Attending conferences and participating in networking events are crucial for career growth. Networking can help you make professional contacts, establish new friendships, or find a job. Whatever your goal, leaving a lasting impression will help you stand out among your peers. In this post, IMA’s top thought leaders share the qualities of a memorable encounter they’ve had at a networking event they’ve attended.
JEFF THOMSON, CMA, CAE, IMA president and CEO, met a woman who forged her own path and built an organization around her ethical beliefs:
“The most memorable person I met at a conference with networking was Dr. Jean Rogers, CEO and founder of the SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board). The SASB is a nonprofit that focuses on investor-relevant information on a company’s sustainability defined beyond financial measures to include environmental, social, and governance measures, and more. Jean founded the SASB in her garage five and a half years ago. Wow, what an inspiring story from a female entrepreneur!”
DENNIS WHITNEY, CMA, CFM, senior vice president of the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA®), sees persistence and determination as strong leadership qualities:
“The most memorable person for me is a CMA, originally from Egypt, whom I met at a conference coffee break in Dubai recently. He reminded me that several years ago I encouraged him to continue on his CMA journey even though the obstacles were high. He was having trouble passing the last part and affording the fees. He took my advice, made the investment of time and money, and became a CMA. It changed his life. He now has a very good job for a company in Saudi Arabia. He loves his job and provides well for his family. The CMA made a difference in his life. These are the kind of stories I love to hear!”
For DEBBIE WARNER, CPLP, IMA vice president of education and career services, teamwork is a stand-out quality:
“One of the most memorable individuals I recently met was an executive with an enormously successful career in the management accounting arena. Her path began with earning a university degree in accounting, and then joining the working world and quickly climbing the corporate ladder in various accounting positions. In a short time, she had landed the CFO role in a well-known organization and then continued her career path to an EVP/CFO role. Along the way, she bolstered her business reputation further by earning the CMA certification.
“While her accomplishments were nothing short of outstanding, the thing that impressed me even more was how this very successful individual humbly attributed her success to not only hard work but more importantly to other people! As she saw it, working with others and building strong relationships were key to her career growth. Her tips for building strong relationships included nurturing strong interpersonal skills, seeking opportunities to collaborate with others to achieve organizational goals, and working hard to cultivate mutual respect and trust in all her dealings. She definitely felt that people contributed to making her career path a much richer and more successful one.”
LINDA DEVONISH-MILLS, CMA, CPA, CAE, IMA director of technical accounting activities, says interpersonal and communication skills are most memorable:
“I think it’s important to approach people you don’t know when you attend networking events. That is the best way to expand your contacts. I was recently impressed by someone I met at an alumni event at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He took the time to determine who was sitting at his table and approached everyone to get to know them (including me) prior to our sitting down. I thought that was a good way to ‘break the ice’ with conversation. It also gave me a chance to meet a new person.”
For RAEF LAWSON, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research and professor-in-residence, being a strong leader means being dedicated to the work you’re passionate about:
“The most memorable person I’ve met at a recent networking event was Lakshman Watawala, president of the Institute of CMAs of Sri Lanka. It was very impressive to hear how he is helping to build the management accounting profession in his country. He is truly dedicated to this task and has overseen great strides in that area.”
DOREEN REMMEN, CMA, CAE, IMA senior vice president of operations and CFO, says being connected with your network is a strong leadership quality:
“I am impressed by a young woman I’ve seen at every chapter meeting I’ve attended. She is always there—she is a regular. She comfortably makes eye contact with everyone in the room, makes newcomers feel welcome, and is able to connect people with others. It takes time to build up that ‘recognizability’ factor. The simple investment of time in her network makes her memorable and helps her recognize and remember others.”
Share your experiences. What was the last networking event you attended? Who was the most memorable person you met? Why was he or she so memorable to you?
Networking: Some Things Never Change – Strategic Finance