IMA’s Campus Influencer program continues to expand at U.S. colleges and universities. The program began in January 2016, inspired by the dedicated on-campus outreach of Jimmie Smith, CPA, who passed away last year. His legacy lives on, as the program 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. 

The program has grown considerably since its earliest days, when it started as a pilot program with approximately 40 volunteers. Currently, the program has over 200 volunteers and in 2019 alone, these volunteers reached more than 3,800 students through 70 presentations at more than 100 schools. 

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. 

Continuing the Texas Tradition 

Among the dedicated volunteers behind the program is Michael Lovelace, CMA, CPA, CISA, who serves as a CFO advisor and consulting director at Vaco San Antonio, an advisory firm. Lovelace also currently serves as VP of membership of the IMA San Antonio Chapter, and he’s been a Campus Influencer since 2016.

“Jimmie, also a proud Texan, was someone who always encouraged others to get involved, and when I saw him reach out asking for volunteers to speak to students, I decided to step up. I had always been supportive of my alma mater, Baylor University, so I decided to say yes,” Lovelace says.

Lovelace’s presentations to student groups at Baylor have continued since then. He’s also spoken at numerous other schools in Texas, mainly in the San Antonio area but also at Texas A&M International in Laredo and Texas State in San Marcos.

He doesn’t mind the traveling: “It’s exciting to tell students that there are other options besides the public accounting track. As a CPA and CMA myself, I can attest to the way both credentials offer advantages. I frequently tell students, ‘As a consultant, I may get the work because I’m a CPA, but I’m able to do the work because I’m a CMA.’”

Lovelace is quick to point out that he’s not doing this by himself. He is part of an enthusiastic team that is always open to new volunteers with two easy ways to be involved in the presentations: just coming along on the visit or being responsible for a small handful of slides from the presentation.

“It’s a great way to get them involved with a low-risk ask. Having more than one person make the presentation also gives the students more than one person to connect to and identify with,” he explains.

Lovelace encourages educators to consider inviting or reaching out to their IMA local chapter if they don’t have a Campus Influencer who reaches out to them. “From my perspective, it’s an important part of the education for the students, to let them know about the management accounting career option. Even in the midst of this pandemic, we can still do remote presentations. It also gives professors a break from teaching for a period.” 

Contact for more information if you’re interested in the program and, especially for academic members and even students, if you would like a Campus Influencer to come speak to your students or student group.