IMA Life: Opening New Doors with Hard WorkBy
With nine years of experience under my belt, I decided the end of 2014 was the right time to expand my knowledge and engage in further education. As a Spanish citizen living in Zurich, Switzerland, and engaged in the world of international business, I knew a certification was the next step forward in my career. Though I have a master’s degree in business and accounting, I realized that professional accounting certifications are highly valued.
The decision to embark on CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) studies while working full time wasn’t something I took lightly. I knew that it would require time and dedication, and the 18 months that followed proved this to be true. Working with demanding deadlines and challenging projects as a financial controller in a large, multinational organization meant that I needed to consider how I would balance my work, personal life, and studies. In addition, the prospect of studying in English wasn’t something I’d considered before, but I thought it would be an exciting challenge. Though it’s never easy to anticipate how much effort lies ahead, sometimes it’s worth taking a risk if you want to progress.
The CMA appealed to me for many reasons. The exam content seemed very interesting and relevant for future career development. In addition, the certification was achievable in what I found to be a reasonable amount of time (I qualified fully in March 2016). What I’m glad I didn’t underestimate, however, is not only the amount of preparation required but also the discipline. The content of the CMA program is diverse, so taking the exam in two parts calls for perseverance. The global pass rates reveal the high standards expected of candidates. I’m a firm believer that “slow and steady wins the race,” so I made time most evenings during the week to study, even if only for an hour. Many weekends were also dedicated to exam preparation. I enjoyed the self-study model as it allowed me to pace myself, and no travel was involved.
Putting studies to practical use isn’t always easy, but I was very pleased to see how the CMA helped me in my role. I deepened my knowledge of new areas such as internal controls, risk management, and corporate finance. The CMA reinforced a structured way of approaching tasks, and my role as financial controller soon began to expand. I took on additional responsibilities that were very strategic in nature. Peers and superiors showed great interest in the CMA as it’s an internally recognized qualification, and I’m sure it has the potential going forward to open more doors for me.
Although studying for the exam is demanding and tough at times, the CMA is achievable for full-time working professionals. If you have passion and some free time to invest in your future, it’s well worth the effort.