Thomas FranclThomas Francl has dedicated considerable time over the past decade doing outreach to promote IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) at educational institutions in New Mexico and California. His approach provides some insightful suggestions for other academics seeking to spread the message about the association and the value of the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification.

Francl, a CMA for 35 years, has been teaching since 1965; currently, he’s an associate faculty member at National University in Albuquerque. He’s also been a long-time and active member of the IMA Albuquerque Chapter, and previously the San Diego Chapter, where he’s served as director of academic partnerships and is now the chapter secretary. In these roles, Francl has proven an enthusiastic and devoted IMA champion.

He’s been a Campus Influencer “since even before the program started,” he says. “I consider it both a privilege and a responsibility to help the next generation.”

As part of this effort, Francl has spoken to students in his own classes (both undergraduate- and graduate-levels), where he takes a novel approach to discussing management accounting: He shows students IMA’s TV commercial and talks about threats to the profession. Then, he poses a question:

“I ask the students if they’re scared – scared about pursing this career. Then I ask if they want to find a way to alleviate their anxiety, and how to get and keep a job. Then, I tell them about the CMA.”

Francl reports that most of his students are CPA hopefuls and so, it’s eye-opening when they see all the careers that are available in management accounting. Then, he gives them the kicker: “The CPA may get you an interview, or even a job, but the CMA is going to show you how to do that job.”

In addition to speaking to his own students, Francl also does outreach to student groups at the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State. The latter school is in Las Cruces, N.M., a three-hour drive away, but making the sacrifice is worth it to Francl. He does eight presentations a year in New Mexico.

As part of those talks, Francl offers advice to students as they begin their professional journeys. He tells students that they need to have printed business cards (to be able to give out to prospective employers and contacts). He also tells them they need to have an “elevator pitch” – a brief, spoken summary of their background and experience. He also makes sure to emphasize the importance of soft skills in today’s competitive job market.

As a CMA since 1983, Francl understands the value of the certification, which is why he also strongly promotes the CMA Scholarship among his students. “I tell them that if they’re just finishing school, they should take the exams as soon as possible while the material is still fresh,” he notes.

To speak about the CMA, he uses an unusual analogy: “I compare students without the CMA to a bar of soap, one of 800 that Google displays. Why would you want to be a just any bar of soap? Don’t you want to stand out from the competition?”