IMA Life: A Passion for KnowledgeBy
Accounting has been my profession since the early 1970s. After earning my MBA, I spent two enriching years at Ernst & Ernst, where I benefited from collegiate mentorship and earned my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) in 1972. I was in my mid-20s and becoming enchanted with learning.
When I heard about the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) a short time later, I was intrigued by its broader scope of knowledge. Preparing for the exam widened both my accounting and business perspectives. I earned my CMA in 1974, and this achievement helped inspire my passion for a lifetime of learning.
Over the years, I developed strategies to leverage my knowledge journey, and I’ve learned quite a few lessons along the way. Here is some of my best advice for keeping your mind sharp and your involvement with IMA® active:
Expand your specialist skills. After earning the CPA and CMA, I continued to build my knowledge base with additional certifications. Over the next 25 years, I acquired multiple certifications in management consulting, business appraisal, and finance, including the CFM (Certified in Financial Management) designation in 1997. I appreciated the significant overlap in the concentric circles of these various skills, but I also respected how much there was still to learn.
Expand your generalist skills. I fostered my learning process by seeking out generalist skills to build on as well. I took a Dale Carnegie course and was active in Toastmasters to enhance my public speaking, listening, and mentoring skills. I became an avid reader of a variety of books and articles and became more curious about life.
Surround yourself with smart people. I became active in a variety of professional and community organizations. I served as a board member of my local IMA chapter and with various other accounting and business groups, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) national governing council. These opportunities provided me with a chance to learn from the collective wisdom of others in the profession and to contribute to a common goal.
Be curious and explore evolving technology. In 1996, I became fascinated with the internet. I developed a website for my CPA firm, making us one of the first small firms to have a quality web presence. It’s so important to be passionate and motivated by evolving technology tools.
Share your knowledge. I authored the firm’s newsletter, so I decided to leverage my efforts by submitting articles to professional journals. This strategy worked, as I placed more than 30 articles on topics such as business, accounting, and managerial issues. One of my proudest moments was publishing an article in the October 2004 issue of Strategic Finance, titled “Bring Back the Generalist.” It advocated for using the skills of the generalist to leverage the specialized knowledge that’s necessary in our complex society. That perspective is even truer today than it was nearly 20 years ago. Most recently, I released my first book, Quotes and Ladders, a weekly quote and question journal, and I’m working on a second book, Entrepreneur to CEO: The Ten Hurdles You Face.
I hope my five-decade journey inspires you on a similar learning path. I encourage you to stretch your vision and foster a passion for knowledge.