IMA 100 Years: We Are Because They WereBy
One hundred years and counting is a remarkable theme. Interestingly, the word “count,” embedded in our trusted association’s name since its creation as the National Association of Cost Accountants (NACA), later National Association of Accountants (NAA), and, now, IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), has multiple meanings and usages.
Count, in the literal sense, can mean to enumerate or sum a group, or it can mean the total itself. As a verb, to count also can be used to point to someone or something of great meaning or significance. Lest we forget, a count(ess) was additionally a formal, noble title applied to a person of distinction.
Albert Einstein, who was in the middle of his life and career when IMA was founded in 1919, has been attributed with saying, “Everything that can be measured does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be measured.” For those of us who count ourselves members of this association, our success is built on the foundation of those who preceded us—and made us count to them. Parents, professors, and business mentors sparked our interest in management accounting, inspired our education, and guided our professional development. Made of loyal members, tireless staff, and dedicated volunteers, IMA is an association rooted in the Industrial Revolution and adaptive to the Information Age.
I encourage everyone to remember their guiding lights in this profession. One person who exemplified such inspiration in me was the late Dr. Robert “Bear” Koehler of Penn State University. An active and engaging participant in local and national IMA meetings, he intrigued and motivated countless students about the possibilities of the world explored through examples and key concepts of management accounting. Known widely in academic and professional circles, he mattered dearly to so many because he made every person he met count so much. I point to Bear so that we all may take a moment to recognize, remember, acknowledge, and show gratitude to those who contributed to IMA’s first century making a difference in innumerable lives and businesses.
Looking back on my own career, IMA deserves my heartfelt appreciation for so many reasons. As a student, IMA took me beyond the university classroom via local chapter meetings, which accelerated my experience and comfort in professional settings. IMA also provided scholarship opportunities that gave me generous financial support and required thoughtful career-planning reflection, as well as access to timely readings that extended textbook theories and techniques to contemporary business issues.
As my career evolved, the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification enhanced my credibility and widened my professional network. IMA also offered publication outlets in which my coauthors and I could contribute to the profession’s ongoing dialogue. Last, and perhaps most rewarding, in the spirit of sharing and making others count, IMA’s journals and research studies are an ever-growing treasure trove that I routinely share to help, guide, and inspire students, rising financial professionals, and established executives.
Muhammad Ali implored us, “Don’t count the days, but make the days count!” As we reflect on this very special centennial, let’s take great satisfaction and pride that in our accounting we have made the days count in ways that no tally could ever truly reflect. Here’s to the first 100 years being the foundation for many more centuries of success for IMA!