IMA Life: International ValidationBy
When I was 30 years old, I began working as an accountant for Panasonic’s Shizuoka, Japan, plant. Prior to that, my career path had been quite varied, including serving as a cabinet official of the Japanese government, a fellow of the Matsushita (Panasonic) Institute of Government and Management, and as a strategic planner for a global merchandizing group.
At the time I joined Panasonic, I felt very much like a beginner in the field of management accounting. Yet my earlier experiences had taught me something important: Strong management accounting is the key to realizing good government and even society.
Thanks to Panasonic’s excellent on-the-job training and internal training program, I acquired skills to become a capable management accountant for this manufacturing company within four years. Despite this achievement, I still felt I was missing some external validation and global recognition of my skills. That’s when I began looking more closely at IMA® and the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program.
No sooner had I begun preparing for the CMA exam than I was transferred to China to become CFO of Panasonic Beijing, a cell phone manufacturer, in 2002. At that time, IMA didn’t offer a Chinese-language version of the CMA program, so I halted my CMA studies. Yet I believe that my supervisors promoted me to this position in part because they saw in me a young financial professional with a drive to succeed, evidenced by my preparing for the CMA.
After spending four years in China, I relocated to the United States to become CFO of Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America from 2007 to 2012. It was an incredible professional opportunity—and it also allowed me to resume my CMA preparation. I studied for the exam at night and on the weekends while I spent my workdays applying what I learned to real business and management challenges. Thanks to the skills I learned, I was able to help my company survive the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and manage a critical supply chain crisis caused by an earthquake in eastern Japan. Eventually, I passed both exam parts in 2011.
Since earning my CMA, I’ve applied my analytical skills in many circumstances. As plant manager for Panasonic Czech Republic, for example, I led more than 1,500 employees. The CMA also helped me in a challenging merger situation, where I used my business, operations, and financial expertise to smooth things out with the merged company and eventually achieve business success.
Most recently, I’ve become focused on how to gain an advantage in a competitive business environment. Up until now, my career journey was focused on achieving and maintaining high operational efficiency, but that’s just a small part of what it takes to truly become a market leader. With this new focus, I’ve started studying for IMA’s CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) certification. My journey with IMA continues.