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Importance Of Professional Certification and Soft Skills - Impressions From Last Month’s “Summer Soirée”

Importance Of Professional Certification and Soft Skills - Impressions From Last Month’s “Summer Soirée”

17 days ago by Nina Michels-Kim, CMA (U.S.), CSCA
Summer Soiree Cropped

Last month, I attended the "Summer Soirée" hosted by FocusCore Japan and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). The event featured networking opportunities and "meishikoukan," as well as a panel discussion on the value of IMA's Certified Management Accountant (U.S. CMA) certification. The panel, moderated by FocusCore Business Manager Jonathan Cant (far right in attached photo), included four distinguished guests: Shinya Konishi, Tatsuhiko Miyamoto, Chie Ikegawa, and Zenichiro Ishibashi (far right to left in photo), all of whom are IMA Japan Chapter board members. The panelists emphasized that the U.S. CMA certification gives professionals the management accounting skills to excel in financial planning and analysis (FP&A) roles. They also stressed the importance of acquiring additional essential soft skills to thrive as a business partner in Japan's evolving finance landscape and secure a future role on the CFO’s team.

As a U.S. CMA myself and a fellow member of the IMA Japan Chapter Board, afterwards I spoke to panelist Zenichiro Ishibashi about his key points from the panel discussion: 

  • Life-long learning: Ishibashi-san emphasized the value of continuous learning throughout one's career. He obtained U.S. professional qualifications like U.S. CMA and U.S. CPA in his 40’s and even pursued IMA's CSCA qualification at 59 years old, to enhance his strategic thinking skills. He obtained IMA Data Analytics & Visualization Fundamentals Certificate last year, to enhance his analytical skills. His message: it's never too late to become an FP&A professional and staying updated with current trends is crucial.

  • Benefits of Professional Organizations: He highlighted the benefits of joining professional organizations like IMA, where you can connect with like-minded FP&A professionals. He also shared his experience serving as IMA Tokyo Chapter Board member for several years, on IMA's Global Board of Directors for two years, and his current role of IMA Japan Chapter President as a volunteer.

  • Importance of Soft Skills: Ishibashi-san emphasized that, in his extensive career, he obtained numerous certifications, but he believes that soft skills such as leadership (influencing), communications, strategic decision-making, and business acumen are even more crucial for FP&A professionals aiming to become effective business partners.

To enhance your soft skills, explore my course on becoming a Strategic Business Partner with this link. As a special offer (“Omiyage”) for FocusCore Japan readers, use the discount code "FOCUSCORE50" to enjoy a 50% discount on the course and receive complimentary coaching from me for a limited time! 

Nina is a seasoned professional with over 13 years of experience in strategic finance roles at renowned pharmaceutical companies. She transitioned into entrepreneurship, establishing a boutique consultancy, where she consulted for over 12 years for IMA, a global non-profit for financial professionals, in roles such as Director of European Operations and Director of Partnerships for Japan and Korea. Drawing from her extensive 25+ years of experience, Nina currently serves as a coach for finance professionals and a consultant for organizations, alongside her roles as an advisor, speaker, and prolific writer with numerous published articles. You can reach Nina at  or follow her on LinkedIn.