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How did you first come across the CMA and what made you decide to pursue it?
I was in my third year in college when I took my first management accounting course and first heard of the CMA certification. To my surprise, I enjoyed that course more than my financial accounting courses and I excelled. I still remember the first subject we covered – CVP Analysis. The focus of management accounting partnering with business and crafting the reports for management purposes truly convinced me of the value of the profession. When I was working at Deloitte in 2008, they offered the CMA program. I jumped at the opportunity right away and became the first successful participant of the program to receive my CMA. The fact that the topics discussed in the CMA exam are the questions that I love answering made the decision easier.
- In what ways do you think the CMA has impacted your career or professional journey?
There are a huge number of good accountants in the market. In my view, globally recognized qualifications like the CMA serve as a seal of validation that you actually have the skills you assert to possess. As a qualification that is highly regarded by employers, my CMA made my application more noticeable. Your CV is your marketing tool to get you to the next step of an application process, which is usually an interview. After receiving my CMA, I’d say I received about 95% callback from my applications. The webinars offered by IMA also gave me information about the latest and best practices in the industry. Knowing that I have an updated skillset made me more confident during interviews. This enabled me to move up the career ladder faster than my peers, whether within the organization or to a different one.
- What is your proudest career moment or milestone as a CMA?
I became a CFO at 32. Although I’m also already a CPA and had gained a lot of other knowledge at this point, it’s my CMA that accelerated my career progress. Also, after getting the certification, I forced myself to identify a specific guiding principle in my professional career that would set me apart from the talent pool. I call this the “close and disclose” principle, something that I learned from one of the webinars. Guided by this principle, I always manage to deliver more than what is expected from my role.
- What’s the best piece of advice you would give to CMA hopefuls?
It’s all worth it. Once you receive that three-letter suffix, breathe and live the CMA’s knowledge and values. Remember that the CMA title alone will not completely transform your professional career – you also have to feed it. Take advantage of your access to the webinars, newsletters and other publications, and the social platforms – learn as much as you can. Then ask yourself this: What can I do better today? What do I know that can set me apart?
- For those taking the exam, what study tip(s) can you share?
I’ve used Gleim for both the CMA and CPA exams, so to those who are using the same – trust their system. In general, spend at least two hours each working day on your review and spend more time on weekends. It’s tiring; it can be scary but before you quit, remember again why you started. You accept the things in your life that you do not change, so if you’re studying for the CMA to make a change in your career, then by all means be tired, be scared, but pass that exam anyway.
- What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
Strive to be the best but don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t happen. Most of the time, you only need to be good enough. And that’s fine.
Share YOUR Story
We’d love to hear your CMA story! Please contact Lori Parks, IMA staff writer/editor, at email@example.com or +1 (201) 474-1536.