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IMA Volunteerism: The Best Way to Learn

By Roopa Venkatesh, Ph.D., CMA
September 1, 2020
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You’ve probably heard the saying, “Travel is the best way to learn.” For me, embracing the role of a volunteer leader for a global organization like IMA® allows me to learn from people of diverse backgrounds and cultures—without having to physically travel.

 

My introduction and path to volunteerism wasn’t part of any grand plan to further my career. Instead, it began with my desire to better understand the valuable resources IMA has to offer my students interested in pursuing careers in management accounting and finance.

 

So, I joined with another IMA member to reactivate the Platte Valley Chapter in Nebraska in 2013. Little did I realize that this initiative would put me on an adventurous global journey of learning about the management accounting profession and myself.

 

My trajectory of volunteer leadership at IMA has inclusively progressed from a Campus Advocate to a Campus Influencer to a founding board member of IMA’s Platte Valley Chapter. Currently, I’m also a member of the IMA Global Board of Directors, and I serve as a member of the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee and as chair of the Committee on Academic Relations.

 

The cumulative rewards of my service to IMA in these roles are unquantifiable. Yet, if I had to describe what I’ve gained, I’d say that I’ve learned what I would have from several jobs with different organizations over decades. For example, just like you gain independence when you travel, volunteering for a global organization like IMA has helped me develop into a more independent leader.

 

I’ve had to push myself beyond my familiar environment with colleagues in my university and local professional community to one where I need to interact and work with new people from different parts of the world. The diversity of thought of these global leaders and their unique contributions to IMA and the management accounting profession have influenced my leadership style.

 

As a board member of the Platte Valley Chapter, I have creatively pursued fundraising, created and developed the first women’s leadership event at the chapter level, and been involved in several other educational events. Over the years, I’ve built a bridge between IMA leaders worldwide—not just with myself and my students—but also the student, professional, and academic com­munities in Nebraska.

 

As an IMA volunteer leader, I’ve also gained the courage to try, fail, and learn from my mistakes. The most notable lesson I’ve learned is to respect and value diverse and often-opposing perspectives. Volunteer leadership at IMA isn’t about wielding power; it’s about discovering the power of the knowledge you receive from selflessly giving your time to the profession.

 

My active involvement in developing IMA’s D&I and educational initiatives has been a great lesson in the value of inclusivity. The diverse and inclusive environment at IMA fosters courage, creativity, innovation, and knowledge sharing despite geographical distances. If you always thought “travel is the best way to learn,” then begin your journey as an IMA volunteer!

 

Roopa Venkatesh, Ph.D., CMA, is a William C. Hockett associate professor of accounting in the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a member of the IMA Global Board of Directors. She can be reached at rvenkatesh@unomaha.edu.
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