Ryan Zetterholm is going places. He just earned his master’s degree in accounting at North Carolina State University and is pursuing the “take two” approach – sitting for both the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) and the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exams within a short span. For the CMA exam, he was fortunate to be the recipient of a CMA Scholarship and, thanks in part to that, earlier this year passed both parts of the CMA exam. This August, he started what he terms his “dream job” – in the San Francisco office of Deloitte, where he will join the Forensic Advisory practice.
Ryan offered his insights for those students considering pursuing their CMA:
What got you interested in pursuing the CMA certification?
I attained my dream job with Deloitte as a forensic advisor, and I know that my day-to-day will involve working with accountants at corporations, or management accountants, so I wanted to have a really strong management accounting structure that will support me in my career. Further, I know that the topics on the CMA exam contain many overlaps with the Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) portion of the CPA exam, so I thought it would be a wonderful idea to sort of knock out both exams in a short period. My success with the CMA exam actually helped me to score a 94 on the BEC exam recently!
What are your top test-taking and study tips?
I took a nontraditional route to studying for the CMA exams because of my time commitments to my master’s of accounting program and teaching assistant position. Those two things kept me very busy. Still, I studied about 100 hours over winter break for Part 1 and about 100 hours throughout the first half of the spring semester for Part 2.
My main tip for the exam is simply to put the time in (and actually record it, if you can – I developed an Excel spreadsheet for this very purpose). I remember reading studies about some of the top certification exams (CMA, CPA, etc.) and how the pass rates were almost directly correlated with the amount of time the test taker studied. Put the hours in (and real hours, with no disruptions), and you will undoubtedly pass. I took the recommended study time and times it by 1.5 and used that as a study hour goal. It personally gave me a lot of confidence knowing for a fact that I had put significant time into preparing for the exam.
What would you say is the best way to let your friends/classmates know about the value of the CMA?
I think the best way to let my classmates know about the value of the CMA is by expressing the impact on future job opportunities (success stories from current CMA members) and salary increases.
What are you most looking forward to as you begin your accounting career?
One of the things I’m most looking forward to in starting my accounting career is working with and learning from the talented Deloitte professionals in the San Francisco office. Considering how innovative this city is and the sheer depth of Fortune 500 companies headquartered here, I feel unbelievably honored and grateful for this opportunity. Further, I’m excited for the work itself because forensics is my passion and I can’t wait to learn more with each new engagement that I'm staffed on! Truly, though, after five years of education, I am just so ready to get out there and apply what I’ve learned to the real world. Overall, I'm excited to experience new cities, meet new people, and grow professionally over the coming years, and I will be forever appreciative of the role that the CMA played in shaping me professionally.
For more information on the CMA Scholarship, please visit this link.