|Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE
Director of Diversity and Inclusion
|Ginger White, CMA, CSCA
Fiscal 2018-2019 Global Board Chair
IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) recently appointed its first director of diversity and inclusion, Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE; and a new fiscal 2018-2019 Global Board Chair, Ginger White, CMA, CSCA.
In her new role, Linda will help facilitate, guide, and champion the strategic integration of diversity and inclusion into every aspect of IMA’s member and corporate experience. As Chair, IMA’s most senior volunteer role, Ginger is the fifth woman to hold that position. She works at Cummins Inc. as corporate purchasing finance director.
To help IMA members to get to know both Linda and Ginger better, Inside IMA asked them to reflect on their experiences and plans for their new roles:
What do you consider your greatest career accomplishment?
Ginger: Quitting my full-time job and going to Berea College full time to obtain my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. That decision set me up for many future successes in my career.
Linda: For me, it would be allowing my accounting background to embrace nontraditional roles at nonprofit organizations like IMA. In the future, I’d hope that my greatest accomplishment is being an effective role model for young women beginning their careers in management accounting and other career paths.
Who has been your role model or provided you with inspiration during your career?
Linda: My mother – she was an extremely smart woman who grew up in an era when women were not encouraged to obtain a higher education. She made it very clear to me when I was young that I would go to college and pursue a professional career. Although my mother promised she wouldn’t choose or advise me on my career path, I’m not so sure that she kept that promise: When I was in high school, she shared a New York Times article about how women were pursuing careers in accounting!
What do you see in the future for IMA and how do you hope to help the organization achieve it?
Ginger: IMA continuing to develop significant value for our members and influencing the profession as we navigate the future of disruptive technologies while maintaining our core value of developing the future accounting and finance leaders of tomorrow. I hope to help with this by focusing on ensuring members get more value than expected and are aware of all of the offerings IMA has as part of their membership.
How do you think the opportunities for women in leadership have changed since the start of your career?
Linda: It’s great to see that there are leadership and mentoring programs that encourage women to pursue senior leadership positions at companies of all sizes and industries. Although there's still a gap between men and women in leadership roles, it’s nice to see the gap becoming narrower compared to when I began my career.
Ginger: I’m grateful for all of the women who have gone before me, as they have made it easier. Each generation gets better at the equalization of leaders, regardless of gender. It’s also been interesting to see that both the current CEO and CFO of GM are women. I’m looking forward to watching GM’s stock performance!
If you could give one piece of advice to your “younger self,” what would it be?
Ginger: When I was a student at Berea, I was selected to study abroad in Australia for six months. Through scholarships, I was able to obtain about $3K of the $12.5K bill for tuition and room and board. I tried to convince myself, ‘Do it – you will earn enough to pay it back,’ but I was frugal and didn’t want to graduate with a lot of debt. Looking back now, this was truly a lost opportunity. So, take every opportunity to learn as much as possible, because the rewards will be returned in multiples.
Linda: 'Believe in yourself and go with your first instincts.' I think I would have had fewer challenges with the progression of my career if I had the confidence that I was just as capable to succeed as my male colleagues.