Affiliate in 60 seconds – Pawel Kicman

Pawel Kicman talks to Student Accountant about his career as cluster finance controller at Philips Electronics in Warsaw, Poland

For ACCA affiliate Pawel Kicman, accountancy has proved a truly international career – despite having always worked in his native Poland. Pawel explains: ‘After completing an MSc in finance and accounting at the University of Economics in Poznan, I started my first job with a construction company. I was involved in the preparation of feasibility studies for large municipal investments, but wanting more of a challenge, I decided to join PricewaterhouseCoopers in Warsaw, where I became an audit associate and began my ACCA studies. Although, for many, audit is the ideal career, I found the long hours and steep learning curve hard to manage, so after two years I moved to Shell and was appointed finance controller for central Europe, responsible for six countries and one business line – supply and distribution. When I moved I was part way through my ACCA studies which had, up to that point, been funded by PwC – luckily I was able to continue studying with Shell, which also provided financial support.

‘Shell proved to be a great learning opportunity, and I really enjoyed my job. Interestingly, my boss was based in London (I had been in my post for two months before I met him for the first time), but we worked together virtually. My team comprised regional controllers based across Europe, although we came together regularly to discuss progress and plan for the future. After a year, Shell went through a period of restructuring, and my job changed. I became global planning and appraisal analyst, responsible for the distribution business line. Although still based in Warsaw, I now travelled to London every fortnight, as well as visiting colleagues in Singapore and Houston. I was responsible for the monthly analysis of the business, and for managing the planning process across the organisation – I would start the day with telephone calls to Singapore at 7am and finish by talking to Houston at 7pm.

‘Unfortunately, a year later Shell restructured again – and because the jobs I was offered weren’t interesting enough, I decided to move on. I am now cluster finance controller at Philips Electronics, working in a role which is very similar to my first position at Shell.

‘Philips has extensive operations in Poland. There are several light bulb factories in my home town of Pila, as well as a number of other factories across the country. In addition, Poland hosts Philips’ Shared Services Centre, which manages all the company’s European accounting operations. I work in Warsaw, in the electronics division which makes TVs, DVDs, radios, and a wide range of familiar electronic goods. As cluster controller, I manage a team of two people based in Warsaw, as well as working with colleagues who control the operations in each country in the cluster. My role is to supervise the month-end closing process for four countries, ensuring proper booking of accruals and provisions, giving advice to local controllers, consolidating margins, and clarifying the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) status for senior management. I am also responsible for recharging cluster costs to the operations of each country, and for the planning and forecasting process. In addition, I also interface with the IT department, and so am constantly involved in SAP-related issues.

‘There is no doubt that my ACCA status has really helped my career, and in a variety of ways. For example, my current boss, a Dutch ex-pat, holds a Dutch public accountants degree – because we speak the same financial language, he knows that I can handle more complex processes and take on more responsibility. In terms of technical knowledge, we use corporate accounting principles that are very similar to IFRS, so my ACCA knowledge is helpful here as well. For example, we have just concluded some long discussions on the concept of prudence in booking provisions, as well as on some aspects of revenue recognition and date of invoicing, discussions where my ACCA experience proved relevant and helpful. And even though I am an affiliate, and have completed my ACCA studies, I still have ambitions to learn more and soon hope to have a chance to study for an MBA.’


"In terms of technical knowledge, we use corporate accounting principles that are very similar to IFRS, so my ACCA knowledge is helpful here as well"

Pawel Kicman