Diageo's business performance management analyst, Gayle Broadhurst, has always had every intention of getting her CIMA qualification - it's just that her career got in the way

My route to getting the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification has been long-winded, but I am looking forward to finally becoming qualified - I now have the hands-on experience of what opportunities it will create.

I started studying for the CIMA qualification early on in my career, but got sidetracked working long hours and have yet to complete it. But what I learnt has undoubtedly helped me with my current job at Diageo.

It taught me about the interpretation of numbers and how to analyse risks to the business - to look at the bigger picture and make relative and sound decisions based on current information and projections for the future.

My role at Diageo covers the consolidation and reporting of a broad spectrum of areas of the business - from the trading profit numbers through to the health and safety statistics at each of our sites.

The main challenge is finding how to interpret this information for the different audiences it is delivered to, ranging from the executive packs I send out to the global leadership teams to the updates issued to all our employees across the world in the company newsletter.

Diageo is the world's leading drinks business, with a portfolio of leading alcohol beverage brands that includes Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Baileys and Captain Morgan.

The company trades in more than 180 markets around the world and at the last count employs more than 20,000 people in around 80 countries.

Diageo is the most supportive company I have worked for. Its key strategy is 'Delivering enduring growth - great people building brands' and it is keen to make its employees everything they can be. Each year the company conducts an employee values survey to assess how our values are being demonstrated individually and across the company. I enjoy my job - the only thing that was missing was my qualification.

I come from a small town almost midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. I have to admit that from a very early age I knew I wanted to be an accountant and earn lots of money and drive a very fast car just like my daddy's accountant!

With this in mind, I worked hard through high school and in 1995 got five Scottish Highers at the end of my fifth year - exactly what I needed to do a degree in accounting at almost any one of my chosen universities.

It was at this point I saw a job advertised in my local paper for a trainee accountant with a large blue-chip organisation, Honeywell Control Systems.

It was only a 20-minute drive from my home, which made it even more appealing. I got the job and a few months in made up my mind that the CIMA qualification was the one for me.

Working in industry so early on in my career made this a very easy decision to make - in my mind I could see the qualification would open up so many doors for me.

From speaking with my colleagues and line manager, I could see that CIMA not only teaches you about accounting and finance, but it also gives you the skills you need to understand how a business runs and how it all fits together, from the production lines all the way to knowing what information would be of most value to the FD and leadership teams.

I decided that the best route to take would be to spend a couple of years getting an HNC in accounting and then to transfer to the CIMA qualification - which would allow me to get as many exemptions as possible without having done a degree.

I gained invaluable experience in all areas of accounting in my trainee role. But within a few years I decided that I would like to work for a smaller organisation so that I could get more practical, hands-on experience.

After a bit of job-hunting, I found a new role in the electronics manufacturing industry, working for CTS Corporation. But with the challenge of the new job came a whole load of work - and without day release, studying for the CIMA exams became increasingly difficult.

As the company grew, my role evolved and I got more involved in the management accounting and inventory side of the business. I learned how to be a management accountant, and how to deal with people from the shop floor to senior management.

I was working long hours and decided to put my studying on hold for a while - something I regret deeply now. But with the support of Diageo, I am finally taking up my studies again, and hope to have the strategic level completed by this year.