To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program, this year we’re spotlighting members of the CMA community from around the world. This issue’s featured CMA is: 

Purnima   Name:  Purnima Mishra, CMA, CA, IRM
 Company:  The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
 Title:  Chief Accountant
 Location:  Geneva, Switzerland


How did you learn about the CMA and what made you decide to pursue it?

As a qualified chartered accountant, I was confident in my financial accounting and auditing skills. While working for the American Red Cross in Sri Lanka, however, I realized the need to further enhance my management accounting and strategic financial management skills. Someone at the national headquarters in Washington D.C. suggested the CMA. After reviewing the course structure and learning outcome statements, I appreciated how the certification process was well paced and the academic material was sequentially structured. I also was impressed by the persistent impetus and importance placed on professional ethics at all times. So, the CMA became an immediate and obvious choice. Not only did I complete my certification, but I also encouraged my husband to take it up too. Today, we are both proud of this achievement.

How has being a CMA helped you advance in your career?

As a CMA, I find myself more confident linking the organizational strategy with the corporate financial statements, KPIs/performance management, risk management, and governance reporting. The certification has definitely widened my thought process beyond the pure accounting aspects and moved me towards deep and strategic analytical thinking. It has brought me closer to the core operational and strategic challenges, giving me better understanding and appreciation of organizational decision-making rationales.

Besides the technical aspects of my job, the CMA has tremendously helped me build my leadership skills too. IMA provides opportune platforms for its members to engage in several capacities. I’ve served on the Swiss Chapter Board for four years now. I began with the newsletter, which enriched my content development and research abilities. Later, I moved on to strategic development, where I consistently built on my professional engagements, gaining confidence with project management and public speaking at several membership events. Reflecting now, I realize how seamless my abilities are in quick decision making, as connecting the dots and risk taking were nurtured and built. Above all, it was the kindness and collaboration from fellow professionals outside of my work environment. This willingness to learn, share, and collaborate readily is humbling.

What’s your proudest career milestone as a CMA?

October 2019 in Munich. I was only meant to attend the Women’s Accounting Leadership Series, but IMA made it very special for me by presenting me with a special recognition award. The vivid memory of receiving the award from IMA Global Board Chair Ginger White still brings the adrenaline to go the extra mile.

What’s the best piece of advice you would give to CMA hopefuls?

Be curious and engage in the development and implementation of your organizational strategy. Volunteer in important game-changing projects in your workplace, learn how KPIs are developed for your core operations and how to link those to your financial indicators, and draft management reports that tell a story about integrating your numbers with the core performance of the organization. This synergy and osmosis will not only bring value to your learning in the certification journey but will also simultaneously strengthen your brand at your workplace too.

What do you predict will be some of the biggest trends of the next 50 years for the accounting profession?

I strongly believe that crisis paves the way for opportunity. I see accounting professionals stepping up across three realms:

  • Systems: The pandemic has made remote working a norm across industries and professions. For accounting professionals, it has propelled the way for AI, RPA, and automation to a revolutionary level. Data privacy and cybersecurity are plausible threats. Who would know this better than us? 
  • Process: The risk landscape has exponentially mutated our work ecosystem to a horizon that demands innovative thinking and continuous improvement. More important than ever, accounting professionals need to upskill themselves to stay current and relevant.
  • People: We all have battled varying degrees of emotions since the onset of this pandemic. I feel we need to be kinder and inclusive. As fellow professionals, trust will be our currency in the years to come. And that trust can only come with respect for diversity, continuous upskilling, and upholding one’s professional integrity. 
Visit the IMA website to learn more about CMA certification.