The decision to stop studying would have been too easy, so I decided to push forward. The advantages of a CMA certification outweighed the disadvantages: earning a prestigious credential and standing out from my peers vs. devoting more time to tests and spending less time with my family. As an aspiring leader, I knew that failure wasn’t an option. I stumbled across the CMA while studying for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam. Working in the manufacturing industry, I saw the CMA as an added bonus. As a CPA, I had an advantage, but the CMA would maximize my potential. The knowledge I obtained while preparing for the exam was invaluable. The exam requires candidates to apply theory to real-world situations. Based on my personal experiences, individuals who take the CMA exam don’t need to be subject matter experts in a specific area, but it’s necessary to have general knowledge of a topic and an understanding of the big picture.

I started my CMA journey in 2010 and earned the credential in 2011. At the time, I was a tax accountant specializing in state and local tax (SALT). Today, I’m a SALT leader at Albemarle Corporation, responsible for sales/use tax, property tax, incentives, and Canadian tax. Some people may assume my job mostly includes completing/reviewing tax returns, reading tax statutes, and determining taxability on the company’s purchases, but it also includes solving problems, providing recommendations to management, and analyzing issues. Undoubtedly, my communication skills are just as important as my technical expertise. Communicating decisions, results, or recommendations effectively is an essential part of my duties.

Pursing the CMA enabled me to evaluate differences in short-term goals from a forecasting and cost perspective. Understanding how cost affects the bottom line and ultimately a company’s overall financial statements enabled me to evaluate long-term goals. The ability to evaluate both sides of a situation and determine possible alternatives is essential to any company.

While my previous IMA chapter in New Orleans is being revitalized, I’ve been an active reader of Strategic Finance and a participant in various leadership webinars. As an IMA member, I have access to resources such as the Leadership Academy and PowerPacks. All of these resources aid in my career development and enhance my leadership qualities. I always tell my peers about the value the CMA brings to financial professionals.

I challenge you to think outside the box when it comes to your career. Determine your “it” and move forward. Identify areas of interest that relate to your job. Research what certifications or technical training may be available. You may not need the skills today, but tomorrow will come sooner than you think.

About the Authors