I first encountered the CMA as an independent bookkeeper in Vancouver, Canada, in 2008. At that time, I was still a poor international student struggling to pay the rent and to cover tuition. I did this for several coffee stores and restaurants, and I filed personal tax returns for other students.

Finding a suitable full-time job is often difficult for international students, and my greatest wish was to be an auditor at a local accounting firm after graduation. As my client list grew, I realized that I have a talent in communication rather than accounting techniques, and I decided that I should capitalize on that. So I spent more time finding clients while subcontracting detailed work to several of my classmates.

Revenue rose at a tremendous speed, but internal control problems appeared at the same time. Running my own business was a different world for me, and management accounting and governance became critical. After consulting with my instructors and researching all available accounting credentials, I finally chose the CMA because it would provide the knowledge and career resources that suited me best.

After coming back to China several years later, I was amazed by the expanded presence of IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) in my home country. With the introduction of Chinese-language exams, the CMA is now one of the most popular certifications among students, with or without accounting backgrounds. If the current trend continues, I think it won’t be long until IMA is the largest international accounting body in China.

In my consulting for SMEs, I find that many of them lack sufficient management accounting functions, which leads to internal problems similar to those with my first company in Vancouver. Sometimes I suggest the owners and startup leaders earn the CMA credential themselves.

The CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) is another great credential suitable for CMAs since strategy and competitive analysis are always among the top priorities for SMEs.

I actively participate in IMA activities, both in China and internationally. I’m a judge of the China student case competition; a translation reviewer of Strategic Finance, Chinese edition; and also a mentor for peer IMA members. If you have any questions regarding doing business and working in China, I’ll be more than willing to help you.

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