Hussam Aleshaiker graduated from London Metropolitan University in 1998 having studied BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance. He is now the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Asiacell, the leading provider of quality mobile telecommunications services in Iraq, with over 10 million subscribers. Seventeen years after his first degree, Hussam got in touch with us to share his experience and talk about his life after London Met.
What does your role of Chief Financial Officer involve?
My day-to-day activities as a CFO include attending board meetings (presenting the company’s performance), controlling the OPEX (operating expense) and CAPEX (capital expenditure) spending, approving new products and services that will be introduced to the market, liaising with external and internal auditors, cost optimisation programs and dealing with ‘the big four’ (KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte).
After graduating how did you start your career?
My first real job was in the accounts department of Donaldsons (Chartered surveyors in Green Park) where I worked for three years. I was fortunate that the company sponsored me to do the ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants exam). I completed the course and became fully qualified, and after some years of experience I then moved to ATIS Real Weatheralls to gain indepth accounting experience, where I developed my career over the next three years. After getting my foot in the door in my chosen industry, I wanted to branch out and see what opportunities I could get overseas using my accounting experience and the academic and professional qualifications that I had gained.
How did studying BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance course help you prepare for the world of work?
The course was excellent – I gained so much knowledge in various subjects like advance financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, budget and business planning. We had amazing lecturers that made me fully aware of different accounting aspects. We used many case studies on companies to put the theory into practice. We also worked both in groups and individually. There was much emphasis on presentations, so that when I went into the real world, it was not so different to what I had studied at university. In addition, the course taught me to use logic and common sense; this is really important after graduating.
What was your highlight at London Met and how has it helped you progress in your career?
There were many amazing moments at London Met that I won’t forget, but the main highlight was that my course prepared me for the world of work. I was ready to be a professional by the time I graduated. Having excellent lecturers who have extensive experience in the industry helped me a lot. I would like to say thank you to Ken Reid in particular who really encouraged me, and was there to help me through my studies.
What advice would you give to students looking for a job, studying and about to graduate?
Concentrate on the experience that you are going to get initially (not the salary). Once you have the right experience and the qualifications, there will be opportunities available.
For students or graduates who want to get into the finance world, do the ACCA or any other reputable professional qualification (you need both academic and professional qualifications) as the current market is very competitive. You need to separate yourself from the crowd. Many companies support graduates financially to take up professional qualifications, so take a look into it!! Be spontaneous. Think globally. My degree from London Met enabled me to get jobs both in the UK and overseas.