Michael Burns, CPA, CGMA

Director of Controlling, Covestro

Michael Burns

What were some of the specific attributes of the CGMA Finance Leadership Program that made it attractive to you as a senior finance leader?

What attracted us to the CGMA Finance Leadership Program are the convenience and flexibility of its online learning format, the breadth of coverage of the material, and course topics that are closely aligned with our corporate issues. We also liked that the exam structure mirrors real-world scenarios and that the program itself was developed by AICPA and CIMA.

What specific challenges were you addressing by deploying the CGMA Finance Leadership Program?

The CGMA Finance Leadership Program contains both learning and the ability to pursue and receive the CGMA designation and these features were beneficial to the business. The process of examinations and steps required to earn the CGMA designation assures our management that a certain level of financial knowledge is maintained by the entire finance group who went through the program. As we become leaner as an organization, team members must be knowledgeable about various areas in finance to make a greater contribution.

The program demonstrates that those who completed it are able to take on projects in other areas of the company because they are knowledgeable about a broad array of finance, strategy and leadership topics. Having completed the program, CGMA designation holders are also in a better position for advancement.   

As an additional factor in pursuing CGMA FLP, we positioned the program as a professional development opportunity for employees whose educational background lies in areas outside of finance and who have been out of school for some time. Participating in the FLP allowed them to refresh their knowledge of finance topics and demonstrate that they could apply them in today’s business environment.

How does the CGMA Finance Leadership Program address the significant transformation required in the future skill sets of the finance professional?  

At Covestro, we are pleased with the CGMA FLP topics and exam methodology.  We believe that the program directly aligns with the skills that we need today and in the future to be successful. We are particularly impressed with the focus on essays and applying the financial knowledge participants learned in real-world situations. We have also observed that the program develops broad financial expertise in many areas instead of the narrow focus that many employees experience in their current role. This allows our employees to better understand the impact of events and activities that they are involved in on the overall organization. The FLP process allows for enhanced development and confirmation of those skills.

What are some of the measures of success, both tangible and intangible, that you are expecting to see from the CGMA Finance Leadership Program?  

I would expect employees who have completed the program to begin working on projects in finance areas outside of their own department. I would expect them to challenge what they are doing today because they have an improved understanding of the impact of their activities. I expect them to be better able to communicate results to executive management by clearly articulating issues in emails, meetings and formal presentations. And, of course, having passed the rigorous coursework, these individuals are also demonstrating their commitment to self-development.