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.”
About The Association
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association) is the most influential body of professional accountants, combining the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to power opportunity, trust and prosperity for people, businesses and economies worldwide. It represents 667,000 members and students in public and management accounting and advocates for the public interest and business sustainability on current and emerging issues. With broad reach, rigor and resources, the Association advances the reputation, employability and quality of CPAs, CGMAs and accounting and finance professionals globally.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), founded in 1919, is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants, with members and students operating in 177 countries, working at the heart of business. CIMA members and students work in industry, commerce, and the public sector and not-for-profit organisations. CIMA works closely with employers and sponsors leading-edge research, constantly updating its qualification, professional experience requirements and continuing professional development to ensure it remains the employers’ choice when recruiting financially-trained business leaders.
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