IMA Switzerland Chapter President Hessel BrouwerWe recently spoke with the president of the IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) Switzerland Chapter, Hessel Brouwer, CMA, head of financial control at Dätwyler Technical Components. Get to know him a little better as he shares his insights and goals for the future:

Q: Why did you decide to become a CMA® (Certified Management Accountant)?

HB: Johnson & Johnson is a great supporter of the CMA program. As a participant in the Financial Leadership Development Program (FLDP) at J&J, I was encouraged and supported to attain the certification. I was interested in the challenge and liked the breadth of topics covered in the program. Additionally, I wanted to be more certain about my skills in management accounting. In the end, it really paid off.

Q: Can you talk about your role in and plans for the Switzerland Chapter?

HB: It’s an honor to be elected president of the Switzerland Chapter. When I came to Switzerland after having just earned my CMA, I never imagined I’d be in this position. At the time, Nina Michels-Kim was just founding the chapter, and I was looking to network in my new environment.

Now that the chapter is 10 years old, we’re working on keeping a stable succession of high-quality events and encouraging members to be more active. We’ve matured a lot, and it’s a great and exciting personal challenge, both to motivate the chapter board and also to engage members more in the chapter. I see a big part of my role as making sure members in Europe get as much value out of IMA as possible. Much of this should come from the chapters: organize great events and be the fabric of IMA. Furthermore, we should spread the word about the CMA, so it’s recognized even more in the market. Part of that is also growing membership to gain more critical mass.

Q: What’s been your biggest challenge during your time at Dätwyler?

HB: Our markets have been dramatically impacted by the advent of online shopping, which has also meant a lot of change for our business and Finance. One of my previous bosses regularly used a quote attributed to Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” In business, I cannot agree more.

Q: What should Finance professionals do to stay relevant in a changing world?

HB: In most companies, Finance is not part of the value chain. Moreover, there are extremely skilled and motivated people willing to take over your job at any time – and in the case of Switzerland, they may be in another country and earning much lower wages. Rather than saying you should keep on developing yourself (which you should), and study this or that subject, I recommend you ask yourself every day: Did I add value? Does this task add value? How will I add value in 10 years from now and what do I need to learn now to be able to do that? This will be the key to your career development.

Q: How does the digital transformation impact your role?

HB: As I mentioned, our business has been turned upside down by the digital revolution. Within Finance, we’ve done an amazing job streamlining processes like AP and AR. We’ve also made great moves on business intelligence and data analytics, but to be fair, both Finance and IT sometimes struggle with the complexity of that. When I reflect on this, I don’t believe that robots will ever fully take over the analytical and strategic aspects from Finance. The better and more complex systems get, the more advanced are the skills that are required from us.

Q: What’s the best thing about being a CMA?

HB: In terms of return on investment, I can say I landed my job at Dätwyler thanks to having the CMA, as my then-future boss had the CMA too, so we hit the ground running during the interview. I really enjoy the opportunity to make my mark on the Switzerland Chapter and IMA Europe Board as well. I can recommend all IMA members to do as I did: get involved little by little, and you’ll be surprised how much you can get in return.