The current world of fast-paced globalisation features businesses that have expanded beyond borders and span across corners of the world. In this time of rapid economic growth and development, the number of jobs available, especially in the business field, is more than ever. This does not, however, mean that someone with a business degree will find multiple job openings. Competition in the job market is also higher than ever before. To get an edge, obtaining professional degrees is a great option. One such is CIMA, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, which is a globally recognised professional qualification and is the world's most substantial professional body of managerial accountants.
To get valuable insight about this qualification, Md Zarif Tajwar Shihab interviewed Nahian Rahman Rochi, commercial finance manager of British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB). Nahian is a BBA graduate from IBA, University of Dhaka and a CIMA professional.
Question (Q): Why and when did you choose to do CIMA and how did you come to know about it?
Answer (A): A finance manager is always expected to facilitate credible and judicious commercial decision making within any business. For this, one needs to possess a blend of technical soundness, market awareness and appropriate social skills. As a fresh graduate and a new entrant in the corporate world, I started looking for opportunities outside my job that would help me grow my confidence on the core financial capabilities required for a finance manager. I also looked for ways to build my credibility as a finance professional in the market. I chose to pursue CIMA because I found the syllabus and the course materials most relevant to my role. What interested me most about CIMA was that the 'Management Accounting' degree was not only about number crunching- it pushes one to take part in the overall business strategy formulation through devising evidence-based solutions and application of useful business models.
Q: What is CIMA for you and how does it help you in your career?
A: I think CIMA allows someone to see the bigger picture of the business. It is necessarily a management accounting degree, which combines accounting, finance and management principles with the leading edge techniques needed to drive successful companies. I think a management accountant's role includes diverse responsibilities, such as advising managers about the financial implications of projects, formulating business strategies to negotiate a competitive landscape, conducting internal business audits and monitoring corporate spending. The reading materials have helped me understand the details of professional standards and integrity aspects required from a sound finance professional. Most importantly, I think this professional degree makes me market competitive and would give me a definite edge whenever there is a new opportunity.
Q: Can you elaborate the skills you have acquired by completing CIMA education?
A: The three integrated pillars (performance, financial and enterprise) along with the real-life case studies have helped me develop an all-rounded skill set on business finance. The performance pillar teaches the tools and techniques of management accounting and risk management allowing us to understand the inherent costs of a business, construct budgets, make decisions on pricing and capital expenditure and to manage performance. The finance pillar focuses on financial accounting and reporting obligations of the organisation. Hence, it deals with financial statements, accounting standards, fundamentals of taxation and other reporting requirements. Finally, the enterprise pillar deals with strategy formulation and implementation. It emphasises change management, project management, relationship management and overall organisation structures.
The subject matter on each of these pillars is structured sequentially and gets increasingly intriguing as you move up the levels thus allowing progressive development of knowledge. Most interestingly, the CIMA competency framework measures and develops your human resource skills and leadership skills, which is imperative in today's business world.
Q: Please share your journey of acquiring this qualification-- challenges faced, support and resources that were accessible to you.
A: I think the biggest challenge for me as a working individual was to manage time within the regular working schedule. It was challenging to manage time during weekdays and get back into the habit of studying after office every day. The most prominent support I think I had in this respect was from my line manager and colleagues who supported me during my exam days and helped me go through it. I always sought help from my colleagues who have already completed their CIMA. I studied myself, mainly the textbooks and a few online materials, but you can also go for courses taken by various institutions which will guide and support you by providing a fixed routine/ reading plan for you.
Q: CIMA is the most substantial body of management accountant professionals globally; how connected are Bangladesh CIMA professionals?
A: I think CIMA has started to become a very popular choice within the finance community in the last few years, primarily due to its dynamic content as I discussed earlier. The CIMA community here is quite vibrant and connected, and it is increasingly becoming an excellent network for business professionals in case one is looking for any support or resource. The best part is it is still very new and is only expected to grow bigger in the coming days.
Q: What is the total cost for completing the education? Is there any scholarship available for young professionals?
A: Any business graduate can pursue CIMA. Depending on your education background and the courses you have already completed in your undergrad studies, CIMA allows you to have an exemption of certain levels/papers. For example, I got an exemption from five basic papers due to my BBA syllabus covering the core accounting courses. Each professional level would cost roughly around Tk 60,000, which I think is very competitive compared to other available professional degrees.
Q: Does CIMA increase compensation/ salary, benefits, and opportunities in the Bangladesh job market? What are the unique opportunities that open up for CIMA professionals?
A: I think having a CIMA degree will always help you to go into any hiring manager's wish list just because of the right mix of financial expertise alongside business focused knowledge. While the multinational companies (MNCs) and local business houses are increasingly looking for business leaders, having a CIMA will give you an edge in the competitive job market. It is a qualification, which will make your CV very robust and make you a strong candidate in any situation.
Q: How would you recommend others to prepare for this professional education?
A: Start early, plan accordingly and make it an integral part of your overall career development plan. Think of it as an investment, which will give you rewards in achieving your long-term aspirations. Therefore, whichever professional degree you decide to pursue, my recommendation would be to gain maximum out of it. In addition, if you are doing CIMA, I think you can safely say that it is a global passport to all areas of business and it opens doors across the world.
The interviewer is a first year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business
Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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