By Rubab Fatimah Rizvi
“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us,
Footprints on the sands of time.”
These lines from the poem, A Psalm of Life, have always inspired me.
With a passion for growth and the drive for excellence, I have always aimed for achieving the extraordinary in all facets of life.
Academically I have been inclined towards Accounting, Economics and Finance. After completing my BSc in Finance with first honours and the highest grade in my class, I wanted to pursue Master’s and eventually enter the corporate world. However, due to certain personal circumstances, I could not go for Master’s that year and being a non-Saudi female meant I couldn’t get a job either because of the Saudization laws. I had a teacher for the course Money and Banking who often stressed the importance of professional certifications and at that instance, his words struck me and my quest for learning propelled me to register for the Certified Management Accountant [CMA] programme.
Morgan International, a renowned institution in the Middle East offering professional certifications including the CMA in partnership with the Institute of Management Accountants [IMA], USA was extremely welcoming. I registered for the course and was promised all the support that I required.
I was born with Congenital Glaucoma, a degenerative eye condition because of which I have little functional sight in one eye. This has never been my limitation but my driving force to face challenges and achieve the impossible.
I was the first visually impaired candidate to have taken the CMA and hence, it was a new experience for Morgan International and IMA and they were highly enthusiastic in providing all possible support. I was readily provided with a pdf version of the books and PowerPoint slides and got access to the Wiley test bank. I was fortunate to have the most capable teachers who read out the material from the board out loud while explaining the lessons. I was very active in class and always shared my insights into lessons and took part in discussions. My classmates never hesitated in reading out the questions or material to me from the textbooks during class work.
I use a screen-reader called JAWS [Job Access With Speech] on the laptop and do all my work independently. CMA is obviously a technical subject involving numbers, complicated tables and large calculations. However, my base in Accounting and Finance is extremely strong and I am very fast at visualizing tables and numbers so I absorbed the course material well. I am a very fast learner and devoted a reasonable amount of time towards understanding each chapter but practiced, practiced and practiced as many questions as I could.
I faced implicit challenges while studying because at times JAWS was not very accessible with online test bank sites or when questions or the course material had large tables or technical questions.
I have always been accustomed to working and studying independently using JAWS and the thought of having a reader during the exams made me very apprehensive. I had been granted extra time and a reader and scribe as well as permission to use my talking calculator.
There were few challenges during the exams not so much because of the anxiety or time constraint but because of getting used to the reader’s style of reading and that too on the very day of the exam.
Nevertheless, all the hard work bore fruit when I received the most awaited and splendid news of passing both my exams in my very first attempt! Not just that, I was the CMA Part II Exam Top Scorer in Saudi Arabia.
I have always aspired to achieve the extraordinary and accomplishing this milestone of my life is indeed gratifying. Mr. Emran Adam of Morgan International, Mr. Abdul Karim, Mr. Ibrahim and Mr. Talib all deserve a special mention for their continuous support and guidance.
I did not just take the CMA because I wanted to prove my caliber to anyone but because I wanted to exploit my knowledge of Management Accounting and Financial Management. A lot of people are conditioned to believe that any person with a visual impairment cannot pursue technical fields of study and I hope that my experience with Morgan International and IMA can open avenues for aspiring CMA’s, regardless of their circumstances.