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Chart a Path Forward

By Paul E. Juras, Ph.D., CMA, CSCA, CPA
February 1, 2021
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Just before Thanksgiving, I received an email from IMA® regarding the CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) exam. As you might recall from October, I had taken the exam and was awaiting the results. So, imagine my delight when I opened the email and saw the message: “Congratulations on successfully passing the CSCA exam.” That was certainly one thing I gave thanks for at Thanksgiving dinner.

 

To prepare for the exam, I used the IMA Strategy and Competitive Analysis Learning Series® (the 21 NASBA CPE credits was a nice benefit). I went through the bank of practice questions multiple times. I practiced writing solutions to the case just to get used to the process of forming a cohesive response within the estimated 60 minutes allotted. This exercise gave me the opportunity to synthesize the information I had learned and then make strategic recommendations.

 

I was nervous the day I went to the Prometric testing center. Yet everything went off without a hitch. They had all the social distancing protocols in place, and Prometric complies with all government safety mandates and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization. So, all I had to worry about was taking the exam.

 

Passing the exam was great news. Although I have many years of experience, it was still a nice feeling to receive objective verification of my skills in strategic management. I learned a lot studying for the CSCA. And as the IMA Global Board of Directors and senior staff conduct our annual strategic planning, I will use what I learned to help add value to our great organization.

 

For those attempting a similar journey, I suggest that you visualize success and chart a path forward—you may stumble along the way, but do your best to remain committed to the effort. Change and improvement often come from a series of small steps, small successes. Those who hold the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification have proven that they have the discipline and knowledge to obtain a professional certification. If you study hard and learn to think strategically, you, too, can pass the CSCA, an investment that will help you earn a seat at the strategy table of your organization, driving organizational transformation and creating competitive advantage.

 

And here’s another great feature of the CSCA program: You can sit for the exam once you’ve passed both parts of the CMA exam—even if you’re still working on completing the education or experience requirements for the CMA. Then, once your degree and work experience requirements are fulfilled, you will be awarded both the CMA and CSCA certifications. Definitely a win-win.

 

I welcome your comments on this or any other topic at paul.juras@imanet.org.

 

Paul E. Juras, Ph.D., CMA, CSCA, CPA, is the Jefferson Vander Wolk Chair of Management Accounting and Operational Performance at Babson College and Chair of the IMA Global Board of Directors. ­Follow him on LinkedIn, or Twitter, @pauljuras.
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