian style of Islamic finance. The diploma in Islamic finance provided a global perspective and discussed all schools of thought in reasonable depth.
What challenges did you face before studying Islamic finance?
Being a practicing Muslim, I felt a sense of wrongdoing while working for an organisation having their core business based on riba (interest or usury). I had applied for suitable jobs in almost all Islamic banks present in Pakistan, but in vain. I feel that what I was actually lacking then was a professional qualification. I would like to thank CIMA for providing me with the missing link!
How has the diploma helped you overcome these difficulties?
The diploma has allowed me to demonstrate convincingly to prospective employers and the world at large that I understand Islamic finance from a practical standpoint.
How does the diploma assist you in your career?
The knowledge I gained from studying the certificate particularly helps me with regard to product development. I have an advantage over other colleagues in terms of dealing with the Shari’ah department and proposing out of the box solutions to challenges otherwise treated as impediments.
'The knowledge gained through the diploma particularly helps for product development'
What are the greatest benefits of having an Islamic finance qualification?
An Islamic finance qualification from a leading global professional body provides a win-win situation for employees and employers. The former can present it as a credible third party endorsement, while the latter can use it as a criterion for shortlisting candidates.
This qualification provides a common unbiased ground for prospective employers to judge employees' competency.
What most impressed you about the diploma?
I was stunned by the level of detail present in the first study guide on various Islamic schools of thought and the methods of Islamic jurisprudence. I was also impressed by the organisation of all material for a self studying scheme.
'CIMA's Islamic finance qualification is a win-win for employees and employers'
Did you find it easy to study?
I found the way the study guides are structured made it very convenient. The exercises at the end of each chapter and the mock exam at the end of each study guide really help you prepare for the examination. I passed all four papers on the first attempt (Masha’Allah).
I was able to complete the diploma in only two and half months, as I was not new to Islamic finance. I already had completed a one year post graduate degree in Islamic banking and finance before embarking on the CIMA diploma in Islamic finance journey.