Kiruthiga Raguraman ACMA, CGMA, finance manager at Centrica Plc, has been a CIMA member for one year. She describes how gaining the qualification has assisted her flourishing career.
Why did you choose CIMA as your financial qualification, and how did you hear about it?
I was already a Cost and Works Accountant from India when I was deputed to Australia. While there, I started attending some network events for accountants and realised how beneficial it is to complete an internationally recognised qualification.
There were many choices available to me – CPA, CFA, etc – but my interests were always in commercial finance and I wanted to study a qualification that would equip me to move from the tactical finance world I was in to strategic finance. CIMA was the obvious choice as it was a qualification that would help me leverage my accounting knowledge and prepare me for a successful career in the corporate world.
How did getting your CIMA qualification make you feel?
The first and foremost feeling on getting the qualification was a sense of achievement. However, what was more important to me was the way pursuing CIMA transformed me as a professional: instead of being a number-crunching accountant, CIMA expanded my outlook and taught me the importance of being able to understand the bigger business picture. This combined finance and business knowledge brought me a great sense of confidence, which prepared me for stepping into leadership roles.
What skills have you gained or developed through studying CIMA?
In my view, the most important skills one requires in a corporate world are time management and prioritisation. While all exams help you in developing your time management skill, my personal favourite is TOPCIMA. It mirrors the real world that we face on a day-to-day basis, by throwing surprises on the exam day and testing your ability to identify, prioritise and analyse issues and make sensible and feasible recommendations – all within strict timelines.
In order to complete all of these, one needs to be extremely organised, have a clear thought process and relate the multifarious issues – all of which are so very relevant in our work life as we go up the corporate ladder.
What are the principal ways you have helped add value to your present company?
I would pick out three main achievements:
- streamlining the monthly reporting pack and transforming the review process from a post-mortem of operations to a forward-looking value adding exercise
- driving specific cost-saving initiatives, which resulted in margin improvements despite price reduction and stiff competition
- streamlining and establishing an accounts-receivable process that helped in reducing the ‘day’s sales outstanding’ by 25%.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Many times, non-finance team members with whom I interact have said, ‘for a change, you understand the operational perspective despite being a finance person.’ That, to me, is the most rewarding aspect of my job – to be able to understand the views of non-finance teams and use that understanding to support decision-making rather than just churn out reports, charts and tables out of numbers.
How has CIMA membership helped you professionally?
It has given me access to a larger community of CIMA members who are quite willing to help each other, as well as to resources like Harvard articles which would otherwise cost me a fortune. Most importantly, it has earned me respect from my peers and other colleagues.
How do you think your family and friends have benefited from you having a CIMA qualification?
A professionally qualified person is an asset to any family and my family is no exception. My family has witnessed the benefits of CIMA qualification through me and I now have a cousin who is pursuing CIMA as well. While it is true that she did not choose CIMA exclusively because of me, it is also true that the career progression that CIMA gave me was an important factor in her choosing the qualification.
How do you see CPD as being of value to you in keeping your qualification relevant to the constantly changing business environment?