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IMA Volunteerism: Take a Chance and Volunteer

By Rachel Saunders
March 1, 2019
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Volunteering your time is far more gratifying when you find something you enjoy doing. For many years, my mom taught children’s choir at the local churches while working full-time and taking care of me and my three sisters. She absolutely loved it. Hearing all the tiny young voices and helping them improve was pure joy. Later, she started a kid’s club at the church.

 

She enjoyed teaching the kids and forming them into well-rounded individuals. It was truly her gift that she shared and loved. I have always looked up to her and have only hoped that I could become as giving an individual and find the niche where my talents and experience fit best.

 

Until my involvement in IMA®, I had volunteered for a variety of causes in my free time. It was such a fulfilling experience, and I always wished that I could do more. Many years ago, I started a new job and saw that my manager, Greg, had some IMA paraphernalia in his office. I didn’t know what IMA was and wasn’t forward enough to ask since I was very shy back then.

 

A couple of years later while trying to climb the ladder there, I went back to school to pursue my undergraduate degree in accounting. During my last year of college, members of the local IMA chapter came to one of my accounting classes and spoke about IMA and the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification. I was hooked. I had been trying to figure out if I really wanted to be a CPA and knew it wasn’t for me.

 

I joined IMA during my last year of school. I attended a few of the local meetings and regional seminars but wasn’t sure how my experience would ever be able to benefit the organization. A couple of years later, I decided to pursue my CMA. I reported directly to Greg, and he suggested that I volunteer to be director of CMA/CFM programs for the local chapter. Sharing my CMA experiences while finding benefits for others pursuing their CMA was a great starting point.

 

I remained in this role on the local board for about a year and a half while continuing to study and sit for CMA exam parts when time was available. During the winter of 2005, the current president asked me if I would be the chapter president-elect. I wasn’t expecting it but said, yes, thinking I had time to prepare for the role. One month later, she was in an accident while on vacation and couldn’t continue in her role as president. As you can imagine, many thoughts ran through my head, but I was lucky that I already had an IMA mentor, Greg Van Gorp.

 

Greg has been an IMA member for years and has served at all levels, so I knew I would be okay. His guidance and mentoring are something I will always be grateful for. Since then, I’ve participated in a variety of roles at the local, regional, and global levels, and I am a member of the Stuart Cameron McLeod Society (SCMS).

 

This year will mark my 20-year membership in IMA. It has been an amazing journey so far, and I look forward to what the next adventure has in store. If you’re debating whether to get involved or not, take a chance. Everyone has that “something” that will not only benefit others in the profession but those still in school trying to find their right path.

 

Rachel Saunders, CMA, is CFO of the ESCO Group, a total systems integrator and electrical contractor, in Marion, Iowa, and a member of IMA’s Cedar Rapids Chapter. You can reach her at rachelsaunders@theescogroup.com.
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