While I enjoyed other facets of accounting, management and cost accounting just called to me. I decided very early to specialize in that area and focused all my accounting electives on advanced management accounting, advanced cost accounting, and finance courses.
As an undergraduate, I was a member (and later president) of my school’s accounting club. One day, an IMA® member presented to our club and talked about the benefits of IMA membership, the value of the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant), and the many activities going on at the nearby professional IMA chapter in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I joined IMA as a student member that afternoon and soon began attending local chapter events. I got so much out of being part of these events, where I was able to learn about accounting and finance in the “real world,” plus the chance to build my small but growing professional network. It helped, of course, that the members of the chapter were very inviting and always made me feel welcome. Eventually, I was also invited to join their chapter board—even though I was still a student—and was awarded the CMA Scholarship, which would allow me to study for and take the exam free of charge. I was grateful for both these opportunities.
After earning my BBA in accounting, I accepted a position as a departmental accountant and administrator at Iowa State University. Management and cost accounting remained relevant in my work, and although I had started working toward my certification, I pushed my CMA studies aside and focused on continuing my education. Over the next six years, I earned my M.Acc. in accounting and business management and, eventually, my Ph.D., both from Iowa State.
In 2017, I accepted a position as a full-time accounting professor and began to pursue the CMA certification again, which I earned in 2019. I also rejoined my local IMA chapter and began to volunteer for IMA at the global level. Volunteering with IMA allows me to interact with a variety of people and subjects. I have relevant content to bring into the classroom and engage students with. I appreciate all the materials IMA provides for students and educators.
Today, I enjoy talking to students about the many opportunities within the accounting field. My favorite day of every semester is the first day of freshman accounting when I ask students what they think accountants do and then I get to describe how accounting is so much more than they think. I’ve encouraged all my students, especially those who are interested in careers in management accounting, to pursue the CMA certification as part of their education.
IMA and the CMA have been integral components of my journey since that day a membervisited our accounting club meeting. Now I, too, have that opportunity to encourage students to engage with IMA.