James Carton, Consultant and CIMA Candidate, Deloitte
What’s your current role and tell us about your studies with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants?
I work as a consultant with Deloitte. In terms of studying for the CIMA qualification, there are two distinct strands. One is that you need three years of relevant work experience, the second is the professional exams, 12 in all. Most consulting firms support you across your studies, like Deloitte do. Another thing to emphasise is that you don’t have to come from a business background, there are people from science and engineering backgrounds, amongst many others.
In terms of your role as a Consultant, what skills are the most important?
There are three key skills. The first is interpersonal skills, you’re dealing with clients, project teams and many different people on a daily basis. It’s also important that you’re likeable, can build relationships and can get your message across. The second would be an open-minded, problem-solving mindset. Consulting is a very varied profession, and every problem is different and will require different solutions. There is no ‘one size fits all’ range of solutions. You need to be able to look at the facts and come up with a suitable solution. The third is technical skills, such as finance or IT for example, and the different models that you can use from those areas to apply to your consulting role.
In terms of CIMA, how long does it take to become qualified?
About three years, which is the amount of time you need to accrue the necessary working experience, and the exams themselves can run in tandem with this working period.
What advice would you have for students seeking a career in Consultancy?
Technical skills can be acquired through on the job learning and training. In college it’s important to hone your inter-personal skills, develop them through extra-curricular activity for example. It’s also important to start early in your career planning, iof you’re in First Year, find out what the various firms do and what areas they specialise in. Find out the cultures of each company and which would be the best fit for you. This will make you well prepared for the application process, and this shines through to recruiters.
What does the CIMA qualification mean for your career opportunities?
The qualification creates a vast amount of opportunities in terms of the doors it can open. It’s a recognised international qualification, so it opens paths to management at very senior level. It’s a very well regarded qualification. It can also present the opportunity to change your career path, so for example you could use your corporate finance background to work as head of a charity r NGO, which all have the need for managers with strong corporate finance knowledge.