BONUS | Rob Mars - The Global Passport

July 31, 2020 | 9 Minutes

Rob Mars, business owner, part-time CFO and advisor, and former IMA Global Board member, joins Count Me In to talk about why he considers the CMA certification a "global passport" in business. Rob has extensive experience as a senior Finance executive in Maritime, Transportation and Offshore, with international exposure through Asia regional positions in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore. He also held global roles in London and Rotterdam. Until December 2019, he was the Executive Director for Sinokor Group (Tanker, Bulk, Container shipping) in Seoul, South Korea. Rob says the CMA designation helped him at the start of his career working in an US multinational corporation and allowed him to fulfill his desire for further education and career advancement. As we recently heard in another bonus episode, CMAs continue to create and add value to their organizations; Rob emphasizes how all this is true, and on a global scale! Download and listen now.

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Adam: (00:00)
Welcome back to Count Me In. IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. I'm your host, Adam Larson, and today I'm sharing with you another bonus episode in our series. As hopefully you've recently heard on our podcast IMA's Senior Vice President of Certifications and Exams and Content Integration, Dennis Whitney, joined us again to talk about how IMA responded to the challenging times, brought by COVID-19 and share some updates on sitting for the CMA exam. In that conversation, he also mentioned how CMA's have been able to help their organizations, weather the storm across the globe, which is a perfect segue for today's episode, where we will hear from Rob Mars and experienced financial executive and proponent of IMA CMA certification. Rob talks about the value of having a CMA and validates many of the points made by Dennis in our previous episode. Rob referred to the CMA as your global passport. So keep listening to hear what that means and other insights from this experienced management accountant.

Mitch: (01:09)
When we first spoke, we Identified the CMA as really being this global credential. So in your opinion, how has the CMA really helped you from the start of your career to where you are now?

Rob: (01:23)
Long time ago in the eighties, I started my finance career with Borg Warner. I joined this American multinational as a financial analysist in the European head office in Amsterdam. It was a great organization to work for. Plenty of room for development, with young people, senior jobs, and a strong emphasis on financial reporting, performance analysis and forecasting. I do still recall we put lots of hours into variance analysis and filling up the ROI chart. One of the seniors in the finance division in the US was the key promoter of the CMA, and Borg Warner was also a corporate supporter of IMA. I decided to go for the CMA. At the time, it was still a five-part exam. I had to travel to the US. I remember driving with our Finance Director to Columbus, Ohio, to attend the exam together, and it went well, and onthea way back, you know, I was tasting my first root beer. That was a different taste. I was keen to study for further develop, but a full postgraduate study, found to have it. So CMA was a good choice for me. It gave me a good overview of relevant topics. It gave me training and practical tools for my work, and it gave me more understanding of the US context. In our company we had many CMAs, and the fact that we had gone through the same training also helped us to work across borders and communicate. We had a common language and understood each other better when we discussed things like breakeven, contribution margin, variable costing, absorption costing, financial analysis, etcetera. And if we got in doubt, we could either refer to the same textbooks. So it was a good way to, to work across the borders.

Mitch: (03:21)
So that leads us very nicely into the next question here. You know, you referred to the CMA as a passport. So what do you really mean by that and how is this really, an international credential?

Rob: (03:37)
Yeah. What, I worked for seven years with Borg Warner after I joined Nedloyd, an international shipping company. And after two years in the Netherlands, I moved to Tokyo with my family. Later, we moved on to Hong Kong, London in Singapore and South Korea as well. So we enjoyed working and living in Asia and Europe and meeting new people and learning from different cultures. But when it comes to CMA at the time, it was all very different in my home country. When I did my CMA exam, there was no Netherlands chapter, no CMA exam site at all. I got my CMA in 88. To get a university, free university in Amsterdam, we managed to start an exam site first as a trial, and then they started a CMA review course. It's great to see it for more than 25 years, they have run it successfully. And now over two separate CMA training courses, one in Dutch and one in English. Amsterdam is the largest chapter in Europe. Right now, you can find chapters in many more countries. It's a good way to meet like minded finance professionals and network and learn from their experiences. All those countries didn't have them when I lived there. Now more than half of IMA membership is outside of the US. They are fairly active region offices, Amsterdam, Dubai, Singapore, China is truly global now. This is an incredible achievement, and I'm glad to be part of this.

Mitch: (05:11)
What exactly do all of these chapters have in common when it comes to management accounting, and what are these professionals have to offer with their CMA that really add value to their businesses?

Rob: (05:25)
What I find with the CMA, it's a part I like, you know, I always love to work on management accounting sideof finance. I have a great respect for all those who are experts in statutory and financial accounting, but I enjoyed the business part role more. I find it important to have people in the team who are experts in both fields. I saw that we could add value to the business with things like decision support and quotation tools, financial analysis, customer product profitability, performance measurement, etcetera. With this we could help steer the business and create more value added. At the time in my team, many people were trained in CPA, local CPA, mostly. And the benefits of those is that you learn the statutory texts and, financial reporting, focused on your own country. The difference with the CMA, you know, business and management, accounting, financial analysis is very of global. It's very international.

Mitch: (06:39)
So what additionally, working with IMA and the different chapters that holding the CMA, you know, volunteering all the work that you do. Now you're a global board member. What personally do you want to share as far as your perspective on IMA and everything that it's done for you and your career?

Rob: (07:03)
Good point. So another aspect I enjoyed very much being part of this IMA family. As I mentioned before, IMA  was in my early days, pretty much US focused and centered. Now with a substantial presence in the regions and more than half of our members live outside the US and IMA Board we also have now a more diverse and international members. To meet up with chapter leaders, and members from countries all over the world during conferences is great and I find very valuable. Apart from such networking, I also believe that as an IMA volunteer, gives you an opportunity to train and practice leadership skills, it is an intangible benefits, and truly rewarding. You can start in a local chapter or getting involved into regional or global board or a technical committee. There's a lot to choose from if you want to put yourself into a volunteering role . I  really get delighted to hear from young people, students, young professionals, how CMA is helping them in a career developmet. It's very encouraging. They could improve their harness skills by being part of his IMA community and connect with like minded people from the world. It's great to see this happening.

Closing: (08:17)
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