My path to becoming a CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) and finance director wasn’t linear. It started in the analytical realm of banking.


For nearly 15 years, I focused on credit analysis, commercial portfolio management, and branch leadership. Those experiences made me better at financial modeling, financial analysis, risk assessment, and strategic decision making. Along the way, I contributed to the funding of many projects with individual, small to medium-sized business, and commercial loans.


The CMA Advantage


But a deep desire for change stirred within me. So, I dived into uncharted waters: the shipbuilding industry, where I took a position as a finance and contract director at a company in Turkey. Since entering the field about 10 years ago, I’ve sought continuous improvement by completing my master’s degree in finance and accounting and by earning my CMA and Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA) certifications.


The CMA was the most invaluable and rewarding pursuit. The program’s intensive training and comprehensive knowledge equipped me with advanced skills and a strategic vision for succeeding in this demanding environment. It increased my capacity to search deeper into cost accounting, financial analysis, performance management, and decision support—all of which has enabled me to provide accurate financial forecasts and crucial insights for navigating complex projects.


For example, I believe there’s a three-pointed triangle consisting of cash flow management, cost management, and budget or performance management that a successful finance professional must manage well. In my particular project-based industry, the knowledge earned from the CMA helps me to manage this triangle with better analysis, strategic thinking, decision making, and forecasting.


Charting Career Growth


After 25 years as a finance professional, I’ve learned the pursuit of knowledge has great value. No matter what career routes you take, there will be opportunities to improve. All you need to do is seize upon them.


Here are three ways that aspiring CMAs can push themselves:

  • Embrace continuous learning. In a constantly evolving financial landscape, you need to stay ahead of the curve. Create a budget to invest in personal and professional development opportunities, such as training.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. To achieve goals, stretch yourself. Work hard and hold yourself accountable. The top reason I passed the CMA exam in the first attempt is that I prepared systematically and studied daily.
  • Develop strong communication and interpersonal skills. Sharpening your financial expertise isn’t enough. Learn to communicate complex financial concepts clearly and concisely to both technical and nontechnical audiences. And strengthen your engagement skills to be a true team player. Building strong relationships with colleagues across departments helps to elevate collaboration and ensure success.

These strategies have fueled my professional finance career—ultimately driving me to earn a CMA certification. It’s no wonder that I’m a happy and proud member of IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants).


About the Authors