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7 Tips For Speeding Up Your CIMA Professional Career Progress

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You are obtaining a CIMA qualification because you are ambitious and you want to get ahead in life. But at times it may seem that your career progress is in the slow gear. This is only natural, as long as you don’t get too used to life in the slow lane.

Here’s how you can speed up your career progress as a Chartered Management Accounting professional or as a CIMA student. I've decided to split this article in 2 as otherwise it might be too much to consume at once. Today I present the first 3 tips for getting ahead with your professional career, next Monday you can read the remaining 4. 

1. Know where you want to go career-wise, and in life overall.

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Do you like working as a Management Accountant? Do you like working in the financial services sector, in industry and business or in the public sector? Does working your way up in a finance department and all the way to the CFO position appeal to you? Do you see yourself working for mid-sized or large firms; in local businesses or multinationals? Are you keen in pursuing a career in management and leadership path? To become a CEO? Perhaps you want to get some experience and become an entrepreneur starting your own business? 

career word cloudWe know many people who go into CIMA without necessarily aspiring a career in accounting. They are obtaining CIMA qualifications to boost up their primary careers in consulting, management, engineering, IT, architecture and financial and other service industries. They appreciate the value of a dual qualification. A lot of people combine professional qualifications with an undergraduate degree. Many who go into financial analysis and other specialized sectors also pursue CIMA in addition to qualifications like CFA.

But if you want to be forging new paths, try combining CIMA with a career path in manufacturing, research and development, biological sciences, medicine and allied health sciences. These sectors need the expertise a CIMA or CGMA bring to the table, at a strategic level.

Whatever your choice of career path, work out in your mind the milestones in that career path. What would you need to have done in the next one year, two years, five years? How exactly do you plan to get where you want?

Having a firm idea of where you want to go matters, not just in job interviews, and writing cover letters to applications, but also in terms of how you make life decisions.

2. Work on getting the relevant work experience. It does not happen by default!

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Make this a long term project. While you are a student, your job prospects may be limited. But try to obtain the type of experience that can enhance the career path you aspire to.

"When I did CIMA I wanted to go into Management Consulting," says one professional. "But of the big six firms at the time, only three were in my country and they had most of the consulting work. And they did not respond to my applications. So, I ended up in a mid-sized local firm. While I thrived there, I kept looking for opportunities and managed to get into a big six firm the next year. However, later in my career, when the previous firm had consulting opportunities (I was working in my own business) they called me up. So never burn your bridges."

“Whether you work for a small firm or a large one, try to ensure that you get as much experience as possible,” says a CIMA professional who has experience working in small and large firms in two countries. “You don't want to spend two years in a firm and have only a limited scope of experience to show for it". In this sense, smaller firms and mid-sized firms offer you better opportunities in working with a variety of clients and in different types of assignments. They also offer you more leadership opportunities.

Leading six small teams working with six clients over one year can give you a lot of leadership exposure compared to being a member of a large team working for a multinational.

All depends on what you want out of your career. So choose the best options by evaluating them realistically. The type of exposure you would get in any firm is a good question to ask at your interviews.

3. Strive to get international work experience.

internationalIt is not as hard to get as you'd imagine. It all depends on where and how you look.

Financial service firms, telecoms, energy sector operators, commodity firms, manufacturers and retailers are constantly eyeing opportunities in emerging markets, India, Brazil, China and the far eastern economies, Middle East and Africa.

For example, many management accountants from Sri Lanka, a country that was churning out many CIMAs annually second only to the UK at one point in time, found careers in Maldives (resorts), the Middle East (in various industries) and in Malaysia and Indonesia in the oil palm sector. Some of them managed to work their way up to the top in those sectors, with lucrative pay packages and lifestyles they could not have commanded in their home country.

Then there are the firms, accounting, auditing or consultancy, that have clients in smaller nations and regions which are not big enough to sustain full service branches.

Big firms in some countries have secondment programmes that bring in accounting staff from around the world to tide over their busy periods.

Of course, you have to be pretty good to get nominated for this kind of project. This is why points #6 and #7 matter. They help you stand out.

And if you add the CGMA designation to your name, you can basically work anywhere in the world. 


Just to finish off today with a positive accent, I'm sharing a video of the person I look up to, Mr Jack Welch, who was a CEO of GE for 2 decades!


Hope you enjoyed the read. Remember that next week there is Part 2 being released.

Let us what you think in the comments below or on the FB page

Have a great day!

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