Unlocking a World of Opportunity with CIMA
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Examination results are out at last, and once again, school leavers are faced with that age-old question; ‘what now?’
After completing thirteen years in school, making a decision on what the next step in life should be can be challenging, especially with so many options and choices out there.
There are also the people who struggled with their examinations due to various reasons and have had to face disappointing results.
Wherever you may come from and whatever the results of your examinations may be, it’s important to understand that opportunity is always available for those who seek it.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is a global professional body offering training and qualification in management accountancy. Those who follow their programme can graduate to become a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), a highly employable qualification that can unlock a world of opportunities, literally.
We had the opportunity to speak with Tharindra and Chathurika Gooneratne, two very talented siblings who have made successful careers thanks to the head start they received with CIMA.
Currently, Tharindra is the Head of Group Corporate Planning and Strategy at Dialog Axiata PLC and Chathurika is a Senior Executive in Compensation and Benefits for MAS Holdings (Pvt) Ltd.
“I started CIMA back in my O/L days. After exams it usually takes a few months for results to come. I had plans to study for my A/L and I knew that CIMA was a qualification that many people pursued in their corporate careers. So my initial thought was to do CIMA part time while I did my A Levels,” said Tharindra
However, it didn’t take long for Tharindra to realise that CIMA could be an equally effective avenue to jump-start both his career and educational qualifications. “I realised that with CIMA, you could use CIMA to get a degree,” he continued. “And even if I didn’t want a degree you could still use it to join the workforce.”
After some careful consideration, Tharindra took a calculated risk by not continuing his A Levels, and “putting all the eggs in one basket,” he focused all his attention on CIMA.
Completing his CIMA qualification, he was immediately recruited by MAS Holdings at the age of 19, working with various stakeholders. He was also a lecturer for CIMA for six years while continuing his career, even pursuing an MBA in the USA and joining the Bank of America and its investment banking platform before returning to Sri Lanka and joining Dialog.
As for Chathurika, who saw the success of her brother’s choice, she decided to also gain an early- advantage by pursuing CIMA after her O Levels. “I was thinking ‘why not?’ whilst my peers were doing local A Levels, I wanted to move further up the ladder.”
Whilst pursuing her CIMA qualification, Chathurika worked part-time with Nielsen to help boost her résumé. Once completing her qualification, she was immediately hired as a finance trainee in a multi-national company, before joining MAS and has completed her MBA at the age of 23.
A great benchmark for employers, a platform for success
Today, many people pursue CIMA and other professional qualifications, to the point that it has become what Tharindra believes is a necessity when entering a job.
“I think it has become a qualification that employers do consider. When employers know you are CIMA qualified, they do give significant weight to that,” he said.
Tharindra believes that is because CIMA is a great benchmark of aptitude. “If it’s your first job, employers have no benchmark to consider the value you can bring to the company besides your A levels or O levels, but if you have this qualification, it brings in an extra level of credibility to yourself.”
CIMA can also be an added advantage to unlock opportunities within your very own workplace, to which Chathurika is a great example. “My boss did a great job negotiating with me, explaining that he needed someone with the capability to analyse numbers. So, my role right now is a mix of both Finance and HR. So, now through CIMA I’ve been able to gain experience not only in finance, but also in HR and broaden my scope.”
Challenging, but rewarding
One thing both Tharindra and Chathurika observe is that employers appreciate the many skills a CIMA qualified individual develops following the programme. “One thing my employers told me is that CIMA is a very forward thinking qualification, especially because of the practical aspect of it. You learn how to think out-of-the-box and that’s what employers want, that analytical, forward thinking mindset.” Chathurika said.
“It’s a very comprehensive syllabus,” Tharindra explained, “It doesn’t corner you in one element, covering various fields and elements, allowing you the freedom to follow any career path you wish, even if you want to make a change down the line.”
We wanted to know if Tharindra and Chathurika believed that following CIMA is possible, even when balancing multiple roles as an individual, an employee and while following other educational pursuits.
“It depends on each person,” Tharindra replied, to which Chathurika agreed. “It will take personal sacrifices, but you can balance it, definitely. Nobody should think it’s an easy route, but if you’re willing to grind through those two-three years, the benefits are immense.”
Both Tharindra and Chathurika agree that choosing to pursue a qualification in CIMA was one of the best decisions they’ve made in their lives, and that CIMA is a qualification that doesn’t limit your opportunities, but only broadens it, unlocking a world of opportunity as vast as your aspirations for the future.