Alisha Quinn currently works for Axon Power & Control in Northern Ireland as an Accounts Assistant (see Linkedin profile here). An SME, Axon Power & Control is an Electrical Contractor that designs and builds control panels, general installation, programming, inspection etc, to name just a few of the key areas that the business focuses on, in markets such as the UK, EU, and USA.
Alisha has worked at the company for just over 3.5 years and in her time with the business her role has expanded and she has gained more exposure in doing so.
She has been studying CIMA for 1.5 years now (at a leisurely rate according to Alisha!). She recently passed the OCS (Operational Case Study) and has booked into classes for F2 (Advanced Financial Reporting) and P2 (Advanced Management Accounting) starting soon. Alisha hopes to have completed CIMA in the next 18 months.
Some people love the Enterprise pillar subjects (E1, E2, E3), while others can't wait to finish up with them. In this interview, Alisha fills us in on her experience with CIMA's E1 - Organisational Management.
When did you take the E1 exam and how did you get on? Was it your first attempt?
I sat E1 in mid-December 2017 and passed at my first attempt.
How long did you spend preparing for the E1 paper?
I spent about 3 months in total, as I had work commitments and I never put much pressure on myself. I spent approximately 12-16 hours on weekends and about 10-14 hours during the week, so on average around 24-30 hours a week, depending on how many classes I had.
Half of my time per week would be spent in class, mostly at the weekends, although we did have a few classes on weekday evenings.
During the week I would split my time in the following way: 25% doing up notes from the previous weekend's class and the remaining time doing practice questions with a particular focus on an area I felt I was weak in. As the time got closer to the exam date, I started to do questions under exam conditions.
Out of all the CIMA subjects I found this one the easiest to plan and prepare for.
Did you take a course or did you opt for self-study?
For this I opted to go to classes, I attended classes in RCA in Belfast. Having self studied for P1 (Management Accounting), I would definitely advise other students to take the class option. It's very hard to stay motivated when you are self studying.
What (if anything), did you find especially difficult with E1 in relation to your preparation e.g. balancing personal life with study, balancing work with study, the material was dull etc??
As I attended classes, I felt I was very well prepared for E1. The tutor had a great study plan to guide us. It is always hard trying to balance work and study, but my advice is just to stay committed.
What (if anything), did you find especially difficult with E1 in relation to the exam day? e.g. time management, nerves etc?
Again, just the usual pre-exam nerves. Time management wasn’t an issue with me as I practiced computer-based questions quite a lot. I would definitely recommend plenty of practice with computer-based questions under exam conditions and to get used to the Pearson Vue format.
Was there an area of the E1 syllabus that you liked more than others?
In general, I enjoyed the E1 syllabus as whole. I found a lot of it to be relevant to my current work life. I felt it was good to get a look at Organisations from different perspectives e.g. HR, Marketing, and not just from a financial perspective.
Was there an area of the E1 syllabus that you liked less than others?
I have to admit, no there wasn’t. As I said, I enjoyed it as a whole.
Do you have any tips for other students about to sit E1?
The best advice I could give is to constantly keep doing practice questions. As E1 is theory-based it can seem overwhelming, but I found by constantly doing questions it all stayed relevant to me. Another thing I found helped me is that I kept trying to relate everything back to my place of work, and again this made the information more relevant.
Have you used VIVA’s study materials? If so, how did you find the materials?
Yes, I used them recently for the OCS (Operational Case Study). I found them extremely helpful and I definitely would not have passed the exam without them. Using the VIVA materials, I was able to look at certain areas in a different way than I had initially interpreted, and I found this extremely helpful.
Do you have any final comments/recommendations/feelings/thoughts about your E1 experience?
E1 was the best experience I have had sitting CIMA exams to date. I put this down to the fact that I attended classes. If the option is there for you to attend classes I would advise students to jump at the chance.