Five accomplished students recently had the opportunity to participate in high-level meetings of IMA’s Global Board of Directors as part of the IMA® Student Leadership Experience. This year’s event took place in Austin, Texas, on February 20-22, with the following students in attendance. All were from schools endorsed under the IMA Higher Education Endorsement Program:
  • Marcus Hendrickson, Washington State University - Vancouver
  • Deanna Kennedy, Illinois State University
  • Ryan Miggin, Dixie State University
  • Kyle Nordhagen, Brigham Young University
  • Katelyn Swails Smith, Clemson University

Participants in this year?s Student Leadership Experience

Pictured above are participants in this year’s Student Leadership Experience [l. to r.]: Deanna Kennedy; Ryan Miggin; Kyle Nordhagen; Marcus Hendrickson; and Katelyn Swails Smith.

The experience began on Thursday with a tour of the Texas State Capitol and a meeting with accounting and finance professionals from the Office of the Comptroller. The next day, students attended a breakfast with the IMA Global Board and sat in on select committee meetings, including the Committee on Ethics; the Volunteer Leadership Committee; and the combined Planning and Development and Performance, Oversight, and Audit Committees. New this year: Students were paired with a “Board Buddy” to help them navigate the on-site experience and stay in touch afterwards. 

As part of the Committee on Ethics meeting, the students helped select the winner of the 2020 Carl Menconi Ethics Case Writing Competition, “Southwest Hospice.” [See related story in this issue.]

Later on Friday, the students heard a presentation by Mitch Roshong, IMA senior manager of educational products, titled “So You Think You Can Present?” Roshong shared insights and best practices on how to become a better public speaker and presenter.

On the final day, the participants shared breakfast with the Global Board. Later, they got to witness governance in action by sitting in on the Global Board of Directors meeting, followed by a special recognition luncheon. 

Deanna Kennedy will graduate from Illinois State in 2020 with a BS/MPA in Accountancy and Information Systems. To her, the best part of the experience was “having the opportunity to network with professionals from all walks of the profession.” 

Explaining the other benefits of the experience, Kennedy said it “afforded me a glimpse into many facets of the professional world. Because the Global Board is composed of individuals with experience in public accounting, accounting and finance industry roles, academia, and nonprofits, there was a wealth of knowledge available from all around the world. This experience gave me the opportunity to gain different points of view about where the profession has been, how it is evolving, and where it is heading in the next few years.”

Katelyn Swails Smith, who will earn her BS in Accounting from Clemson University this year, echoed similar sentiments, noting, “This experience showed me that not only is the CMA or being an IMA member for those in management accounting but they are for anyone in the business world. Meeting with individuals from different work experience backgrounds opened my eyes to see that you can really take management accounting into nearly any field of work.”

She also appreciated how the members helped the students plug in to other professionals who they thought would be beneficial to their future careers. Said Swails Smith, “I spoke with someone who learned I was a Clemson student and then they introduced me to a Clemson alumnus. I also spoke with someone about how my husband is a Marine and how I wanted to possibly pursue federal employment – so they introduced me to people who were currently in military positions or had previous military/federal employment experience. The willingness of everyone to help was more than I could have asked for.”

According to Kennedy, the experience has motivated her to continue to strive for excellence as she transitions to her professional career. “It has inspired me to connect with others and showed me that we all learn from each other. I learned that we all have unique qualities and experiences and if we are receptive to other perspectives, it helps us better understand ourselves.” 

That was also a key take-away for Kyle Nordhagen, a MAcc student at Brigham Young University, who especially valued seeing how the Board operated and how decisions were discussed during the meetings. “I want to take what I learned about having the confidence to make tough decisions into my career,” he said. “Further, I want to take what I learned about networking into my career as well. The professionals I met are in different stages of their careers and work for companies across the globe. It showed me the importance of always connecting with people and keeping those connections strong.”

Kennedy aptly summed up the benefits of the Student Leadership Experience: “As students, it’s easy to get bogged down in school responsibilities and is difficult to envision what will come next. This opportunity provides students a chance to interact with and hear stories from a wide array of professionals and to see the importance of staying involved with organizations like IMA after graduation.”