Less Travel, More JourneyBy
In January 2013, my career changed because I stopped traveling for work. I had just finished five straight years of working six to seven days a week on gas and oil pipeline construction projects. Through some luck and determination, I’d been promoted from laborer to clerk in my first year, then to accountant in my second. By my fourth year, I was a finance/accounting manager for large projects with a staff of four and revenues exceeding $100 million per year.
The clerk position in the corporate office doing credit and collections calls was quite a dramatic fall from what I had worked so hard to achieve, but whether I’d realized it or not, I was dramatically specialized. Part of my early career success had occurred because I was willing to work so many hours and go anywhere at any time, but the corporate office didn’t value this trait. The hard truth for me was that I lacked the proper set of skills and business acumen to advance elsewhere.
This was the start of my CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) journey. Equipped with only my associate’s degree and curiosity, I had conversations with every manager who would give me a few minutes. One day, the corporate controller met with me and educated me on the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and the CMA, certifications he held. I studied and researched accounting/finance positions, degrees, and certifications until I had determined my goal of a leadership role in Finance and a path to achieve it.
The first step was two years of night school at Gwynedd Mercy University to complete a bachelor’s degree in business. The bachelor’s degree helped me grow my understanding of business management and teamwork. It was a broader educational progression, but it was important and critical to the next step.
In January 2016, I joined IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) to start the process of becoming a CMA. I chose the IMA/CMA path based on two years of studies and discussions with countless accounting and financial professionals. The content and criteria of the CMA have a superior correlation for the emerging and developing CFO. The material would display my accounting and financial knowledge in the areas that would help maximize a company’s effort to be successful.
I spent the next eight months studying for Part 1 and received my passing score that November. The following year, I again studied for eight months and received my passing score for Part 2 in November 2017. My certification came shortly afterward. It was an amazing feeling to become a CMA and to have completed such an important step.
When you’re a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle, and a friend, life will happen. My second daughter was born in the fall of 2016. Yet throughout it all, I never stopped dreaming of holding that certification and driving myself toward the goal.
Recently I had an interesting revelation about the certification I had dreamed of holding when I was speaking to a group of accounting and finance students at Temple University in Philadelphia. I told them the truth about getting the certification. It’s hanging on a wall in my office and I am proud of it, but it’s just a piece of paper. The real gift, the real prize, was the knowledge, skills, and confidence that I gained from studying for the CMA and the people I met in IMA.