As part of IBTC’s dedication to students, current and past, we are thrilled to introduce the “My CIMA Journey”, where CIMA alumni share their insights and learnings with us.
Elizabeth Makuwerere is currently working at CADG Group as Finance Executive, and studying towards an MSc in Strategic Business Management.
Why I chose CIMA
To me CIMA depicts the ‘modern’ financial person who is not only a historic number cruncher, but involved in decision making and strategic support roles within the organisation. A lot of other accounting programmes are more historic than ‘current’. CIMA was a perfect fit for my career aspirations.
When I started and how I approached it?
I started CIMA in January 2013, finished December 2014, qualified as a member in January 2015, finally graduated June 2015. I had exemptions up to the operations level. Because I had 7 papers to do, I decided to take two papers at each sitting. I passed managerial level in 2013, moved onto strategic in May 2014, taking all the 3 papers as that was the requirement by CIMA on first attempt, and passed them all. Then finally passed T4 in November.
Obstacles I faced and how I overcame them
It was a difficult two years of my life. Work and study have never been easy, but I had to develop some discipline in terms of my routine. It became difficult to balance life in general, and this was when some sacrifices had to be made. On some days I felt too tired to study, but I worked out a routine where I had to get one early night during the week in order to regenerate energy for the brain. At times concepts were too tough to understand. I felt so discouraged to even study, at the same time, it seemed time was running out. I panicked. Through this, I learnt to be patient with myself, allowed myself to understand the difficult concepts, taking it one day at time. I would leave the topic, and then get back to it later. It would be easier to understand the second time around. I became very strict about time management.
What worked for me. My study pattern. How I prepared for the exam
Every second began to matter when I realised the importance of starting early in comparison to the last minute rush. Know your study pattern as an individual. I am a night person. I sat down each day after work, for at least 2 to 3 hours. Each day of the weekends, I put in between 5 to 8 hours of study, total of between 10 to 16 hours of study every weekend. I had a strict timetable I followed, to avoid time wasting. Every assignment given I made sure I attempted, every mock exam I attempted regardless of the unpreparedness and the bad marks I attained. But all these were inputs to the final exam. Each semester I made sure the last two months I focused on past exam papers only in order to build up my confidence. One thing every student needs is confidence for the exam, ability to tackle a question no matter how it gets presented in the exam. What I am proud of on this road, is that, I passed all CIMA subjects on my first attempt.
My highest marks were in F2 which I got 70% and P2 where I got 83%. I remember, receiving a call from Evert, who was my P2 lecturer. He wanted to know how I had attained such a high mark, because he wanted to share the ‘secret’ with other students.
How IBTC helped me.
I enrolled with IBTC for lectures. Took weekend classes, which was convenient for me. Study material provided by IBTC was relevant and up to date. I also engaged a mentor along the way, who gave me a lot of support. He is still my mentor to date and is helping me with my Master’s too.
My current job
I am working as a Finance Executive, South African Operations, for CADG Group headquartered in Singapore. I oversee financial operations of 3 subsidiaries within the aviation industry here in SA, owned by the group.
What I hope to achieve with my qualification
I want to be involved in finance strategic support as I move up the ladder with my career. I am currently studying an Msc in Strategic Business Management with Manchester University (UK), completing in September 2016.
My future looks….
With CIMA I am very optimistic about great career opportunities. My future is set as it is a programme that is sought-after by so many employers. I am confident I hold the right programme.
My message to you
Write your own story as a student. Do not make assumptions based on what you hear from other students. Make your own attempts, write your own exam, and then tell your own story. Persistence, consistency, determination, dedication and prayer are essential to making it through any goal in life. You have to put in the hours if you want to make it. Practice makes perfect!
My Advice to new students
CIMA is achievable, if I did it, you can also make it!
Thobela “Thobie” Mblashwa is a Junior Bookkeeper at IBTC, a professional education company specialising in business and finance qualifications. Thobie wasn’t hired as a bookkeeper though, she started part time helping in our dispatch department packing boxes.Read More