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My ACA experience: Umair

After becoming a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan, Umair decided to expand upon his knowledge and add to his skillset by becoming a member of ICAEW. His employer was supportive of him gaining the ACA qualification believing it would add to his role at the company.

Umair Murtaza

Umair Murtaza Group Reporting Manager, AZAQ GROUP

ICAEW route: Training in Pakistan

Industry: Various

Location: Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Umair's story...

I chose the ACA because I believe that chartered accountancy is the pinnacle qualification to achieve in the finance profession.

Chartered accountants are widely respected because they represent a polished professional who has to acquire sound technical competence while undergoing rigorous training and continuous appreciation of ethics.

I became a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan in 2008 having trained with PwC Pakistan. I had always admired ICAEW as it is the world’s most respected chartered accountancy body with more than 145,000 members and having a footprint in over 160 countries.

With a view of adding value to my existing skill set and refreshing my knowledge base I opted for applying to ICAEW membership pathway under the route available to ICAP members towards the end of 2014. Accordingly I took my Advanced Level exams in 2015 and achieved first attempt passes and recently completed my training in ethics and professional scepticism.

Due to working in a diversified conglomerate my working day is seldom dull. I may be reviewing an automotive company monthly performance in the morning, discussing an authority matrix with CEO of a real estate company in the afternoon and getting an understanding about declining consumer spending trends from the Commercial Team in the evening while compiling a consumer goods distribution company report.

Other days also include conducting interviews for middle-tier finance positions across the group and preparing performance measurement plans for senior finance staff members.

My employer was fully supportive of my desire to pursue ICAEW's ACA qualification. They believed that by obtaining the qualification I would also acquire skills and competencies which would better enable me to excel in my current role. I benefitted with an internationally recognised premier qualification and my employer benefitted by having a highly qualified resource in the team.

I was privileged to be mentored by my group CFO during my period as an ICAEW student who is a senior ICAEW member.

Some notable highlights from past and current experiences have included:

  • Leading diligence assignments for strategic merger between international giants in home appliance industry while in PwC.
  • Completing and submitting to the Audit Committee a comprehensive Policy and Procedure Manual for the internal audit function based on best international practices.
  • Introducing monthly management reporting templates across group companies in current employer.
  • Introducing five year rolling financial projections for a diverse conglomerate having multiple businesses across different geographical territories.
  • Partnering closely with investment team for financial and commercial diligence assignments to identify strategic merger opportunities.

I would say people management (including stakeholder management) has been the most challenging and yet the most rewarding element of my career so far. Working with teams from diverse backgrounds and culture provides its share of challenges but also great learning opportunities.  

I like diversity in life and can count myself lucky that my job has a lot of diversity in it. In any one day I would be working with companies across different industries and with both financial and non-financial professionals which provides with a unique set of challenges and opportunities.

My current and previous roles in management reporting have allowed me to build a knowledge base across different industries.

I would believe my report writing skills have definitely improved since enrolling with the ACA due as a result of the ICAEW Case Study exam. 

The ACA is a highly demanding programme which requires continued focus, faith on own ability and perseverance. However, it is certainly achievable and once completed the sense of professional pride makes all the hard work well worth the effort. 

There was a time in my early days in training at PwC Pakistan where I used to think that perhaps I should have opted to go the university rather than directly being at the deep end and working late hours while my friends at university were having a relatively enjoyable time.

But that impression was short-lived and soon the workplace itself became an institution of learning and team mates become both friends and mentors.

In hindsight I strongly feel that I am at par if not better off than fellow ACA trainees and ICAEW members who did go to university. I believe I had a head start into the professional life fairly early which helped shaped me as a better person and professional today.

I would like to end by sharing a quote I came across that I feel is appropriate: “Perseverance commands success.”

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