The clerk position in the corporate office doing credit and collections calls was quite a dramatic fall from what I had worked so hard to achieve, but whether I’d realized it or not, I was dramatically specialized. Part of my early career success had occurred because I was willing to work so many hours and go anywhere at any time, but the corporate office didn’t value this trait. The hard truth for me was that I lacked the proper set of skills and business acumen to advance elsewhere.

This was the start of my CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) journey. Equipped with only my associate’s degree and curiosity, I had conversations with every manager who would give me a few minutes. One day, the corporate controller met with me and educated me on the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and the CMA, certifications he held. I studied and researched accounting/finance positions, degrees, and certifications until I had determined my goal of a leadership role in Finance and a path to achieve it.

The first step was two years of night school at Gwynedd Mercy University to complete a bachelor’s degree in business. The bachelor’s degree helped me grow my understanding of business management and teamwork. It was a broader educational progression, but it was important and critical to the next step.

In January 2016, I joined IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) to start the process of becoming a CMA. I chose the IMA/CMA path based on two years of studies and discussions with countless accounting and financial professionals. The content and criteria of the CMA have a superior correlation for the emerging and developing CFO. The material would display my accounting and financial knowledge in the areas that would help maximize a company’s effort to be successful.

I spent the next eight months studying for Part 1 and received my passing score that November. The following year, I again studied for eight months and received my passing score for Part 2 in November 2017. My certification came shortly afterward. It was an amazing feeling to become a CMA and to have completed such an important step.

When you’re a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle, and a friend, life will happen. My second daughter was born in the fall of 2016. Yet throughout it all, I never stopped dreaming of holding that certification and driving myself toward the goal.

Recently I had an interesting revelation about the certification I had dreamed of holding when I was speaking to a group of accounting and finance students at Temple University in Philadelphia. I told them the truth about getting the certification. It’s hanging on a wall in my office and I am proud of it, but it’s just a piece of paper. The real gift, the real prize, was the knowledge, skills, and confidence that I gained from studying for the CMA and the people I met in IMA.

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