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IMA Life: Adding Impact

By Robert Leonard, CMA
July 1, 2019
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Because I’ve always been interested in money and business and had a knack for numbers and math, a career in accounting was an easy choice for me. I began studying accounting in high school by taking courses at a local university as part of my school’s dual enrollment program.

 

After graduation, I enrolled in college full-time at UMass Lowell as an accounting major. But during the second semester of my sophomore year, a tough accounting professor caused me to lose my passion for the subject, prompting me to switch my major to finance. I finished my undergraduate degree in three and a half years, then went directly into the university’s MBA program. My passion for accounting had returned, and I double-majored in accounting and finance for my MBA.

 

Toward the end of my studies, I was reading through LinkedIn and stumbled across the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program in an advertisement. It piqued my interest, so I read more about it. While researching the program, I realized I recognized it. A representative from Wiley had spoken to my management accounting class when I was an undergraduate.

 

At the time, I didn’t comprehend the value of the designation. I had only heard of the CPA license and had limited industry experience to realize how the CMA might be beneficial. Fast-forward to when I came across the ad on LinkedIn. By that time, I had some years of experience in industry via various financial planning and analysis (FP&A) and accounting roles, and that allowed me to see how much value the CMA would add to my skill set and résumé.

 

I did some investigating and soon discovered the amazing CMA Scholarship IMA® offered. I was lucky enough to be nominated by a professor at my university and soon became a recipient of this generous opportunity for select students to take the exam at no cost. I spent the next four months studying for the exam, and then I took both parts within a month. I took advantage of IMA’s option to take them in the test taker’s desired order: I did Part 2 first, followed by Part 1. After a grueling wait, I was notified that the long hours of studying and preparation had paid off—I passed both on the first try!

 

Earning the CMA designation has improved my confidence, enhanced my résumé, provided invaluable networking opportunities, and opened many new doors. By honing my skills to prepare for the exam, I gained more confidence to complete the tasks required in my job as well as strengthened my ability to engage in high-level conversations with coworkers, supervisors, and upper management.

 

In today’s corporate world, nearly everyone has a college degree, but not everyone has an advanced designation like the CMA: It truly adds impact that makes my résumé stand out to recruiters and prospective employers. Attending events and interacting with other CMAs at my local New Hampshire Chapter, where I serve on the board of directors, and on IMA’s online platforms provides invaluable networking opportunities that benefit me in so many ways. I’m so grateful to be a CMA!

 

Robert Leonard, CMA, is a senior financial analyst at DN Tanks. You can reach him at robertwleonard@icloud.com.
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