IMA Volunteerism: Big Effort, Bigger ImpactBy
Most of my earliest volunteer experiences—from treasurer for a small theater charity to scanning entrance tickets and bartending at local music events—were things I did for fun. I never associated volunteering with professional development. This changed, however, when I found myself an IMA® volunteer.
During my final undergraduate year at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam, one of my professors recruited me to work as a student assistant for a CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) review course offered through the executive education department of VU’s postgraduate program. I had never heard about the CMA or IMA before, but I would soon become fully involved with both.
VU had begun holding CMA courses in 1991, and they were immediately successful. Thus, the CMA community in the Netherlands was thriving by the time I began working with the prep course in 2011. Soon, I found myself also working with IMA’s Amsterdam Chapter. Organizing sessions, finding speakers, making presentations at events and meetings—it seemed to happen almost without my realizing it. I was volunteering in a professional setting and enjoying it immensely.
The more you volunteer, the better it gets. I was elected as an Amsterdam Chapter board member in 2012, and then my volunteering career really took off. I’ve enjoyed seeing the impact of my efforts in Amsterdam, where we have a dedicated group of CMAs who attend chapter events and provide a solid professional network for each other. It has also helped my career—in my current job I rely heavily on the leadership skills that I developed in the Amsterdam Chapter.
I never imagined developing leadership skills through volunteering, but being supported by both the European and global offices makes you as a volunteer go the extra mile. While I was once (and still am) mentored by other volunteers, I am now able to pay this forward by supporting and encouraging new volunteers to further develop their organizational and leadership skills.
More recently, with encouragement from fellow volunteers worldwide, I became part of IMA’s Councils and Global Components Roundtable and the IMA Global Board of Directors. This has given me even more opportunities to meet wonderful people and enjoy amazing times with other volunteers as well as IMA staff, like attending a baseball game with Jodi Ryan (and Kermit the Frog!), sharing authentic Dutch cuisine with Lisa Beaudoin, and establishing the unofficial “Club of 30” with two fellow IMA board members. The memorable events are countless and, luckily enough, still counting.
The enriching combination of support, accessibility of staff and volunteers, and endless opportunities in academia and business keeps me going as an IMA volunteer. Volunteerism with IMA effortlessly merges professional development with fun, and I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!