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IMA Volunteerism: The Perfect Formula

By Olya Kovnatska, CMA
March 1, 2020
1 comments

When reading testimonials of volunteers from IMA® and other nonprofit organizations, I find most stories aren’t about the sacrifices made but about the benefits gained. My story is no exception. Indeed, I’ve found three benefits that summarize the perfect formula for me: I (Inspiration) + M (Mentoring) + A (Adventure).

 

I – INSPIRATION

 

When I first joined the board of my local IMA chapter in Portland, Ore., I didn’t really know what to expect—volunteering was new to me. I would never have guessed that 10 years later, I’d be serving my second term on the IMA Global Board of Directors. During my IMA journey, I’ve had the privilege of working with dozens of diverse volunteers who come together because they care deeply about the present and future of our profession. Driven by the desire to give back, they strive to enrich the lives of students, educators, and finance professionals globally. These fellow members are my role models. Their passion for our organization is palpable, inspiring me to challenge myself by taking on new volunteering assignments so that I, too, can make a difference.

 

M – MENTORING

 

Volunteering has provided me with a unique avenue for establishing and developing strong mentor relationships. I met my mentor nine years ago through IMA’s mentoring program after I impulsively responded to an email asking for pilot participants. Since then, I’ve been an avid advocate for mentoring as a catalyst for personal and professional growth. In fact, my first role as an IMA volunteer revolved around mentoring. After discovering that many of our local members hadn’t heard of the IMA mentoring program and were missing out on its benefit, I set out on a mission to promote this program during our chapter meetings. It was so satisfying to help our members find a mentor or a mentee who best suited their needs. I still remember how overwhelmingly joyful I felt when we made a perfect match.

 

A – ADVENTURE

 

When preparing to write this column, I asked my mentor for advice. He said, “Think about one word that best describes your volunteer experience.” For me, that word is “adventure.” I loved reading adventure stories growing up because I got to live vicariously through the characters as they faced unknown risks and trials. What struck me most was their ability to raise their game, dig deeper, and become more courageous when helping someone in need. As volunteers, we can fearlessly reach for higher goals and say “yes” to more adventures because we’re driven by our passion to help others. And the higher we reach, the more we learn.

 

Albert Einstein once said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” As finance professionals, we loathe making mistakes—even small errors can seriously undermine our credibility. Volunteering inspires me to venture out and challenge myself in a risk-free environment. The mistakes I make there will stay there, but the benefits will spread beyond. The friendships, confidence, and growth I’ve gained as an IMA volunteer have had a lasting impact on my personal and professional life. I+M+A is my volunteering formula. What’s yours?

 

Olya Kovnatska, CMA, is a financial planning and analysis manager at United Rentals, Inc. in Stamford, Conn., and a member of the IMA Global Board of Directors. You can reach her at o.kovnatska@gmail.com.
1 + Show Comments

1 comment.
    Bud Kulesza March 4, 2020 AT 8:06 pm

    Thanks Olya for writing an outstanding article sharing your IMA volunteer experience! You have given others a great perspective of what volunteering can be. I hope readers of your article will be encouraged to be more adventurous by becoming engaged!

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