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Meet the new boss

PQ editor Graham Hambly went for a chat with CIMA’s new CEO, Andrew Harding

October 2016

PQ magazine recently visited Rio to talk to CIMA’s newly appointed CEO, Andrew Harding. No, not a big Olympic junket – CIMA seems to have named all its meeting rooms at its HQ after places we would all like to go to on holiday! We could have just as easily been in New York, Johannesburg or Tokyo.
Harding took the reins at CIMA at the beginning of August from Charles Tilley, who stepped down to take on the role of executive chairman at the CGMA Research Foundation.
He joined CIMA in 2009 and more than anyone knows what a big job he now has on his hands.
Over the summer CIMA members, along with their counterparts in the AICPA, voted overwhelmingly to create the ground-breaking new Association.
And when the Association is formed in 2017 Harding will become the CEO of its management accounting unit and will be responsible for driving the impact of management accounting across the world.
Harding said: “It’s a huge privilege to be appointed chief executive as we enter this new chapter in CIMA’s history. To be combining the power of management accounting and public accounting for the first time through the power of the Association is so exciting.”
There will be no ‘big bang’ on 1 January 2017 when the Association becomes a reality. He reiterated that it will not be taking away anything that members value. He said: “The idea is to build on that and to give them even better value.”
Harding sees the Association as a win-win for CIMA’s PQs, ‘who will become members of the most influential accountancy body in the world’. They will also have an organisation which works with them, supporting their career, wherever it takes them. “They definitely get better employability,” Harding claimed.
During our conversation we also touched on automation and the rise of the robots. Harding stressed that what business always needs to be is ‘relevant’, and the same is true of professional bodies. He wants to help give his members the skills to embrace challenges like automation, and feels they have to learn how to use it; if they work against it they will be left behind. And in the same vein, he believes members have understood that they need to move into the future, and the Association is it.
He explained that when it comes to CPD the AICPA is a world leader. “They do it really well,” he stressed. Harding believes that CPD will become a vital component in a CIMA member’s armory. “The future could be tough and we need to recognise the hard work members put in to keep themselves relevant,” he explained. This means CIMA is looking to formally badge and acknowledge those who have invested in their skills and learning.
In his role of CEO, Harding’s focus will be on ensuring that members of the Association are in the strongest possible position by making the CGMA designation the must-have qualification for accountants working in business. They will know that they have the skills and solutions needed now and in the future to make them the best-qualified people to provide business leaders with the information needed to drive further success.
The opportunities presented by the US market are also huge and will be another prime interest for Harding. He believes the Chartered Global Management Accounting (CGMA) designation will become a valid choice for graduates who want to work in one of the big US corporates.
Getting the global branding right will be a challenge. Do we need ACMA (or FCMA) and CGMA, for example? Harding understands these challenges, but he felt he had to ensure Association members keep ahead of the game, ensuring they were plugged in to the knowledge, resources and skills that would help them to succeed. The rest would fall into place.

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