Renowned accounting academic, Robert S. Kaplan once said: “Managing risk is very different from managing strategy. Risk management focuses on the negative—threats and failures rather than opportunities and successes.”
Paradoxically, seasoned professionals know the outcome of managing risk can be opportunity and success. Rather than risk referring to something negative, identifying a threat can create an opportunity for improvement. Acknowledging failures can make a company more efficient or find a competitive edge.
That’s certainly been the outcome for Moataz Kandil, Chief Executive Officer at the Dubai Green Fund, a fully owned entity by Dubai Government which acts as the funding pillar for the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 towards achieving its Net Zero target- and the way he approaches his work and career.
“The pandemic showed us we have to broaden our view about risks and be able manage those risks in a more controlled way,” he says. “What kind of risks do we see coming out of the pandemic, What is the impact of those post pandemic risks towards achieving the strategic objectives of the organizations, how is it affecting its future ability to generate its future financial returns?
Notably, when considering his career, Kandil applies the same questioning by looking to turn risk into potential.
“It's a changing world,” he says. “If you're not up-to-date and if you don't educate yourself about new developments or what's happening on a global level, you will lose your place. If you're satisfied with what you have or where you are now, you will end up left out of the best crowd.”
Asked how he was able to gain his professional advantage in the face of risk and Kandil’s response is unequivocal: it was his recent designation as a CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant) qualified accounting and finance professional that gave him a new perspective to better minimise career risk and create new opportunities.
“When I came across The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), I immediately liked it. It is a full-rounded professional qualification and not just about the financial or the economical perspective,” says Kandil. “It was about giving a new dimension of looking at risk management, risk strategy and finance. It’s not just about accountancy entries but looking at the bigger picture.”
At the time, Kandil had already started studying for CMA (Certified Management Accountant) certification but was so impressed by the potential that CIMA could offer that he decided to put his studies on hold and get enrolled with CIMA.
Formed in 1919, CIMA is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants. As part of The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association), the unified voice of The American Institute of CPAs & CIMA and its members and students operate in 192 countries and territories, working at the heart of business – in industry, commerce, the public sector and not-for-profit organisations. CIMA works closely with employers and sponsors leading-edge research, constantly updating its professional qualification and professional experience requirements to ensure it remains the employers choice when recruiting financially trained business leaders.
Those who qualify via CIMA are distinct from traditional accountants through their comprehensive knowledge of how their organisation operates. They have first-class leadership skills and, with a clear understanding of their company’s business model, strategic context and competitive position, they play a vital role to spot risks, trends and they help to make strategic decisions – from improving internal efficiencies to tackling market expansion.
There are numerous study paths for students hoping to achieve the CGMA designation but as an experienced senior manager, with more than two decades of executive-level management experience, Kandil qualified for entry to the CIMA Professional Qualification.
Naturally, studying for the qualification is no easy feat. The syllabus is split into three levels: operational, management and strategic and comprises nine objective tests and three case study exams. Kandil says he got around this by establishing a clear schedule for studying, work and family time. Time management was a crucial factor. He also mentioned that one key factor was to enjoy the material and not to look at it as just a study course that you need to pass its exam to get the certification.
His favourite and the most notable module were the case studies. “The case study was very beneficial because it has a practical approach where you read about companies then apply the knowledge you’ve learnt from the course,” he says. “That means identifying where are the problems and coming up with the relevant possible solutions in the case study company. It was good to see all your knowledge around risk and strategy being applied.”
Although Kandil speaks of risk proofing his career, when you consider his wealth of experience and successes you might wonder why he felt it important to study for CIMA.
Kandil has more than 23 years of executive-level management experience and a proven track record in achieving outstanding performance for companies with investments in sectors including real estate, financial services, renewable energy, retail, healthcare and education. He has also led and concluded many multi-jurisdictional financing, private equity, M&A and venture capital deals worth billions of dollars.
Today he works for the Dubai Green Fund, the first specialized green fund in the MENA region whose mandate is to invest in projects and companies engaged in environmentally supportive activities. Despite his years of success in private equity and investment banking, he says tackling the areas of climate change and ESG has given him a different sense of direction and a sense of purpose.
One of the projects he has been working is investing in turning the Dubai Airport to be the first energy efficient airport in the region. Dubai Airport has launched a series of green initiatives since 2019 including a project to replace ground service vehicle fleet with electric and hybrid vehicles, and the installation of a 15,000-panel solar array at DXB’s Terminal 2. These initiatives together with other environmental projects will help Dubai Airports to achieve its sustainability goals.
“My focus is to make sure the fund is operating at the highest international standards with strict governance and ability to monitor and mitigate risks, such as cyber security risk, enterprise risk and sustainability risk, This goes hand in hand with the efforts to meet and exceed the financial returns for the Fund” he says.
A bigger mission
It’s thanks to CIMA, he says, he sharpened his strategic approach to his role. “CIMA provided me with the ability to look at the bigger picture to ensure that all strategies are working in harmony to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders to avoid confusion
For Kandil, it’s clear that CIMA goes beyond just accounting. It focuses on understanding of all risks associated with managing an organization and its investments and putting proper and clear strategies in the face of a changing world. This is to the success of Dubai Green Fund.
Personally speaking, his indices of success are deeply altruistic: “When you feel your work not only touches the lives of people around you but also the lives of future generations, it becomes a real motivating factor. Beyond money or the country, you go to work every day and ensure we’re all benefiting. It motivates me that I’m working for a purpose.”