With a hefty dose of dedication and a commitment to telling U.S. college students about careers in management accounting, Campus Influencers are making a huge impact on campuses across the country. And there’s plenty of room to join this successful nationwide effort.

The program began in 2016, inspired by the on-campus outreach of long-time member Jimmie Smith, CPA, and currently spearheaded by Chris Aquino, CMA, CFM, CSCA, CPA, IMA’s business development manager. It aims to connect IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) members with college students and share with them information about management accounting careers as well as the benefits of IMA membership and the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification.

Since the program’s inception, the number of members who volunteer as Influencers has grown to more than 170. They’re located in 34 states and have spoken with students on more than 150 college campuses. These Influencers have made approximately 200 presentations and, most impressively, have shared the message with more than 10,000 students.

The program seeks two kinds of volunteers: (1) those who identify and contact colleges, universities, accounting professors, and accounting department chairs; and (2) those who make presentations to accounting classes and student clubs. Sometimes, a Campus Influencer fills both roles, and other times he or she simply makes the presentation from a request received by IMA Global.

Speakers are provided with all the resources they need: a detailed, scripted presentation; supporting documents; and marketing materials. IMA also conducts detailed training sessions for all Campus Influencers to allow those who join the program to get their questions asked and answered.

A West Coast Presence
Among the dedicated volunteers behind the program is Scott Berry, CPA, who is a VP of Finance and controller for a family-owned manufacturing business in Carson City, Nev. Berry currently serves as VP of Membership and Communication in the IMA Reno Area Chapter, and he’s been a Campus Influencer since before the program even started.

Berry is still very closely connected with his alma mater, Cal State Chico, and has for the past six or seven years often driven to campus to meet with the accounting department chair and speak with students. It’s a five-hour drive, but he doesn’t mind.

“Most students think their only alternative is to become a CPA, so I’m happy to tell them about the career benefits of joining IMA and earning their CMA. Interest is growing and I’m glad to spread the word,” he said. Berry originally “ad-libbed” his presentation, but he’s lately received a more positive reception to using the script prepared for Campus Influencers to use. He also is making inroads into the University of Nevada, Reno, which is much closer to him geographically.

For Berry, the experience has been a valuable one: “I see it as my way of giving back to the profession. It’s rewarding to feel like you’re making a difference in students’ lives and helping them to alternatives they may not have considered.”

Check out the article in the August 2018 issue of Strategic Finance, which explains the program in more detail. IMA members interested in becoming Campus Influencers are encouraged to contact Chris Aquino at chris.aquino@imanet.org.