|Orin P. Wilson, CMA
|Hamilton, Cherry, Spradlin & Mandrell, Ltd., Accounting
|Little Rock Metro, Arkansas
How did you first come across the CMA and what made you decide to go for it?
The CMA first came to my attention while I was attempting to find solutions for a problem. Throughout life, whether it was school, sports, or just my physical body, I was accustomed to an automatic progression to the next level.
Once I graduated, I realized there was no automatic progression or plan in place to succeed. You were not given a raise or promotion for simply showing up and working for a set number of years. So in reality, graduation was not reaching the top of the mountain but rather crossing the footbridge to get to base camp.
I found myself needing to develop a plan for success. If I could implement a daily strategy to grow and develop skills, increase my education, and control my attitude, then my results would exceed expectations.
The CMA was the ideal starting point for this strategy and proved to be the spark I needed in my journey toward personal growth. As I started working, my resolve became stronger when I met people who couldn’t quite pull their weight but had 4.0 GPAs. On paper, they would have looked better. So I had to separate myself, and the CMA became my focus.
- In what ways has CMA made an impact on your career or professional journey?
The impact was immediate. My former company was a place where people often stayed for 20 years, and it offered little potential for upward mobility. Once I applied to other organizations, I quickly saw that the business community carried respect for the CMA certification and that CMA candidates could be put on a short list during the selection process.
Within a few weeks, I was offered a senior accounting position with a 50% raise in pay. I was actually in disbelief when I asked for this raise, and the hiring manager didn’t blink an eye to my request.
- What is your proudest career moment or milestone as a CMA?
There would be a completely different person sitting here today without my CMA.
My proudest moment was when I realized I could break from the mold. I saw that success is not a destination but rather a mindset: People who seek opportunities to learn and grow tend to succeed. The CMA started this mindset of taking control of my personal growth, and it allowed me to see that going through this process does have real-world value.
Since then, I have been blessed with great clients through our accounting and marketing firms as well as incredible relationships with those involved with our organization. I am also able to serve as chapter president of IMA’s Arkansas Central Chapter. I feel honored with all these roles, but I still look back to the day when my mindset changed as the proudest moment in my career. Without that spark from the CMA, none of this would have been possible.
- What’s the best piece of advice you would give to CMA hopefuls?
Just do it. Giving up a few months of free time to study will be one of the best decisions you make for your career. You don’t have to be stuck at a mid-level accounting position for 10 years when you can earn the CMA certification and instantly increase your marketability.
- For those taking the exam, what study tip(s) can you share?
Look up lectures on YouTube to cover any problem areas. Schedule a daily time for studying and stick with it. I’m currently working on making available on LinkedIn a free, step-by-step CMA exam study guide that I created to help me work through the CMA and CPA exams.
One thing absolutely critical to success is being dedicated to your studying. With two young kids, I faced constant distractions. My wife works nights, so I take care of our two little Tasmanian Devils when she’s away. Most nights, I would not be able to study until after they were asleep at 8:30, and then I’d study three hours. Sometimes I’d use headphones to listen to review materials while I looked after the kids. You might need to get creative with your studying technique; dedication is what will pull you through!
- If you could have one superpower in the world, what would it be?
Time travel. I want to make what I do right now count, so that the person I am 30 years from now can travel back in time and see that I was making the right decisions at this point in my life and that they led to my eventual success. I’d also want to travel back in time so that I can tell aspiring accountants about the CMA.
Share YOUR Story
We’d love to hear your CMA story! Please contact Tiffany Cody, manager of public relations and communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (201) 474-1614.