CMA Scholarship Profile: Kallan Webster
Kallan Webster knew he wanted to be a management accountant from practically the moment he learned about the subject. “As soon as I had my first course on the topic, I knew it was what I wanted to do with my professional life—to help a company grow, to find ways to cut costs, to be involved in strategic decisions.”
Kallan is living his dream: Having earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics in 2019 (and his master’s degree in accounting in 2021), he’s now the CFO of Big Storage Ventures, a self-storage company in southwest Utah. He helps to identify investment opportunities and acquisitions, plus analyzes supply and demand for the company’s products/services.
Kallan was fortunate to be a recipient of the CMA Scholarship, a program that he learned about in the fall of his junior year at Utah Tech University. His managerial accounting professor took an interesting approach to selecting students for the scholarship: Students in the class studied for and took a CMA practice exam and the two students who earned the highest scores were awarded the scholarship. Kallan was disappointed by the results: “I worked so hard on studying but I just had a bad testing day. I didn’t score in the top two.”
He didn’t give up, though. He went to his professor’s office after the exam and told him, “I want to be a CMA.” So they struck a deal: If Kallan performed better than the students in the next semester who took the practice CMA exam, the professor would nominate him for the scholarship. It worked.
Kallan took Part 1 of the CMA exam in his senior year, during the January/February testing window. He studied hard that fall semester: He used the Gleim study materials he had received as part of the scholarship. He also set a test date, which helped him to organize his time and made sure he had “some skin in the game.” He then took Part 2 in the spring.
Describing his study routine, Kallan noted, “I was very methodical in my approach. I divided the entire Gleim book into subsections and figured out how many pages I needed to study a day to get through the entire thing. I took it in bite-sized pieces, which helped to make it manageable.”
The effort he put into taking the exam clearly paid off when he was starting to look for his first full-time position. In his first job, as a senior accountant at Enterprise Holdings, the vice president of finance who interviewed him understood the value of the certification and was very much impressed by his already having taken the exam. “It definitely gave me an advantage,” Kallan recalls. “I was already a step ahead of other candidates and it helped to set me apart. It was one of the reasons why I was hired.” That manager later told Kallan that she’d “take a CMA over a CPA any day for this job.”
Kallan had some helpful advice for other students who might be interested in the CMA: “Don’t make excuses or blame circumstances for why you don’t have the time or resources for prepare for the exam. Take extreme ownership for your learning and break down what you need to do into manageable chunks. It’s worth it."