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Career story: progressing a trade finance career with CITF and CDCS

30 November, 2021Ouida Taaffe

A working mother explains why she took on the challenge of additional professional qualifications alongside a new baby and discusses the many benefits that a ‘hard year’ brought to her career in trade finance.

Skyscrapers towering up into the skyMore exams? Do graduate professionals really have anything to gain from further qualifications?

Yes – particularly when it comes to dealing with real-world challenges like trade finance, says Amaal Mohamed Abdulla, Assistant Function Manager, at Kuwait Finance House.

Amaal – who graduated from University of Bahrain in Economics and Finance with an Excellent GPA – started her career in trade finance with Kuwait Finance House in 2009 as Assistant Supervisor.

“When I joined I had to search for information on everything,” says Amaal. “I would work on something and think ‘what about Article 16, or Article 1?’ It was a lot of effort – particularly as I was a fresh graduate trying to prove myself.”

But Amaal did enjoy the challenge.

“I love trade finance,” she says. “The variety is so enjoyable. It’s not like just dealing with a loan. There is new information about real-world business issues every day.”

Studying for CITF and CDCS

Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance launched the LIBF’s Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF) and the Certificate for Documentary Credit Specialists (CDCS) programmes in 2013. When the bank asked Amaal to take part, she signed up.

This is where many people might have paused – no matter how interested and hard-working they are – because Amaal was looking after her first baby, who was just three months old.

“I got home from work at four, left again at six and got back at nine,” she says. “My manager and my family really encouraged me to take the CITF certificate and I’m so glad I did.” 

After six months study, she passed first time.

“It opened the door for me,” she says. “You know the rules, the processes and the procedures. It really helped me to improve my work, to improve the policies and procedures and even to upgrade our systems.”

When she then took the CDCS exams in 2014, they were even more helpful.

“It was a deep dive. It means you can catch every discrepancy in the trade documentation.” Again, she passed at the first attempt.

“It was a challenge and I couldn’t have done it without unending support from my husband and family, who looked after the baby while I studied.”

Given the effort involved would she have considered waiting until it might have been a bit easier to take the exams?

“It was hard for a year,” she says, “But then you have a very clear view of your work – both theoretical and practical.”

Promotion and further trade finance study

When she passed the exams she was promoted to Team Leader in Trade Finance. What she learned in CITF and CDCS also formed the basis for her master’s research into supply chain finance.

Then she went on to win first place in KFH-Bahrain’s Innovation ideas fintech competition in 2016 and to come second in the KFH-Group Innovation Ideas competition. Again, the foundation was her work in trade finance. Her idea was to set up a platform that supports Islamic supply chain finance.

Covid-19 got in the way of putting the winning idea into practice as funds were diverted to support SMEs during lockdown.

However, Amaal is working on getting support from government and from another financial institution to launch the platform.

“Supply chain finance will be very important in developing sustainable economies,” she says. “Using new technologies like blockchain, it will be the future of trade finance.”

To that end, she’s looking forward to more study. This time, she will be working on LIBF’s Certificate in Supply Chain Finance (CSCF).

Related content

More about the Certificate in International Trade and Finance (CITF)

More about the Certificate for Documentary Credit Specialists (CDCS)