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Going for Gold in Your Career

By J. Stephen McNally, CMA, CPA
September 1, 2021

Did you catch the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July and August?

 

When I was a kid, I watched the Olympic torch pass through my town on the way to the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. But I’m more partial to the Summer Olympics, especially the soccer, track-and-field, and, of course, rowing events. I’m inspired by the Olympic Movement’s vision to build a better world by promoting sport, culture, and education. I’m inspired by the dedication, laser focus, sacrifice, and raw talent of the athletes. And I’m inspired by those competitors who receive gold for being the “best of the best.”

 

We, like the Olympic athletes, should strive for excellence during our career journeys. For management accounting and finance professionals, earning the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification is a very tangible way to do so.

 

As you may know from the July 2021 issue of this magazine, I began my career in public accounting, having been encouraged along with my fellow accounting majors at Villanova University to take the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam. I eventually also earned an international MBA at the University of South Carolina and then joined Campbell Soup Company, where I worked for nearly 25 years, advancing through various roles.

 

Although I “discovered” IMA® several years after joining Campbell’s, I didn’t initially pursue the CMA, believing my years of experience (and CPA and MBA) made up for any potential benefits. After joining IMA’s Global Board, though, I was encouraged to take up the CMA challenge. I’m so glad I did and earned my CMA!

 

The CMA turned out to be the perfect certification for my career as a management accountant, equipping me with invaluable skills that I hadn’t learned in my CPA or MBA studies. The breadth, rigor, and content of the exam are incredible. I have sharpened the tools in my management accounting toolbox, especially in areas such as decision analysis, risk management, and strategic planning. In some cases, I refreshed my knowledge of topics I had learned about in college. In others, I went deeply into topics that impact me every day. And in still other cases, I covered topics I had never come across before but now incorporate into my thinking. I can confidently say that in my current CFO role, I use my CMA skills daily. Thanks to my CMA journey, I’m a more effective finance executive.

 

Whether you’re a student, a young professional, or a seasoned executive, have you considered becoming a CMA? The journey will entail personal commitment and sacrifice, as all things worth pursuing do. Just embarking on this journey will set you apart from your peers. By sharpening your knowledge of management accounting, you’ll be a more capable management accounting and finance professional and leader. And by passing the rigorous CMA exam, you’ll prove to yourself, and to others, that you have mastered this important body of knowledge, that you have earned gold!

 

J. Stephen McNally, CMA, CPA, is CFO of Plastic Technologies Inc. (PTI) Group of Companies and Chair of the IMA Global Board of Directors. He’s also a member of IMA’s Toledo Chapter. Contact Steve at steve.mcnally@imanet.org, or follow him on LinkedIn.
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