MyCMA: Patricia Mayer
IMA’s “MyCMA” series spotlights valued members of the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) community. Learn about their journey with the certification—and get tips on advancing your own. This issue’s featured CMA is:
|Name:||Patricia Mayer, CMA|
|Company:||Patricia J. Mayer & Associates, LLC|
How did you first come across the CMA and what made you decide to go for it?
When I was in college at Cal State Hayward, my favorite accounting teacher said, “If you ever want three initials after your name that are not CPA, here is the CMA.” I was fascinated and many years later decided to study for it.
At the time, I was the CFO of the YMCA of San Francisco. I was thinking about moving from the nonprofit world to the for-profit space and wanted to prove that I could successfully make this transition. I felt I needed something to differentiate myself and saw the CMA as a way to make myself more marketable.
- In what ways has CMA made an impact on your career or professional journey?
I always credit the CMA for allowing me to climb up the ladder of my career. It opened up many more opportunities and allowed me to move into different industries. Besides boosting confidence, it also added a level of prestige. My boss sent me flowers after I passed, and I also got increased respect from my staff. They liked having a knowledgeable leader.
- What is your proudest career moment or milestone as a CMA?
My proudest career moment was when I was offered the VP of Finance position at Charles Schwab, San Francisco in the late 1990s. I interviewed with them nine times, and I was able to compete with MBAs (and bypass many candidates) using what I’d learned from the CMA.
Whatever technical question they threw at me, I felt confident I could give some kind of answer or offer my reasoning. Knowledge in subjects like budgeting, financial analysis, and microeconomics prepared me well for this global organization.
- What’s the best piece of advice you would give to CMA hopefuls?
Every company needs an accountant. If you really want to contribute to the health of an organization and move into more strategic roles, you need to know beyond just the basic accounting. You need a ‘bumper,’ additional information to prove what you can bring to the table.
The CMA says a lot about a person—you took the time to better yourself and expand your knowledge base. That speaks volumes to employers. Even just studying for this rigorous test will give you more confidence when you interview.
I run my own staffing firm now, and I once worked with a well-known manufacturer as a client. They only wanted to hire CMAs—people who understood product costing, logistics, and other skills required for their financial analyst roles.
- For those taking the exam, what study tip(s) can you share?
Study every day after work for a few hours, take practice tests until you get at least 75% correct, and then go on to the next subject. Study on weekends; I did this for four months and passed all sections in one sitting. The process might seem daunting especially to people working full-time, but know that you can take the exam parts one at a time.
- If you could have one superpower in the world, what would it be?
I’d like the ability to read and comprehend very quickly!
Share YOUR Story
We’d love to hear your CMA story! Please contact Pearl Chen, manager of brand content and storytelling, at email@example.com or (201) 474-1578.