IMA Volunteerism: The Organic MeBy
Volunteerism is an organic part of me. I’ve worked in the not-for-profit world for most of my professional life, seeing the benefits that volunteers bring to projects and appreciating volunteers as sustainable building blocks for critical missions. I believe volunteerism is an integral part of a robust partnership that can make organizations successful.
My own volunteering experiences have made for an enjoyable journey. Seventeen years ago, I quit my job at a Big Four firm and joined a not-for-profit, considering it just a temporary stop. Instead, I found the work immensely rewarding. I eventually earned a post-qualification degree in insurance and risk management and, later, my CMA® (Certified Management Accountant).
In 2017, the IMA® Switzerland Chapter asked if I would consider a board position. My first reaction was, “Why me?” But then I quickly realized, “Why not me?” I know the value volunteerism brings to the humanitarian aid world. The exact same principles held true for this challenge ahead of me.
I am grateful to my IMA colleagues who gave me the autonomy to do what I could, understanding that we all have busy jobs. As a board member, I took over the chapter strategy, newsletters, and CPE events in the Suisse Romandie region—all time-consuming responsibilities, but worth every moment.
Looking back, I treasure:
- Discovering the untapped network potential.Until I started looking for event speakers, I didn’t realize how many subject-matter experts are willing to share their knowledge. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open.
- Building my network beyond my day job.Yes, we all grow and invest in jobs that pay our bills, but once we reach stability in our careers, we owe it to our professional community to give back.
- Redefining my leadership skills.When the objective is to do good with no strings attached, it becomes easier to tread difficult paths.
One of my most memorable experiences was receiving an IMA recognition award from IMA Chair-Emeritus Ginger White at the Women’s Accounting Leadership Series event in Munich, Germany, in October 2019. Ginger’s warmth and encouragement inspired me to bring a similar event to Geneva.
The Switzerland Chapter had prepared to host such an event in Geneva on March 11, 2020, to celebrate International Women’s Day; we also had planned our Management Accounting Conference for the next day. Months of volunteer work suddenly halted with the decision to postpone all events in Europe amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. It was an emotional moment for me, filled with sadness yet also pride in IMA for choosing, above all, to protect the health and safety of its community.
When I read updates on what IMA is doing during this time, I stay motivated to bring our community together through various virtual platforms and remote learning resources. We are stronger together, more than ever!