|Sean Stein Smith, CMA, CPA, DBA
How did you first come across the CMA and what made you decide to go for it?
Shortly after completing my CPA exam, I was looking for a way to differentiate myself in the marketplace. After reviewing the literature and materials related to the CMA exam and IMA, I knew this was a certification I would like to pursue.
The CMA’s focus on using financial information for decision making especially appealed to me, as that is the essence of strategy and higher-level management involvement. Knowing my career goals and researching the value of the CMA, I felt the decision to pursue the certification was an easy one.
- In what ways has CMA made an impact on your career or professional journey?
The CMA has made an impact in two distinct ways. First, by obtaining this credential, I have differentiated myself to organizations, peers, and the market, and this has made me a more well-rounded and successful financial professional.
Second, and equally as important, the broadening of my intellectual horizons through studying for and completing the exam has allowed me to seek out, attain, and make the most of opportunities I might not have even thought of otherwise.
For example, I’ve used the broader base of CMA content to continuously adapt as I have moved from working for a for-profit company, to a nonprofit organization, and now to academia.
- What is your proudest career moment or milestone as a CMA?
Two moments come to mind. In 2015, I was fortunate enough to be selected for the IMA Young Professional Leadership Experience, a program that exposes students and young professionals to the governance structure of IMA. It was held in conjunction with the IMA board meeting in Colorado Springs. Interacting with my fellow young professionals and the board members provided insights, perspectives, and ideas that I continue to use.
In 2016, I had the honor of being selected as a Young Professional of the Year. This award recognizes young professionals for creative approaches to problem-solving within the profession. It was simultaneously exciting and humbling, and something I will be proud of for years to come.
The common theme in both moments is evident—hard work, dedication, and a willingness to try new things are rewarded.
- What’s the best piece of advice you would give to CMA hopefuls?
Make sure you have the time and mental dedication to successfully complete the exam. As the leading global management accounting credential, the exam is rigorous and demanding. That said, with a consistent study plan, support from friends and family, and a dedication to the process, there is no reason why a serious and qualified candidate would be unable to pass the exam.
- For those taking the exam, what study tip(s) can you share?
My study tips and advice are very simple: create a study plan and make sure that you stick to it throughout the exam process. Putting a plan together, being reasonable in your expectations about how much time you actually have to study, and making sure that you stick with the plan throughout the process are essential for successfully completing the CMA exam. Much like business itself, the key ingredients are planning, follow-through, and consistently executing your plans.
- If you could have one superpower in the world, what would it be?
If I had one superpower, it would be the ability to fly; it would cut down on jetlag!
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