My journey to the final of a top accounting competition

Student spotlight | Sohaib Ahmed, BA (Hons) Accounting & Finance


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Sohaib is a final year student who was the leader of the team that reached the final of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants’ (CIMA) UK Business Game. His place in the final was achieved after balancing team meetings with lockdown life, university work and Ramadan. 

Sohaib transferred to Leeds Beckett for the final year of his course and is planning to continue his accountancy education after graduating. 

How did you enter the competition?

An opportunity came from our lecturer Helen Ripley, who emailed the cohort about the CIMA competition. Once the email was received I was really keen to enter the competition, however, at first, I had to think about it because an audit exam was soon. Then I thought again and decided definitely it was a great opportunity available to achieve success in, and the competition and exam preparation can be managed well. 

What sort of tasks or challenges did you have to complete?

Nothing comes easy – as a team leader it was challenging for me to manage everyone and ensure they got all the work done on time. Also, it was vital for us to have good preparation before each round and this was possible because we all as a team got on well and did our best. The main challenge was setting the timing for meetings because we all were following the month of Ramadan too, so with fasting and other commitments, sometimes the discussion was taking place at two o’clock in the morning. But we all were very consistent and focused with what we were doing. The best thing was we all understood each other well and did the tasks that were set on time. 

How did you find working with your team? Was it rewarding?

It was absolutely fantastic! We were a great team. The discussion was very open and useful, every discussion was fruitful and we designed a very attractive and informative presentation. As a leader, my team listened to my instructions and valued my opinions and vice versa. We managed to reach the final stage of the competition and came second, which was a very honourable moment for all of us. 

What kind of support did you receive from lecturers?

The lecturers have supported us and motivated us throughout the competition. They regularly sent us catch-up and encouragement emails, which was really kind of them and kept our hopes high. They also took their precious time out and attended the last round, which made us all very happy. We were regularly being asked if we needed any support and, thankfully, as a team, we managed to do well on everything by productive communication. 

What was it like competing in the final?

A very challenging and exciting moment, our opposing team did a great job and I must say our team did fantastic too. Finishing as runner-up was superb for us and our lecturers and our aim was to make our university proud. 

What skills and experience have you taken from the process?

I must say many skills, including teamwork, negotiation, listening, leadership, interpersonal and many more. It has been a very professional experience as we presented in front of senior lecturers and the CIMA staff, hence, we all dressed up in suits to portray virtual professionalism. Also, it gave us the ability to see what the future work for us graduates could possibly look like with the majority of the work being shifted online. 

What advice would you give someone thinking about studying this course?

It’s a very exciting and thrilling course if you are to pursue a career in accountancy. However, the good thing is that your career is not limited and, therefore, your doors to other careers are open too. There are many good graduate opportunities available by doing an accounting degree and you get the professional assistance to start the ACA, ACCA or CIMA journey. I can reassure students that all the staff are super helpful. 

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