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Study Zone

CIMA students: work, rest and play…

Meet two CIMA students who have managed to achieve that all-too-elusive work-life balance

January 2017

Sleepless nights or blissful dreams, solitude or time to party? While studying for your CIMA qualification cannot be compared to life at uni it doesn’t mean that you have to lock yourself away until you passed all the exams.
Two CIMA students – Richard Wood (27), who works as a consultant for Quantiq, and Charlotte Hyde (25), who works for Virgin Media – recently gave an insight into their lives on CIMA’s Instagram channels. Richard took over the mycimalife Instagram account to show what the life of a CIMA student looks like. Charlotte shared her story on CIMA’s global Instagram account after having been chosen via Virgin Media’s grad scheme for this. Richard and Charlotte are working full-time so balancing work, study and leisure can be tricky. Both have support from their employers who grant them study leave and days off for their exams. While Richard has support from fellow accountants at work, Charlotte has a financial incentive linked to each CIMA level she passes.
Richard is currently doing project work for which he has to do a lot of commuting. He spends around 10 hours per week studying but has an exam coming up soon. This means he will probably have to dedicate more time on CIMA. Right now, he rarely studies at home as he uses the hours on the train instead, so he still finds the time to go to the gym or go to a football match.
“When this project finishes I imagine it will eat into my evenings. Time management will become more important,” Richard says. Charlotte has already reached that point and proactively plans how much daily time she can spend studying.
Charlotte spends an hour or more in the evening studying – especially when she has an exam coming up – but still finds time for socialising with friends. At weekends, she usually spends one day at college while her courses are running but she also makes sure that she has enough quality time with her boyfriend. Helpfully though, her boyfriend is also studying for the CIMA qualification. “It really helps having someone at home who understands – it also means I have somebody to practise questions with and fire random facts at,” she says.
Having some time off is possible due to the flexibility of CIMA’s on-demand exams offer, and both Charlotte and Richard agree that this is one of the benefits of studying with CIMA.
Charlotte said: “Having the case study at each level now means that you’re able to apply this to an organisation, and also think about how the theory could help you in your real job. It’s also great how the focus becomes more strategic as you progress through the pillars.”
Richard also thinks that everything he learns is very relevant to his job: “Studying with CIMA has allowed me to be more relaxed in meetings with qualified accountants and CFOs. I feel my contributions are respected. When clients know you are part qualified, you hold a little more gravitas when talking about finance related topics.”
Even before qualifying, Charlotte has experienced success, coming second in the world in her Operational Case study exam: “This has gained me a lot of recognition within the graduate scheme and wider workplace. It also continually encourages me to think ethically and holistically while at work and should help me continue to add value.”
Sometimes a bit of explaining needs to be done about CIMA. “People usually think it’s a cover for being a spy. My area of expertise is very niche, and often people have not heard of it before, it’s easier to generalise, usually I say I work in IT,” Richard jokes. However, he does have many friends who are already CIMA-qualified or are currently studying CIMA as well. Charlotte says that her friends and family take a real interest in what she and her boyfriend are doing, although they switch off if things get a bit too technical. “They are really impressed that we are so motivated to keep learning and developing ourselves,” she says.

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