After learning more about IMA, I chose to go to Roberts Wesleyan College in New York, which runs a specialized program for those pursuing the CMA. My college advisor, Dr. Daniel Barlow, CMA, CPA, helped me on this journey—both in solidifying a strong ethical core and in improving my understanding of accounting.
Right after I joined IMA, I took Part 1 of the CMA exam during my junior year, then Part 2 during my senior year. I benefited from the flexibility of the CMA exam structure, which allowed me to complete the exam during my undergraduate years. Although the exam is one of the most challenging accounting and finance exams, its configuration removes artificial barriers by not setting strict prerequisites, unlike other certifications. This helped me prioritize depth of understanding over rote learning, which has allowed me to grow and succeed in my career and personal life.
Further supporting the practical needs of the industry, the CMA allows for concurrent preparation for other certifications. In my case, I started taking the CPA exam shortly after graduation. Despite a full-time commitment to my employer, a CPA firm, I passed all four parts of the CPA exam within six months. This gave me a head start on tackling the challenges of the profession.
After graduation, my first job was with a small international CPA firm located in New York City. Due to the firm’s multinational commitments, I have been privileged to work in diverse environments spanning various disciplines and cultures. Although I had no idea what expertise I would need or what work I would do, I always felt that the CMA exam would prepare me for all kinds of challenges I might face by teaching and then testing core foundational skills. As a CMA, which I became in 2018, I have been able to add value to the firm by proposing new ways to approach its engagements, from audit to consulting work.
IMA has also offered a wide-ranging network of contacts for the crucial social dimension of professional growth. When I attended a meeting of IMA’s New York Chapter, I met seasoned professionals from practices touching all sectors of the economy. It was inspiring to absorb the enthusiasm of my fellow members as they engaged with the broader community through the prism of accounting.
This community has already helped me in a concrete way: Shortly after this chapter meeting, I was able to connect with another CMA working with Deloitte & Touche, and this set off a chain of events that led to my own pending employment there. I want to express my thanks to this amazing group of people.