IMA’s “CMAs Making a Difference” series spotlights valued members of the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) community who are making a difference to their organization, to the profession, and to their world. This issue’s featured CMA is:
I received my CMA in April 1996. At the time, I was working at IBM as a senior financial analyst, and I viewed earning the certification as critical if I wanted to continue my career with the company. As things would have it, I left IBM several years later to pursue a career in ministry. I spent 15 years serving in the local church before coming to my current position, which requires me to oversee the financial operations of a large foundation. The CMA is, and has always been, critical to my thinking, despite the fact that there is very little in my current job dealing with traditional “cost accounting,” my original impetus for getting certified. Plus, I’m glad it’s a recognized certification, as it gives me the ability to speak with a certain level of authority.
Can you share something specific that the CMA has enabled you to do?
Having a financial background has been tremendously valuable in my work both as a pastor and an administrator. The ability to read a balance sheet, set and understand budgets, speak with auditors, and understand stock valuations – all of these skills allowed me to be a better leader and decision maker. And the importance of financial matters can’t be overstated. I sometimes tell young ministers in training: “You won’t get fired if you preach a bad sermon, but you will get fired if someone’s embezzling from you” – meaning, it’s the financial side of things that can get you in trouble, even more than the philosophical ones.
Please describe how you have been able to contribute to “the greater good” of your community, society, or the profession as a CMA.
In my life, I’ve tried to be guided by the idea that if you believe in what you’re doing and believe you’re making a difference, then you can walk away knowing you left something better than it was before. I would hope that my job as a church foundation administrator serves the “greater good” of my community. At the same time, I’m also proud to serve on the board of directors of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, which is a residential program for at-risk youth across Florida. I am honored to be a part of this nonprofit organization, which is truly changing lives. I’m pleased to be able to bring my knowledge of finance and investing to help the organization make better business decisions.
Is there a moment or experience that you’re particularly proud of as a personal or professional accomplishment?
I would have to say earning my Eagle Scout, which definitely taught me the value of perseverance. It’s a hard thing to accomplish when you’re that age – 15, 16 – with many other conflicting priorities in your life. It taught me how to stick with something, which is a skill I’ve found to be useful in many other aspects of my life.
What advice would you give to someone looking for a career/job in accounting or finance where they can make a difference?
Probably the best piece of advice I ever received – and it’s something that I share with young people I work with – is this: You can’t make a long-term decision based on short-term pain. To me, that means you sometimes have to cut through the immediate difficulties and try to see the bigger picture.
It’s also true that the field of accounting and finance is changing very quickly, and that makes it an exciting area to work in. At the same time, you must be prepared to be a lifelong learner to stay current.
Know someone who’s a CMA making a difference? Let us know! Please reach out to email@example.com with your suggestions.