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IMA tackles the accounting skills gap, sends students to US Student Leadership Conference

Tuesday, December 5, 2017/ Editor -  


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Dubai, UAE, December 05, 2017–  On November 9-11, IMA®  (Institute of Management Accountants), sent four students from Egypt, Qatar and UAE to represent the Middle East and Africa region at the organization’s annual Student Leadership Conference in Houston, Texas, USA. IMA chose the students from leading university partners in the region, namely American University in Cairo, Qatar University and the American University in Sharjah.

“Every year, we send four to six students from the region where they meet over 600 students from China, Europe, India and the Americas to let them explore their career options in management accounting and help address the skills gap in accounting,” says Rishi Malhotra, academic and  student relations manager at IMA Middle East.

The skills gap in accounting has been a concern for many decades now. Traditional accounting curriculum has been too narrowly focused on financial accounting, particularly in audit, tax, statutory reporting, and compliance. In 2015, IMA published a report that found 90% of CFOs have a hard time finding the right talent, with deficiencies existing in both technical and nontechnical skills. 

“Typically, these students come to the conference unaware that roles exist outside of public accounting firms. The exposure encourages them to seek out a well-rounded course load and prepares them for a meaningful job experience as accountants and financial managers in business later on,” explains Malhotra.

At the conference, students also got a glimpse of the challenges they will be facing in the workplace. The most popular speaker at this year’s conference was Andrew Fastow, the former CFO of Enron. Fastow shared his personal experience on fraud and how he and other Enron executives rationalized their decisions on “technically” complying with rules and regulations that ultimately led to the downfall of the company.

“We have had a lot of debates and discussions about this topic in my management class. However, as Andrew Fastow talked about his experience, I felt that I too could one day be facing the same dilemma as an accountant in business. His talk gave me a different perspective. I learned that there could be rules we might think are right to follow but are not always ethical,” says Ola Shalab from the American University in Sharjah. 

IMA is the only global management accounting organization to consistently be a forerunner in delivering relevant research on the evolution of the financial professional to a business partner.  To promote curriculum reform, IMA has a Higher Education Endorsement Program which evaluates university accounting programs that meet high educational standards. Schools recognized by IMA prepare students to enter the profession of management accounting and pursue CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification.

“It is my dream to be a professional in accountancy. After listening to all those speakers and how successful they have become over time, I am confident that I have chosen the right path. I want to help drive businesses forward,” adds Sara Elsaid Elhusseiny an accounting student from the American University in Cairo, one of four universities in the region that successfully earned Endorsement from IMA.

This year, IMA also published its first textbook, “Management Accounting – An Integrative Approach” in yet another effort to bridge the gap between what is taught in academia and the skills students need to be prepared for the workforce. 

“IMA is keen to partner with schools and universities with high-quality, up-to-date educational programs that support the changing needs of businesses. We want to help future professional management accountants accomplish their career objectives and meet the competency expectations of employers,' concludes Malhotra.

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