At the time, I was working as a financial controller, with my duties equally divided between FP&A and accounting. I initially thought that “something” was an MBA and had been working toward that when a coworker told me about the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program.

Frankly, I didn’t think I would have the time and energy to study for a certification. I was already juggling more responsibilities at work with two small kids at home. Plus, it had already taken me three years to complete the equivalent of just one year of an MBA program.

As I did more research, however, I discovered that the CMA program covered all the essential concepts needed to succeed in both corporate accounting and finance. So, I decided to pause my MBA studies and go all-in for the CMA.

At first, I thought that the CMA would be easy to complete because I was a CPA with almost 10 years of relevant experience at the time. Oh, how wrong I was!

The CMA exam extensively covers the concepts that were assessed at a higher level in the financial accounting and reporting and business environment concepts parts of the CPA exam. These parts happen to be the areas that truly bridge the gap between accounting and finance.

Thankfully, and after much study and preparation, I passed both parts of the CMA exam and was certified in January 2018. Within three months, I was hired as FP&A manager at a much larger company.

Having the CMA was instrumental in me getting an opportunity that fast. I attribute it to three things: First, I was more confident articulating the value I could bring to the table. Second, I was able to think and speak finance while being an accountant at heart. And third, I was able to provide tangible examples and applications of my skills during interviews.

The CMA has given me the ability and the credibility to lead both accounting and finance functions at any company. Today, I’m vice president of finance and accounting at a chemical manufacturer. As a member of the senior executive team, I get to provide my financial expertise in developing and implementing various strategic initiatives throughout the company.

I’m grateful that being a CMA didn’t stop at getting the certification. I’ve been able to tap into the valuable resources IMA® offers its members to grow in their careers. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to serve on various boards and committees with IMA, both locally as part of IMA’s Atlanta Chapter and globally. I also mentor other aspiring leaders through the IMA Leadership Academy Mentoring Program.

These opportunities allow me to develop my leadership skills even further and become a successful thought leader in the profession.

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