My accounting career began with the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation and a start in public accounting. I worked with a variety of clients in banking, tax, retail, and manufacturing, and quickly realized I was drawn toward those in retail and manufacturing. I followed one of my senior managers to a software/forms manufacturing company, where my interest in manufacturing, supply chain, and management accounting was solidified.

That interest prompted me to become a CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) in the 1990s. Around the same time, I headed off to get my MBA hoping to secure a job with a manufacturing company in the Pacific Northwest. My dream came true when I landed a financial analyst position supporting Hewlett-Packard’s inkjet manufacturing business. In that role, I was able to use practically everything I had studied for the CMA exam—management reporting, capital budgeting, IT, decision analysis, modeling, and financial accounting. It was my dream job, and the CMA helped me get it.

While at Hewlett-Packard, I began attending IMA’s Reno Education Seminar & Training (REST), held annually in Reno, Nev. Over the years, it’s been a great way to pick up 2.5 days of CPE (including ethics) at an affordable rate in a fun little town (“The Biggest Little City in the World”).

I’ve attended this event for nearly 15 years, and my employers have all supported these annual trips. In addition to building some lasting friendships, I’ve met some wonderful instructors at REST, such as Drummond Kahn, Paul Burton, Mike McLean, and Ron Rael. Drummond is one of the few people I’ve met who makes auditing sound interesting. Paul is masterful at breaking down time management into bite-size pieces. Mike makes me look forward to learning about new accounting regulations. And Ron is a CPA, leadership coach, and award-winning speaker and facilitator who helps develop compassionate leaders who take care of people and focus on the greater good. Above all, he adds humor to his presentations and understands the need to have a little fun in the accounting profession.

I’ve taken Ron’s advice to heart. The prime example for me is my band, The Oscillators, which is made up entirely of accountants from Nike. We’ve played at several Nike events and at the Portland March of Dimes March for Babies.

The Oscillators, from left to right: Kevin Votava, Evelyn Hatud, Jared Newton, Mike Reed, and Bola Farinde.

Because I’ve seen the value of the CMA for my own career, I also try to encourage others to pursue it. Along with a handful of Nike employees, I worked with IMA staff members Mitra Kleinberg and Lisa Beaudoin to host an informational webinar for Nike finance and accounting professionals. In addition, Portland IMA Chapter President Ashley Loflin brought IMA President and CEO Jeff Thomson to the Nike campus for a visit. I also participate in IMA discussion panels and roundtables when I can. Thanks, IMA, for being part of my career journey.

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