Ask the expert: Education

George Alexandrou, Ph.D., Module Leader for Accountancy and Finance Global MBA, University of London
George Alexandrou, Ph.D.

Power-charge your career

Q How can an MBA help to advance a career in accountancy and finance?

A An accountant or finance professional has specialist knowledge in their field, but if they want to progress higher up the management ladder to the most senior jobs, they will also need a more holistic perspective of the organisation. The MBA is the best qualification to help them develop this broader skillset. It is usually taken as a second academic degree and requires considerable working managerial experience. It helps to refresh and consolidate knowledge and power-charge career progression for individuals aspiring to higher-level managerial jobs.

Q What advantages does an accountancy or finance background bring to MBA students?

A The MBA is a broad degree that develops students’ skills and increases their knowledge in all areas of business. Having the analytical mind and approach of an accountant or finance professional can really help students as they learn how to find solutions to complex, multidimensional problems. To be a successful manager you will have to analyse the complicated problems and scenarios of corporate life, and students who know how to take an analytical approach to problem-solving will be at an advantage.

Q How does the Global MBA programme complement CIMA qualifications?

A If you have an existing CIMA qualification, you can apply for Recognition of Prior Learning, which means you wouldn’t have to take all the modules. However, I would actually advise students that revising and revisiting the knowledge you gained in your CIMA qualification during the MBA is very useful to make sure you understand the most up-to-date applications of that knowledge. We sometimes think we know a topic, but in a complex business environment, things are changing all the time, and it’s always useful to update and sharpen our skills. There’s an old saying that a professor sets the same exam questions every year because the answers change every year!

Q What advice would you give CIMA members who are considering an MBA?

A An MBA should not be a quick fix, and I would advise students not to cut corners. Don’t just try and get through the programme as quickly as possible — take your time and enjoy the learning process. If you don’t think you will enjoy it, don’t do it. You may find it challenging, particularly if you have had a few years away from academic education, but you should make the most of this opportunity to learn. The world is changing and becoming more complex. There are constantly new instruments, new securities, new intermediaries, new methods of doing things. The MBA will allow you to refresh your knowledge and learn new skills to be able to deal with that ever-changing business landscape.

George Alexandrou is an associate professor at the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, University of Kingston. He is also a module leader for the University of London’s Global MBA programme. He is a member of the British Accounting and Finance Association executive committee and co-chair of its South East Area Group.

University of London

The world’s oldest provider of academic awards through distance learning, the University of London challenges and inspires students from around the world. Its Global MBA is the University’s flagship business programme, with four intakes per year.