The view from the President: An enabler of success

CIMA President Amal Ratnayake, FCMA, CGMA

‘Members are our most important ambassadors, and we need to ensure we fully … engage with them at each stage of their careers.’

CIMA has always been about enabling its members to succeed — both personally and in leading their businesses to success.

I intend my year as president to be defined by that simple and important purpose.

In many ways my career illustrates how the CIMA professional qualification and the CGMA designation are passports to great and diverse careers. Throughout my career I have learned to value a range of views and opinions, being open and transparent, and achieving a consensus having fully weighed the arguments.

My journey has taken me from Sri Lanka, where I qualified in 1993, to the UK to gain an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, and from there to Saudi Arabia and then to Canada, where I've settled with my wife and family.

As well as being geographically diverse, my career has encompassed a range of sectors.

From early on I wanted to work in industry, and the CIMA route offered a way to do that. My first job in Sri Lanka was, however, with a public accounting firm, which provided invaluable exposure to global companies, many industries, and different accounting systems. I also gained insight into the diverse leadership styles within our client businesses.

Three years at an established trading and export house followed by three years at one of Sri Lanka's largest clothing manufacturers were the next stops in my career journey. In Saudi Arabia at the Alesayi Group I worked with its business units to develop their strategic business plans and raise funding.

In Canada, my career switched again — to a telecoms company and then to a media business that makes TV programmes. I now work in media entertainment, developing musicians' online and social brands — the area where music, media, and technology intersect. Again, it's about diversity. We have worked with very well-established global musicians such as Celine Dion, Elton John, and Mark Knopfler, but also with less well-known artists such as the Canadian bands Great Big Sea and Blue Rodeo.

It's a great privilege to be CIMA president in this centenary year, and also chair of the Association board. I have been on CIMA's Council since 2013 and have served on a number of its committees, but I started my volunteer life very early on with the CIMA Students' Society in Sri Lanka. Its aim was to provide networking opportunities in a relaxed and fun environment. When I became qualified, I joined CIMA Sri Lanka's education and training committee at a time when I was also lecturing for a tuition provider.

Moving to Toronto reignited my interest in volunteer work for our Institute — I joined the CIMA Canada board in 2004 and eventually became its chair. I was very involved with launching a mentoring programme that helps members and students moving to Canada navigate the sometimes difficult process of finding employment.

Members are our most important ambassadors, and we need to ensure we fully support and engage with them at each stage of their careers. But we also need our members to help students advance through the very early stages of their management accountancy journey. An important question for our Institute is therefore, "How can we encourage and help them do that more effectively?"

I would like to leave you with a quote from the soldier and founder of the Boy Scout and Girl Guide movements, Lord Robert Baden-Powell: "Look wide, beyond your immediate surroundings and limits, and you see things in their right proportion. Look above the level of things around you and see a higher aim and possibility to your work."

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