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IMA Life: Keeping Moving Downstream

By Deborah C. Michalowski, CPA
April 1, 2020
2 comments

Throughout my career, I’ve known what it’s like to be the “big fish in a small pond” as well as the “little fish in a big pond.” I began my career in 1984 as a big fish, working as the only accountant, supervised by a CPA, at a small manufacturer of hair products.

 

After several years and following a referral from a fellow Clemson alum, I switched to a role as a small fish, becoming an accountant at the corporate headquarters of AT&T, where my team made the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles adjustments to the regulated books and addressed Financial Accounting Standards Board statement issuances. I stayed at AT&T for two and a half years, taking an early retirement package after my first child was born and eventually becoming a part-time consultant.

 

Over the next dozen years, I became a mother of three and transitioned into many consulting, business start-up, and nonprofit board positions—in New Jersey, then London, then back to New Jersey, and finally, to Arizona, where I joined IMA®in 2007.

 

I began my IMA volunteer service in 2008, serving as codirector of the Arizona Valley of the Sun Chapter’s newsletter. I also served a term as chapter president in 2013-2014, during which time something fortuitous happened: Thanks to the connections of the chapter’s VP of education, we conducted a chapter visit to Intel, a Fortune50 company.

 

During that visit, I met Russell Gardner and another Intel finance associate. The meeting went so well that afterward, Russell asked us to come back in June 2014 to give a presentation about the CMA®(Certified Management Accountant) certification. That summer, and in part because of our outreach at Intel, our chapter won second place in the Stevenson Division of the IMA chapter competition.

 

Over the next year, Russell and I stayed in touch on LinkedIn. I eventually invited him to speak at our general membership meeting and, in October 2015, at a student chapter meeting. During that meeting, Russell pulled me aside and said, “Intel doesn’t just hire recent college graduates; we also hire experienced professionals. Would you be interested in working here?”

 

After a lengthy interview process, I went back to being a small fish in a big pond. I started at Intel in January 2016 as the risk and controls senior analyst of the Internet of Things Group (IOTG) in Chandler, Ariz. Today, I’m the process and systems business specialist in the Technology and Manufacturing Group—Strategic Capacity Planning Finance. Among my many responsibilities, I’m driving the initial standardization of the capital forecast process across Intel as one component of the company’s global finance transformation initiative.

 

I believe the waters of life are impossible to predict, but we do have the ability to influence a bend in the flow here or there by the things we do and the investment of time and personal connections we make. My involvement in IMA has been one of those influences. I didn’t know where that involvement would ultimately take me, but it kept me moving downstream, allowed me to grow, and helped to inspire me. Thanks, IMA.

 

Deborah C. Michalowski, CPA, works at Intel in Chandler, Ariz., and is a member of IMA’s Arizona Valley of the Sun Chapter. You can reach her at debmichalowski@gmail.com.
2 + Show Comments

2 comments
    BABU I. RAZACK CMA, ACMA April 16, 2020 AT 4:01 pm

    By being a big fish in a small pond, one can be focused to become a small fish in a big pond. It means you we transparent wherever you are. This has made you (Deb)to grow as a big fish in a big pond.

    Rosemary Amato April 4, 2020 AT 5:43 am

    Great article Deb. I enjoyed reading it

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