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Find out what CIMA and Mt Kilimanjaro have in common

Book open Reading time: 3 mins

Usman Tariq, a finance graduate talks to us about why you should study the CIMA qualification while working at Sodexo and being part of their Finance Career Pathway Programme.

My career started in September 2012 when I joined Sodexo - an organisation not many people have heard of despite being one of the largest in the world. My first two days involved inductions and introductions to key people in the organisation and learning about Sodexo’s culture, policies and procedures. Following this, I entered into a whole new territory of beginning my first placement in Business Shared Services. I continued my graduate journey by carrying out a six to nine month placement across the business on their three year finance graduate programme.

Why did you decide to study CIMA?

CIMA was suggested to me by many finance experts at Sodexo because of its reputation and relevance to the potential opportunities it would bring me. My roles included internal reporting and analysis and because the CIMA qualification is geared towards management accounting, it was the most desirable option.

How has Sodexo supported you through your CIMA studies? 

Sodexo has been excellent at supporting me through my studies and the exams. Sodexo paid for my tuition and revision classes and they gave me sufficient time off work in order to successfully pass the exams. 

Why did you choose Sodexo?

Sodexo has a strong finance career pathway programme and their accreditation with CIMA was important to me. The best thing about Sodexo is the diversity, size and culture of the organisation - they encourage a culture that supports differences through their diversity and inclusion programme.

Sodexo has great values and no matter which country you are working in, you feel part of one team. Due to the size of the organisation, work experience is varied and it includes a lot of exciting travel. 

Tell us about your current role

As Finance Manager I look after £17 million worth of business with a client in the Oil & Gas industry. The role is diverse and can be operational at times due to the size and complexity of the contract. The main responsibilities I have are to manage the budget and expenditure of our services and report this back to various key stakeholders.

How do you see CIMA contributing to your future career progression?

The key for me is the recognition CIMA gets from potential employers. It's a well known and prestigious qualification which will help members like me stand out from the crowd. It shows employers that I can manage my time effectively and gain significant and important financial knowledge. 

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of studying the CIMA qualification?

Definitely do it. Don’t be put off by the number of exams or time it takes to complete because it flies by. It does take commitment and personal sacrifice, however if you manage your time well, there's no reason why you can't still have a good work life balance.

My main piece of advice would be to plan ahead and stay on top of studying, revision and exam practice.

What’s next for you?

After recently completing the graduate scheme and starting my new role as Finance Manager, I plan to continue in this role for the foreseeable future. My aim is to remain within finance at Sodexo and progress up the career ladder and potentially manage future finance graduates. 

And finally... if CIMA was a holiday destination where would it be and why? 

Mount Kilimanjaro because a lot of effort has to be put into the training beforehand; studying for exams, and then the real hard work kicks in as you start climbing the mountain. As you work your way up to the top you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and once you reach the summit, the sense of achievement is massive. It's something you can be proud of and talk about in the future with friends and family.