IMA Moments

Setting Career Development Goals

By IMA Leadership
December 19, 2017

What career development goals did you make for yourself during the first year of your career? The goals you set for yourself during that first year are crucial for long-term success. IMA’s top thought leaders share the professional development goals they set for themselves during the first year of their career.


Jeff Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE, IMA president and CEO, says:

“I joined one of the world’s largest and most prestigious corporations, AT&T, in 1979, which was just before massive changes would impact the telecommunications industry. It was also an era when you could actually work for a large company ‘for life.’ So in year one, I committed not to ‘R&R’ but ‘L&L’—lots of learning and lots of listening.


“I didn’t start in finance and accounting. I started in the Analytical Support Center, essentially an internal technical advisory group for clients within the company. So I committed to learning about client/customer needs, the industry in which we operated, AT&T’s core value-generation strategies, the value of collaboration, and the courage to ask questions in the spirit of learning and challenge.”


Raef Lawson, CMA, CSCA, CPA, Ph.D., IMA vice president of research and professor-in-residence, says:

“During the first year of my career, my goal was to learn as much as I could about the company I worked for and to take advantage of any opportunities that arose. The company had hired me as the manager involved in long-range planning. When the company began expanding its Marketing department, the vice president of Marketing had asked me to also assume the role of director of Marketing Research, knowing I had a background in marketing and analytics. It was a great first job—I was helping guide the company’s strategic direction while at the same time being involved in its operational activities. I learned a lot!”


Debbie Warner, CPLP, CAE, IMA vice president of education and career services, says:

“My first job was at a bank. Being straight out of college and new to the professional workforce, I spent the first year of my career learning as much as I could about the banking industry and my organization. This meant understanding the organization’s vision, meeting with many of my colleagues to learn about what they do and how my job related to them, and taking courses with a banking association to learn the technical skills I needed on the job. I also sought out a mentor, my boss, who helped me recognize that lifelong learning is critical to progress. I then started my master’s in finance degree, which took a few years to complete while working full time.”


Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE, IMA director of technical accounting activities, says:

“Based on my experience, I would advise an entry-level management accountant to make sure that they’re familiar with all of the technical accounting issues that impact their employer’s industry. Early in my career, I realized that you should dress how you would like to be perceived. So, for example, if you aspire to be a senior executive, present yourself accordingly in terms of attire and communication skills.”


Doreen Remmen, CMA, CSCA, CAE, IMA’s senior vice president of operations and CFO, says:

“In my first year as an auditor I remember being in awe of the incredible opportunity presented to me. My goals were simply to learn everything I could and to make a good impression on my clients, my supervisors, and the partners in the firm. That first year in public accounting, as I remember it, was all about survival. I worked very long hours and strived to produce excellent work. There was so much to learn!”

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Members of the IMA leadership team include: Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE, IMA president and CEO; Doreen Remmen, CMA, CSCA, CAE, senior vice president of operations and CFO; Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research and professor-in-residence; Debbie Warner, CPLP, CAE, IMA vice president of education and career services; and Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE, IMA director of technical accounting activities. Visit IMA at
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