IMA Life: Celebrate Your DifferencesBy
The journey to where I am now in my career has been fairly unexpected. A recent graduate of Johnson & Johnson’s Financial Leadership Development Program (FLDP), I’m now a senior financial analyst there. If you would have told me while I was growing up that I would be working for one of the world’s most respected and admired companies, I would have laughed. Careers like this were historically unattainable for my family. My grandparents had dropped out of high school, and, although my parents graduated high school, they decided to enter the workforce in lieu of college. No one in my family had graduated college, so I strived to break the cycle.
Being a Kentucky native, I decided to attend the University of Kentucky and major in chemistry on a pre-med track. I had completed the prerequisites for medical school before realizing that I had a stronger passion for finance. I switched my major during my junior year but had to catch up if I wanted to graduate in four years. I was able to accomplish that goal and even graduated summa cum laude. Yet I wasn’t satisfied with the job opportunities that on-campus recruiting provided. After much research, I decided to attend Villanova University to pursue a master’s degree in finance. There I interviewed with J&J through its on-campus recruiting efforts and ultimately decided to enter the company’s FLDP.
Last year I had the opportunity to facilitate a Career Roundtable discussion at IMA’s Annual Student Leadership Conference. It was such a rewarding experience to give back to students by mentoring them. There have been a few key mentors in my life who have offered invaluable feedback, and I hope students left the Conference with a fresh perspective on their potential and what it’s like to transition from school to your first full-time job. Interestingly, the most common question students asked me was, “Should I pursue the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential?” Of course, this question doesn’t have a right answer and is highly dependent on each individual’s goals.
Within the Finance department at J&J, the CMA is a highly regarded certification. The content of the CMA exam mirrors real-world applications used across the corporate finance and accounting functions. For me, a great benefit in achieving this certification was the financial incentive I received for passing the CMA exam in 2013, but, more importantly, it was a strong signal that I was technically proficient in accounting.
I am where I am today because of my hard work, perseverance, and dedication to achieving my goals. I’m proud to say that I work for the largest and most diversified healthcare company in the world. We should celebrate our different personal and educational backgrounds and build on our life experiences to work together and make the world a better place.