G?kmen OnbulakIn the following Q&A, hear from Mercedes-Benz CFO Gökmen Onbulak about the value of the CMA® (Certifed Management Accountant) certification to his company and the challenges facing the profession:

1. What does Mercedes-Benz's relationship with IMA and the CMA entail? 

As CFO of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Turkey (MBFT), my aim is to enhance the competencies of finance team members who are accountable for the financial performance of the company and take an active role in strategic management. 

We have seen how 2020 proved to be the year that crisis can turn into opportunities with intensive cooperation among team members. While we transformed our working model to 100% home-office, we achieved the highest quality in the shortest month-end close ever. In parallel, we achieved at least four major projects/reporting requirements related to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

Our team has always been the key to this success, and as we are all managing the impacts of remote work, I believe each individual’s discipline and self-motivation has been crucial more than ever. 

It was a happy coincidence when Grete Buivydaite approached us about IMA’s Corporate Partner Program last June, since our colleagues have been looking for a team training program for a while and some team members have been eager to earn the CMA certification. We wanted to establish this connection with IMA, so that our team will benefit from a team training program, focusing on common areas of interest and gain benchmark competencies that the CMA certification offers.

2. Why did Mercedes-Benz choose the CMA as the tool through which it could upskill its finance professionals? What goals/objectives did it want to meet through the CMA program?

Our aim in participating in the Corporate Partner Program is to benefit from the CMA certification training and self-learning process, therefore improving the competencies of our colleagues. 

In the long run, I believe the CMA’s continuing professional education requirements also will encourage a long-term commitment by my team to improve a valuable skill-set—not only regarding their day-to-day business, but also in terms of soft skills and global technological developments in the finance profession.

We have a dynamic organization, leading the way to talent and skills transfer among departments and group entities. When we mentioned about a partnership opportunity with IMA, all finance colleagues from Accounting, Tax, Controlling, and Treasury, as well as participants from the Credit Risk Management team, were willing to participate. Our finance team has been exceptionally enthusiastic about the CMA certification, seeing it as a way to move above and beyond their functional boundaries towards a strategic financial decision-making role.

3. Do you see automation as a major challenge to the finance profession—in terms of changing the nature of the job and needed skillsets—in years to come?

In my opinion, finance and automation are crucial knowledge areas in any function of the company. After a distance from finance responsibility for six years, I’ve observed that the requirements from the team have increased exponentially. Efficiency is the key to allocate the team’s value-added time in financial analysis and decision making rather than operational workload. That’s why we always consider automation our first priority.

4. Do you see the CMA as an important part in equipping Mercedes-Benz's finance professionals with the skills they need to succeed in a changing world?

The training for CMA certification will provide comprehensive knowledge for the team—from core finance topics to professional ethics. 

What’s even more important for me is to see how individuals develop their career based on their studies. As they will invest much time and energy, we will do our best as an organization to facilitate where they will utilize this asset.

5. How will IMA help Mercedes-Benz drive business performance?

As an organization, our talents—with continuous improvement and self-learning in mind— shape our future. As the CFO of the company, my expectation is to develop a team of individuals who establish their skillset towards strategic financial management.

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