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IMA Life: The Versatility of the CMA

By Mitch Griffith, CMA
March 1, 2022

When I was an undergraduate accounting student, I had a professor who said, “Professional certifications are valuable because they improve the depth and breadth of your knowledge while affording you the opportunity to stand out to employers.”

 

That idea stuck with me. During my final accounting class—auditing—that same professor brought in a number of brochures for various accounting and finance certifications. He encouraged us to take one home and research the certifications further. I ended up choosing the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) brochure. One of my career interests was to pursue a corporate finance-type role, and I was immediately drawn to CMA’s content areas.

 

After reading through its content specifications in greater detail, I knew that the CMA was the best option for me to stand out in the labor market. Management accounting definitely appealed to me: During college, subjects like corporate finance, financial statement analysis, and budgeting were all my favorite areas of accounting compared to external financial reporting (although I knew I also would need to increase my understanding of this last topic area as it comprised part of the CMA exam and might be required in my future career).

 

I began studying for the CMA exam shortly after graduating while working full-time as a project accountant for a general contractor/commercial construction company. Little did I know that one of the first topics I was studying to prepare for the exam, Accounting Standards Update No. 2014-09, Revenue Recognition, would become a staple accounting rule in my role as a project accountant for the next two years. Having studied revenue recognition from long-term contracts, I not only knew how we calculated work-in-progress at month-end, but more importantly I also understood why we calculated and recognized revenue that way. This was one of the first moments I knew I made the right decision to pursue the CMA—and I experienced many more moments like this as a project accountant. I ended up passing both parts of the CMA exam by June 2020 and was officially certified by June 2021.

 

Shortly after becoming a CMA, I decided I wanted to gain more experience in other areas of accounting and finance, so I ventured into public accounting and joined Dixon Hughes Goodman (DHG) in its advisory practice. Advisory offers the same industry exposure as the traditional attest and tax functions, but it allows the professional to go beyond those areas and provide the “value-added” services and solutions across a broad range of corporate functions, including finance, accounting, technology, and risk management. In my role at DHG, I currently work with large companies under our internal audit solutions practice, and I enjoy getting to apply my knowledge of risk management and internal controls learned from the CMA daily.

 

The CMA is a versatile designation, proven to be valuable in both industry and public accounting, and it has supported me in my career journey thus far. During my CMA studies, I also joined my local IMA® chapter in Charlotte, N.C., which has provided new opportunities to network with other CMAs in the area. I look forward to navigating the future and taking on new opportunities with the CMA and IMA as resources.

 

Mitch Griffith, CMA, is a senior consultant at Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. He’s also a member of IMA’s Charlotte Chapter. You can reach him at mitch.griffith@dhg.com.
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