- “The qualification is globally recognised and gives me credibility wherever I go.”
A relationship with the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA) spanning over 10 years has opened doors for Oliver Seldon, from his career beginnings as a management consultant at Andersen Consulting (later renamed Accenture) to his current success as Head of Business Finance and Analysis at First Abu Dhabi Bank.
Seldon found that the CIMA syllabus allowed him to gain stronger business acumen, to complement his impressive background in economics and experience in business strategy. Being part of CIMA and obtaining the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation signifies competence, confidence and reliability, according to Seldon.
“You can just say ‘CIMA’ and everyone around the world knows what it means,” he says. In fact, Seldon credits CIMA for allowing him to undertake a wide variety of roles in his career allowing him to transition from strategy jobs to CFO roles, where he was trusted to take on the financial side in more depth. “The CGMA designation provides professional credibility,” he adds.
Following Accenture, Seldon worked for Barclays Wealth in London, before moving to the Middle East. Today, he is Senior VP at First Abu Dhabi Bank. One of his career highlights there was playing a leading role and managing the financial due diligence for the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) in the USD28 billion merger with First Gulf Bank last year. In all these senior roles, Seldon still uses the skills he acquired through CIMA every day.
“The CIMA syllabus and skills are really, really good, and remain relevant regardless of industry,” Oliver says. He also found them broad enough to help in all business areas, such as risk management and strategy, and not just finance. “It has allowed me to integrate strategy development, business planning and analysis, and business case formulation when I have done transformation work.”
A bright future awaits those considering the profession, as Seldon is confident that the demand for management accountants will remain very high, with technology as an enabler. “As data and software improves, you need people who can interpret and use data for business, rather than simply produce numbers and reports,” Seldon opines.
As someone who is clearly at the top of his field, the advice Seldon can offer to aspiring management accountants is invaluable. He stresses the importance of being patient and building a strong foundation first. To succeed, young accountants should look to use their main skill set to leverage into other parts of the business. “So you need to build a broader business understanding outside of just Finance,” Seldon concludes. As such, the relevance of the CIMA syllabus is clear as it provides enduring and transferable skills and knowledge, while keeping current with real-world business concerns.
A particularly essential factor to a successful career is the ability to manage yourself, and learn to relax and have fun even when busy and challenged. Seldon believes this is a skill that can be acquired and laments that it is not more commonly focused on in most corporate environments. “It is actually a leadership skill, and it’s not done enough,” he declares.
“Making work more interesting and more fun, it’s a really important skill to develop,” Seldon elaborates. How you respond to challenges and stress in order to find satisfaction and enjoyment in your work makes all the difference. “It’s a way to see opportunities rather than problems,” he says.
Seeking out mentors who can encourage and give perspective is one key method that Seldon recommends. “When you’re young, you can get lost and cannot see the bigger picture. The world is your immediate task,” he recalls. Mentors can help you understand yourself better, and self-awareness is a vital ingredient for success.
When contemplating his future, Seldon believes that he will ultimately venture into starting his own business, and that this would likely be in the tech industry. “Of course, it’s a risk,” he says. But secure in his broad-based skills and ability to stay current, Seldon is buoyant. “CIMA has provided me with the business and financial acumen to make confident decisions.”Email This Post