CMA and IMA Success Stories
The Journey Continues by Richard Leonard
Learning - An Ongoing Process by Srilatha Krishnan, CMA
IMA Life: Keeping Moving Downstream, by Deborah C. Michalowski
The Journey Continues
By: Richard Leonard, CPA, CMA
When I was working as a Financial Analyst at a non-profit organization in Mesa, AZ in 2014, my manager, DeAnn Miller-Heyer, CPA, CMA, CFE, MBA was someone I really looked up to. She was the organization’s CFO and was the first CMA I ever met. DeAnn took a genuine interest in me as an employee and looked for ways to help me advance my career goals.
In that same year, I had become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), but DeAnn encouraged me to take the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) exam as well. I remember her telling me the CMA exams were as hard as the CPA exams. I thought she was being sarcastic until I started working through the review material. I was surprised at just how challenging the questions really were! I soon realized she had not been joking with me.
Preparing for the CMA also allowed me to become more familiar with the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) organization. I started to see IMA was not just an organization that offered the CMA, but they were also committed to helping accounting professionals maximize their careers.
I soon learned one of the best parts of IMA was something I would never have suspected – an annual video contest! Each year, IMA hosts a make-your-own video contest where members throughout the world are given a chance to share what becoming a CMA means to them. Since I tend to be on the creative side, this was a challenge I did not want to miss. In January 2018, I put together a video called, “Ready to Start Your Journey?” and sent it in. The video talked about how as a CPA, I learned how to calculate the numbers, but as a CMA, I was learning what the numbers mean. I still believe this is true. The CMA Certification trains you to take the business data and use it to make intelligent management decisions. It was a low budget film for sure, but to my amazement, I ended up being one of the top four videos in the contest. I even came away with some prize money!
A daily benefit from the IMA is my connection with our local IMA chapter – Arizona Valley of the Sun. After receiving my CMA, I attended one of their meetings and quickly realized there was a lot of talent amongst them. Meeting with CFOs, controllers, accounting educators and students, I have gleaned an enormous amount from their experiences. I came on board with the chapter in 2018 as secretary, the next year moved into the role of VP of membership, and starting in May of 2020, I will be chapter president. My goal is to make the chapter a strong group of individuals, committed to helping each other grow to their highest career potential, just like my former manager, DeAnn, did for me.
Since passing the CMA exam in 2018, I have had two opportunity to take my career to the next level. In late 2018 I was promoted to Senior Accountant at the non-profit I was working for and in May of 2019, I took a role as the Accounting Supervisor of a Fortune 1,000 company, Global Payments, Inc.
I would not be where I am today without the CMA certification and the benefits I have received from the IMA and our local chapter. It has allowed me to move from “Ready to Start Your Journey” to “The Journey Continues” in my career path.
Learning - An Ongoing Process
By: Srilatha Krishnan, CMA
Even with over a decade of experience in financial reporting across diverse industries, I realized having a professional certification always helps one stand out from others, in addition to bringing necessary skills and competence required to understand every activity and its impact on the finance function. Along the way, my managers never failed to inspire me the way they used their professional skills and competence to create a difference in handling issues and making decisions. This created an urge to learn how business operations integrates with accounting and finance, the effect of accounting on financial reporting and the role of forecasting in financial planning and analysis. This inner motivation combined with the capabilities that a certification can bring, made me seek out the best credential that would suit my career aspirations.
Researching through different certifications was quite overwhelming as I had to look inside myself to see if I had what was required to bridge the gap between what I know and what I need to know in order to add value to my roles and responsibilities. When I came across the core competencies which CMA (Certified Management Accountant) offers, I was convinced that this was the right choice and would be instrumental to my career progression.
Until I started preparing for this rigorous certification, I didn’t realize the hard work, commitment and perseverance required to successfully accomplish it. Completing this certification wasn’t easy to me as it commanded in-depth study and persistent efforts to obtain it. With family responsibilities, it became even more challenging to achieve, but I started preparing for it steadily and consistently. It was the drive and determination which kept me moving forward despite setbacks in this journey. However, when you realize what your hard work has paid for, you feel a sense of fulfilment as you have earned it.
Besides this, I should acknowledge the Institute of Management Accountant’s (IMA) pivotal role in creating a platform for networking and advocating continuous learning by means of the best in class webinars and publications to keep its members informed and facilitate their transition to the changing business environment. This illustrates IMA’s vision and commitment to keep pace with industry’s standards by empowering its members with much needed knowledge and skills.
When I think about the benefits this certification provides, I feel it has widened my spectrum of opportunities as I can now take up various finance roles ranging from costing, management accounting, financial planning, reporting and analysis, which wouldn’t have been feasible without this credential. This certification certainly is a game changer for me as it defines my career path and serves as a catalyst for my professional development.
IMA Life: Keeping Moving Downstream
BY Deborah C. Michalowski, CPA
Published in Strategic Finance Magazine, April 2020 Edition: