Many of us have invested time and effort in our education. This may include years, even decades, of higher education; credentialing, such as the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification; and practical experience. Others haven’t left the classroom and have taken the challenge of stepping into the shoes of an instructor, preparing students for the CMA exam, medical boards, or even the state bar.

What’s the difference between the preschooler, the tween starting middle school, and our esteemed CMA candidates? And what about you, the working professional, the financial analyst at a Fortune 100, or the CFO for your local business? The answer: nothing. While the former are students mastering concepts like shapes and letters, iPads and algebra, and the payback method, respectively, working professionals are already adept at learning from their environment, network, and stakeholders, to name a few, and are automatically applying this knowledge to their career or personal lives. This is the life of a CMA—the life of IMA® members. And now IMA is also giving CMAs a chance to anchor these strategic planning and analysis skills into a newly minted global credential, the CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis).

With each step of our educational journey, we aspire to challenge ourselves to give the best value proposition to those we serve. For the CMA, that business value is in taking what we know and creating policy, aka strategy; placing our organizations in a superior position called competitive advantage; and tactically executing the former while continually and objectively benchmarking our progress and lessons learned to create an even stronger value proposition. No one ever thought we CMAs were finished learning—and earning—our value proposition. So say hello to the CSCA candidates, who are ready to earn this new competency. This month they will be the first to sit for the exam.

Whether you’re just beginning your journey as a management accountant—or have logged many miles as an experienced professional—I encourage you to continue challenging yourself, stretching beyond what’s comfortable or familiar. Whether that means becoming a CMA, earning your CSCA, or pursuing another advanced credential: Don’t get off that school bus.

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