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Success Stories

Here you will find our monthly Wall of Fame, a listing of students who have successfully passed a CIMA exam and our Feature Stories where students and members reveal why they choose to study CIMA, how they completed the exams and the many advantages it has brought them in forging their careers.

Wall of Fame

Every month we like to congratulate students in the GCC region for successfully passing one or more CIMA exams, see who made the Wall of Fame here!

Meka Nwabuko: Corporate Business Leaders Challenge Success Story


“It felt like a mini-MBA programme; it allows me to better navigate across the entire business spectrum from operational to strategic management.”

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 13th August 2018: Support from the family and success in the inaugural The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants ® (CIMA) Corporate Business Leaders Challenge (CBLC) is vital for successful participant Meka Nwabuko. “It’s not just hard work for the individual to balance needs, but hard for their families,” Meka says. “It’s very important to know why you do anything that takes away from family, as a rationale to make time for it. It’s vital for people closest to you to understand why too, and when they do, the support then becomes very powerful. They will hold up the mirror to you when you lose steam.”

Determined to gain CIMA membership and attain The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants ® (CGMA) designation by 2018 despite the busy schedule, Meka says “Achieving and maintaining a CIMA professional qualification equips me with professional and leadership skills to better navigate the complex and changing business environment,”. 

Meka being in his early 30s, was already a mid-career Finance Manager with Shell when he applied and next step was to validate the understanding and to close any gaps to be a well-rounded management accountant and business leader. After the review process, he was accepted onto the pilot programme of CBLC. CIMA’s rigorous screening procedure was vindicated when he won the finals of the challenge with his colleague team partner. 

The final challenge consisted of evaluating a business scenario for a fictional company, then presenting on the potential impacts while providing advice as finance managers. Finalist teams were also assigned coaches to support them in the last preparation stages. These senior finance executives helped the teams to build on their strengths from the initial round while also pointing out any development areas which needed work. This element was found to be a very unique opportunity to deepen the skills learnt, enhance communication and hone stakeholder management techniques according to Meka. 

Finally, each team’s presentation was made before an independent panel of judges, all leaders in the business world, who acted as the “Board of Directors” to give the challenge a “real-life” feel. “Winning the final challenge was a great achievement for me, especially with the quality of the competition and the interaction. I was very impressed by all the presentations from the teams. It must have been a tough choice for the judges!” says a beaming Meka.  

The key strength brought to their presentation was an exposure to different cultures, their diverse personal and professional backgrounds, as well as wide experiences in the softer aspects of the task beyond just technical expertise. “My educational background is very technical, but my work has allowed me to go beyond the numbers to understand the business value drivers and how things can be improved or done differently to achieve better results,” he says. 

Meka’s educational qualifications belies a passion for finance and the commercial aspects of a business, which started early in his childhood. Growing up in Nigeria, Meka was continually exposed to an entrepreneurial mindset through family members and the general social environment. “I saw it in action all around me,” Meka says, painting a picture of an active commercial culture. “They may not have the technical words, but it was what they were doing all the time.”

Because of the wider finance and business management spectrum that the CIMA programme offered the ambitious Meka, he adds, “It allows me to better navigate across the entire business spectrum from operational to strategic management. It also challenges me to consider business issues from various lenses including Financial, HR, Organisational and Legal. The topics I found were really current. There was a lot of theory in the CIMA syllabus but when it came to the case study exams, one could really apply that to the real business environment. Overall, the programme gave a lot more confidence in my capabilities, as a business leader as well as in my technical finance skills.” 

Further inspired from their challenge victory, Meka and his team partner hunkered down to study for the CIMA management case study exam – passing on the first try, despite it being held just a week after the birth of his daughter! This result meant the continuation on to the Global C-Suite Business & Finance Programme, and take the final step toward the pinnacle of the CIMA qualification by sitting for the Strategic Case Study exam. Having passed this too, the membership into CIMA and the prestigious CGMA designation is now in line. “The focus on ethics, sustainability and professionalism was additionally a key motivation for me to aspire for a CIMA membership,” he adds.  Fresh from completing the highest level CIMA programme, Meka is off on his next challenge; a new position responsible for Governance, Risk and Assurance for parts of Shell’s upstream business, a global role based in The Hague, Netherlands. “This course had an influence on what kinds of role I should go for next,” Meka clarifies. “CIMA’s focus on sustainable governance and ethics is attractive to me. I want to be more commercially focused but when this opportunity came up, it’s very logical, after CIMA, to be able to look at governance and risk management in the organisation.”

