Eric MauerEric Mauer’s career is off to a great start. For the past five years, he’s been working at Cummins Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of power generation products headquartered in Columbus, Ind. It’s been quite a journey, which began with a summer internship in college and included earning his CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification.

Eric’s path to the CMA began while a college student at Purdue University, where he was an Accounting major with a concentration in MIS. In 2011, his professor suggested that Eric attend the IMA Student Leadership Conference, which that year was held in nearby Cincinnati. Eric decided to attend and also to submit his résumé for consideration for an interview with Cummins.

Eric must have impressed the people at Cummins, because he was invited to become a corporate finance systems intern for the summer of 2012. The next year, he was asked to intern again, this time for a related position that also included travel to China to assist with the launch of a new financial system. When the time came to interview for full-time jobs, Eric received a great offer from Cummins, to become part of its competitive Financial Development Program (FDP), which started in late February 2014.

With a job offer in hand, Eric had a great idea: He graduated from Purdue in December 2013 and had about three months before his full-time position started. Why not use that time to prepare for and take both parts of the CMA exam? It was certainly a recommendation of Eric’s mentors at Cummins.

“I believe that Cummins is very supportive of professional certifications,” Eric explained. “Many FDPs try to pass the tests for their certification while still a part of FDP. Many prior FDPs either had a CMA or CPA, and since I definitely was never interested in auditing and tax, the CMA was the obvious choice for me.”

Eric’s study schedule was rigorous: He spent about 10 hours a day studying during those months. Luckily for him, he was already in study mode: “Most of my friends at Purdue were still students, so I just thought of it as another, highly intensive class that I had to do well in.” And while many folks would consider that focus too much, it worked for Eric: “I definitely found it easier to do all at once, rather than drag it out for a year or two.”

For those preparing for the exam, Eric offered some helpful advice.

First, don’t underestimate the essays; make sure you know your material. Second, communicate with your boss that you’re preparing for a big exam. “He or she can’t help you if they don’t know it’s happening. By letting them know, you can, I hope, prevent them from loading you up with some huge project during this time.” Third, stay focused. Consider uninstalling the email app on your phone to eliminate distractions while you’re studying.

Eric became a CMA (after he got his two years of work experience) in 2015 and most recently, was selected to participate in the Young Professional Leadership Experience, which brought outstanding young professionals to the IMA Board of Directors meeting in San Antonio last fall.

Among the things he enjoys most about being a CMA? “I so appreciate the CPE that is required. I think it forces you to learn about the newest and best things on an ongoing basis, especially ethics. It makes you a better employee and a better professional,” Eric said.