The CGMA Program: Adding the Right Tools to Your Career Basket
Lucky for me, my career has taken me through several different jobs in manufacturing, and one thing I’ve noticed across the board is that companies are increasingly looking for more diverse skillsets in their management accountants. For CPAs to meet the demand, we have to take a critical look at our own professional development to make sure we foster key talents like strategic thinking, communications, leadership and business partnering. A manager once told me that you have a “career basket,” and you need to fill the basket with the skills that will get you ahead. It’s not always easy to find the resources to develop and hone these skills, but it’s very necessary to getting—and staying—ahead.
The journey, not just the destination
I first learned about the CGMA Program through my state society—shout out to the South Carolina Association! After reading about the courses and all the resources it included—on topics like business partnering, leadership, management, communications and strategy—I knew it was the right next step to help me grow in my career.
It wasn’t a difficult realization to come to. The AICPA and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) have done extensive research with employers worldwide to find out exactly what skills they look for in their finance folks, and developed the program based on that knowledge. The learning is completely relevant to anyone who is looking to develop or advance their skills as a management accountant.
As an AICPA member, I was already eligible to sit for the CGMA exam—a three-hour, comprehensive case study that tests both theoretical and practical knowledge in a real-world scenario—to obtain the designation.
As crazy as it may sound, I enjoyed studying for the exam. The CGMA Program is self-paced, so I was able to study around my work and personal schedule. And the content was really interesting. The case study I sat for was based on a company in the oil industry, which is totally different than consumer products (the industry I work in). So, I had the opportunity to learn a bit about a new industry, do research and look at their competitors. It was almost like playing a game, with the added benefit that it got me thinking outside the box and coming up with strategies I could apply to my own company.
Going through the program and earning my CGMA designation really provided me with the edge and the confidence I needed to expand my reach and tell the world: Not only do I have technical, people, leadership and business skills, but I can apply them. I was even able to apply my new knowledge in real time to help both my company and my career.
The right skills in your career basket
When I first brought up the CGMA Program with my boss, he was excited because he saw it as an opportunity for me to develop the skills needed to best help the company. Specifically, he was interested in how the program would help me enhance my big-picture view of the organization and how all the different functions successfully work together. Having his support enhanced the whole experience for me, and once I passed the exam and attained the designation, my boss was even more excited by how confidently I was now acting as a business partner, helping define where the business is going and assertively leading my teams, both within finance and cross-functionally.
Here’s the bottom line: Any company that hires a financial professional with the CGMA designation can be confident that they’re hiring someone who is able to guide better business decisions. And, as an individual, once you start the CGMA Program, you’ll have the confidence that you have what companies are looking for. The program truly helps you prove to yourself that you have what it takes to be successful, to be a competitive management accountant. And you’ll know without a shadow of a doubt that the things you are placing in your career basket are helping you achieve your goals. Thanks to my CGMA experience, my basket is overflowing.
Jessica Glenney, CPA, CGMA, is the Accounting Manager at ELAC in Chapin, SC. Hear more about her journey to the CGMA designation in this video interview.
Interested in learning how to expand your ‘career basket?’ Visit cgma.org/program.