Preparing to start his new role, he is excited about future learning opportunities that will surely continue to come his way including staying current through CIMA. “The function of management accounts will continue to evolve driven by technology advancement/integration, rapid changes in society’s demands, and expectations as well as changes in the global business/macro environment,’’ Meka says.  “It is therefore important to adopt and sustain a continuous learning mindset,” he concludes. 

Muhammad Fouad Abid: Corporate Business Leaders Challenge Success Story

“It was a high-impact learning experience, which not only led to professional enrichment but delivered a complete professional development package”

The benefits of an international upbringing laid the foundation for Fouad’s career path of going beyond the obvious answers. Today, Fouad is based in the UAE where he works for an international energy conglomerate, overseeing financial affairs for two separate legal entities, Project Company and the O&M business for an Integrated Water and Power Project (IWPP) which generates 2,250 MW of electricity and 150 million gallons of water per day. 

From his early days at Ernst & Young in Islamabad, Fouad has never been daunted by the prospect of straying from the conventional path expected of an accountant. In fact, he often went in search of complementary professional challenges. His diverse professional experience has gone beyond corporate finance to include responsibilities in business planning, treasury, risk & contract management, project finance, business development and strategy. He has even had stints in HR, internal audit, insurance and providing support for project agreements and legal documents. “Working in different functions of a company helped me to understand the business more holistically, and transformed my career,” Fouad explains. “This gave me a definite edge compared to others in my field”.

The ability to stretch yourself and look past the obvious was exactly what Fouad found particularly valuable in CIMA’s Corporate Business Leaders Challenge. The programme offered him the opportunity to go beyond the narrow confines of the technical aspects of management accounting in order to gain a more global understanding. “The challenges were captivating,” Fouad enthuses. “They provided the impetus to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions”.
Fouad explains that a finance professional’s role should be business-centred in order to be perceived beyond just a -support service. “The image associated with our profession is not of a business driver. It has been generally overlooked how management accountants can truly be harnessed as strong business partners,” he shares. “I have always looked for ways to identify and deeply analyse the linkages between business drivers and the financial results to demonstrate how management accountants can help control the business beyond conventional reporting”. 

The Corporate Business Leaders Challenge immensely focused on this crucial objective that has long propelled Fouad’s career. The programme was able to refine business skills of the participants by pushing them to analyse challenging business scenarios and put up practical solutions to demonstrate how management accountants can help -top management drive business performance. Through the programme, as Fouad puts it, “You could see how to deliver value to the stakeholders by producing actionable takeaways from high quality analyses”.

The 4-week course provided a comprehensive professional development opportunity alongside gaining an internationally-recognised qualification. “It made everyone more business-oriented, to push forward beyond conventional approaches on problem-solving. It was about how you should act, not just report, to enhance stakeholders’ value” Fouad clarifies. “I don’t see any other institute providing such a business skills development opportunity”.

Fouad was also particularly happy with the high quality of the programme delivery mechanism, a key aspect of which was the Business Challenge itself whereby presentations were made to a simulated Board of Directors whereas the Directors were actually industry leaders with extensive experience, who served as judges to the Leadership Challenge and provided great feedback to the participants. “The depth of the programme was proven when I had to take the exam,” he discloses. “I had a particularly busy period at work and was not able to revise as much as I would have liked. However, because of how in-depth the challenges had been, I was able to pass the exam on my first try, while ending up as one of the runners-up to the Challenge was a pleasure to cherish anyway!” Fouad proudly exclaims. 

Passing the CGMA Business Leaders Challenge on the first attempt meant that Fouad could move on to the Global C-Suite Business & Finance Programme, and take the final exam on the CIMA qualification – the Strategic Case Study exam. Excelling at this level too in first attempt, Fouad is now awaiting his hard-earned CGMA designation and membership into CIMA.  To sum up, the world is currently facing many disruptions to business as usual. Although it makes for exciting times, it does mean every professional has to remain flexible and ready for change.  “There is a need for accountants to adapt to such dynamic environments. It is imperative to not only be technically sound but also deepen your overall business understanding so that you are not redundant in the face of new technology, machines and AI,” Fouad cautions. And this is where a programme like CIMA’s Corporate Business Leaders Challenge can transform any management accountant into a dynamic business partner crucial to any sector of the global economy. 

Muhammad Fouad Abid
Financial Controller, ENGIE (Arabian Power Company)

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