CMAs Stepping Up: Profile of Paul Coccovillo
In conjunction with IMA’s integrated advertising campaign, we’re spotlighting members of our CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) community who are stepping up in their careers. This month’s featured CMA is:
Name: Paul Coccovillo, CMA, CSCA
Company name: Rhombus Systems, Inc.
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Location: Sacramento, CA
How did you learn about the CMA and what made you decide to pursue it?
I first learned about the CMA shortly after graduating college. As I wasn’t taking the public accounting track, I found the CMA a great fit for my career goals as it focused more on understanding business inputs and outcomes. As I saw myself growing into management, the concepts became more and more applicable to my day-to-day work, and it just seemed like more of a natural fit.
How has being a CMA added value to your career?
Being a CMA has helped me position myself as the process and manufacturing expert within the finance team. This is a very in-demand role on the West Coast, where the visibility typically used to go to the revenue recognition experts when SaaS (Software as a Service) models dominated the market. In the world of IoT (Internet of Things) offerings, companies are realizing they need both contribution from the software side of the house as well as the manufacturing side of the house to drive success.
Can you describe a moment in your professional career when your skills as a CMA were recognized—that you “felt seen” for your expertise and insights?
I remember interviewing for a role that I was referred to by a consultant I had worked with in a prior job. The interviewer said, “I hear you’re the person to talk to about our problem.” I realized at that point I had created a name for myself in solving for the business challenges this very company was facing, and what’s more, my reputation preceded me, which is the most you can ask for heading into an interview. The interview was easy at that point as we focused on what direct impact I could provide and how the interviewer could put me in the best possible position to deliver on those results.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to CMA hopefuls?
Always focus on the process as a whole, not just the math. I have come across many unsuccessful CFOs who stay buried in the numbers and can’t explain why the results are the way they are. The most successful leaders I’ve worked with can always link the results back to specific actions being taken (or not being taken) in the organization. Successful leaders reward those who drive the positives and they hold accountable the ones who drive the negatives. Learning the cause and effect of how an organization works is the fastest way to drive change to the top and bottom lines. Also, supplement your skills with other complimentary certifications—for me, that’s been the CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) certification, or consider a Six Sigma or supply chain-related certification.
What do you predict will be some of the biggest trends of the next 10 years for the accounting profession and how do you think the CMA has prepared you to meet them?
The accounting profession is in a state of flux right now with a variety of new standards coming out that will drive more questions than answers in the short term. Over the next few years, companies will be struggling to look back in time and understand if they’re doing better or worse than prior periods. The role of the CMA to step up and deliver meaningful reporting outside of the financials will be more important than ever. The ability to mix operational metrics and results to strengthen the financial statements will be important to critical decision making and successful long-term planning.
Please visit the IMA website to learn more about the CMA certification.