The view from the President: A year of forward thinking
'Now is the time to put others first. To see the human element in our business. To do our part to protect others as we rebuild our global economy.'
For the past year, I have been honoured to serve as CIMA president and chair of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. When my tenure began in June 2019, we were halfway through the year of celebrations for CIMA's centenary and well into our third year of operating the Association. For the remainder of the year, I travelled across the globe, meeting with members, students, and business leaders as we celebrated the evolution of our organisation and looked forward to the continued success of our profession.
In early 2020, when I was visiting Sri Lanka, the country where I was born, we began to hear more about the coronavirus, a new and dangerous virus that was beginning to creep across the globe. Since then, we have all witnessed a paradigm shift in the way we do business — everywhere. Car manufacturers shifted from producing cars to building respirators. Clothing manufacturers began making hospital gowns. Offices closed, and employees began working from home while learning to balance home-schooling their children and shopping online for groceries. Restaurants shifted from dine-in to takeout and delivery. Telemedicine and drive-through lab testing grew apace. Online learning platforms became the norm.
What do these business model shifts have in common? Technology has been the foundation of their success.
At CIMA and the Association, we had already made a start on a transformational shift. Although a year ago no one could have foreseen the impact of this global health pandemic, our commitment to reimagining the profession and ourselves provided us with the tools we needed to pivot to this new world order.
We had already begun implementing the technology infrastructure needed, enabling us to continue delivering value to our members and the profession without interruption. Our employees began to work from home, and we accelerated initiatives for learning, resources, and programmes to support our members as they began to help their organisations and clients brave this crisis. We implemented at-home testing for CIMA exams with safeguards against fraud and initiated discussions with governments across the globe to take immediate steps to support small business.
We were able to send on-the-moment updates with new information and resources, and we created free podcasts, checklists, business tools, and online education courses for our members that catered to the fluctuating business landscape.
Our forward-thinking initiatives from 2019 and earlier also proved beneficial. Our Digital Mindset Pack had sprung to life online, and because we partnered with the online education platform Coursera, our Go Beyond Disruption learning series became available to help millions build critical skills in technology and human intelligence. Based on our Future of Finance research, we had written the Re-inventing Finance for a Digital World white paper, updated the digital finance portion of the CIMA Professional Qualification Syllabus, and reworked the CGMA Competency Framework. Now, more than ever, these tools will help students and current professionals learn the vital technology and interpersonal skills needed going forward.
In this moment of major transformation, CIMA and the Association remain dedicated to supporting the management accounting professionals who have again been called upon to find opportunities in a world that is constantly changing.
We have long been the voice of calm in a sea of disruption, helping others assess the damage and make difficult decisions that directly affect employees and their families. Now, COVID-19 has placed our profession on the front lines of economic recovery, advising our organisations and clients on what to do next.
Amid these difficult decisions, our trusted adviser role is paramount. We can interpret data, consider financial recovery options, and forecast outcomes.
The next step, though, is providing trusted advice on how to handle our greatest asset: our people. Now is the time to put others first. To see the human element in our business. To do our part to protect others as we rebuild our global economy.
Our members past and present have always been eager and willing to dive headfirst into new challenges, grow, and help business leaders thrive during periods of tumultuous change. It is my hope that, as an honorary officer, I have fostered a culture that celebrates that legacy while laying a foundation to reimagine the profession for the next wave of disruptions.