Charlie Wright is CFO of the Denver Zoo – and a CMA® (Certified Management Accountant). His career journey toward leading the finance function for one of the nation’s leading zoological foundations began when he decided to sit for the CMA exam. 

“I sat for both the CPA and CMA exams a month apart as I was graduating with my MBA from Vanderbilt,” says Charlie. Having studied courses which branched beyond the core accounting classes, Charlie sought to both expand his skillset and show his expertise through certification. 

Now a CFO, Charlie speaks of how being the chief finance professional within an organization makes him draw on the skills associated with the CMA every day. “I think the skills required in both parts of the CMA exam are used by every CFO in the technical aspects of his or her position,” he says. And the demands of a CFO position go beyond reporting, budgeting, and forecasting. 

To be a CFO, Charlie says, you need to “oversee a proper system of internal controls to safeguard company assets and ensure proper reporting of transactions. You must make appropriate investments in technology and embrace analytics to measure the organization’s progress against goals and report those properly to stakeholder groups. You must invest in proper insurance coverages and oversee safety and security practices that will properly protect against risk management issues (such as cybersecurity threats). You must work with proper advisors and experts to continually make and adjust sound investments for the success of the organization, etc.” These responsibilities require strategic acumen and management skills, which are covered by the CMA. 

Nonprofit organizations can benefit enormously from the expertise and commitment of CMAs who combine mastery of core finance competencies with a desire to help make the world a better place. And as Charlie’s experience shows, the CMA is the launching pad not just for a successful career but for a lifetime of giving back to the community and to the causes dear to one’s heart. 

For more information about the CMA, please visit www.imanet.org/cma-certification.