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Lifelong Learning: The Fuel Driving Value Within an Organization

At the last meeting of the AICPA’s governing Council, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion between three esteemed colleagues--all of whom are CGMA designation holders. Along with Bill Schneider, CPA, CGMA, Deirdre O’Connor, FCMA, CGMA and Ash Noah, CPA, FCMA, CGMA, I spoke about the latest issues affecting management accountants in business and industry--and how the education and experience that lead the earning the CGMA designation, and the continued learning that each of them do, helps them shape their unique, but equally phenomenal careers.

A topic we spent a good portion of our time on was the importance of dedicating oneself to lifelong learning. “It’s essential to learn if you want to remain relevant and credible,” said Ash. The other two panelists agreed: “If you’re keep learning new things and building on that base, you become valuable—not because of what you know right now, but because you have the potential to learn whatever it is [your employer] needs you to do,” said Bill Schneider.

When I think about lifelong learning, I think it’s the fuel that drives the value within an organization. The CGMA team has done some work on non-financial assets and the importance of human capital, as well as research on the skills today’s finance teams are looking for in their employees--and where gaps lie between that desire and the talent available in the marketplace.

While programs offered by the AICPA and state societies helps CPAs keep up with their professional development in the areas of accounting and auditing, it’s not always easy to find courses related to management and leadership. Harvard ManageMentor--a new benefit to CGMA designation holders—provides dozens of ways to build and maintain these types of skills. And it’s available on-demand, 24/7 to meet the needs of busy professionals.

“You own the responsibility to keep yourself challenged,” said Deirdre. “Look at who succeeds during the tough times and who doesn’t. Know your craft, be the expert and when things change, make sure you get up to speed on what those changes are.”

How do you keep yourself challenged? Have you used Harvard ManageMentor or similar resources? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.

More clips from the Business and Industry Panel Discussion are available on CGMA.org.

Arleen Thomas, CPA, CGMA, Senior Vice President - Management Accounting, American Institute of CPAs.

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