Volunteerism is often viewed as an opportunity to give back and make a difference in the lives of others, but it also makes a difference in the life of the volunteer. Being a volunteer can be a catalyst for personal and professional growth.
While volunteering your time is gratifying when you find something you enjoy doing, you can also find great satisfaction by volunteering in a role that challenges you and moves you out of your comfort zone. I encourage all members to do a self-assessment to identify the strengths and gaps in their personal or professional skill set and then look for opportunities to volunteer. IMA® is a great place to start.
Volunteer service in IMA provides excellent leadership training and experience in a relatively low-risk setting. Personally, I’ve had opportunities to learn teamwork, conflict resolution, adaptability, and other important “soft” skills. These opportunities can prepare you for more senior roles in your own organization and may not even be possible in your for-pay job. IMA also offers a sense of community that comes from working toward shared goals. These types of connections have become so important to many of us in this world of COVID-19.
Volunteering doesn’t mean you have to be a volunteer leader. There are numerous opportunities for points of engagement within IMA that can help you grow and develop as well, such as:
- Contribute to IMA’s publications, like Strategic Finance, Management Accounting Quarterly, or the IMA Educational Case Journal (IECJ®). You can volunteer as a member of an editorial advisory board or write an article. I encourage many of you to think seriously about the latter option and, perhaps, find an academic professional to work with you.
- Hone and develop your leadership skills by joining the IMA Leadership Academy or IMA’s mentoring program—these can be done virtually.
- Help strengthen the profession’s knowledge base by joining the IMA Research Foundation.
- Advance the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification by joining the ICMA® (Institute of Certified Management Accountants) Board of Regents (you must be a CMA).
- Advocate for the profession and IMA by working with one of IMA’s standing committees or serving within your local chapter or regional council. If you’re a senior-level professional, consider serving on the IMA Global Board of Directors. Nominations are open through September 15, 2020. To learn more, visit bit.ly/2BEB7Xt.
Borrowing an idea from fellow board member Olya Kovnatska, I think IMA stands for more than just “Institute of Management Accountants.” To me, it also stands for Inspired to serve others, Member-focused, and Action-oriented: wanting and acting on a desire to make a difference to our members and our profession.
And so, if you want to do more, volunteer.
I welcome your comments on this or any other topic at firstname.lastname@example.org.