Overcoming Challenges, Struggles and Road Blocks, by PJ Morales

profile_paul-joseph-moralesChallenges, we all have a handful. Belonging to the working class presents so many challenges and to add up working on a night shift makes it almost impossible to accomplish anything. But this wasn’t my dream.

It has always been my goal to enrich myself with intangible things; empower myself with something that can’t be taken away from me. It is, perhaps, for such reason that I’m always fond of studying, reading or just experiencing things but this wasn’t always me. After graduating from college for more than a decade ago I took a chance on taking the CPA licensure exam but I wasn’t as fortunate as my colleagues. After failing the board exams I told to myself, I’ll just work myself to death and let time take its natural course.

Being an accounting graduate during that time with no impressive curriculum vitae and an “underboard” individual I don’t have much of an opportunity for growth for my career and I just watched as time went by. As the years added up I was contented with what I currently have and never thought of my future. Then one fine day I had a talk with my aunt. She encouraged me to take up my Master’s degree since I’ve given up on becoming a CPA. It took me 4.5 years to finish my masters at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business and it was during this time I saw the advantages of having “further” (post-graduate) studies. How new opportunities and career growth open up for you. Thus, my journey to seek new knowledge began.

After finishing my masters and several certificate/short courses I told myself, “what’s next”? What should I do next? My friends told me to give it a rest and enjoy what I currently have but I told to myself, I’m not stopping. I think it’s about time to face the CPA board exams. After consulting with several friends and assessing my current role it wouldn’t be an advantage to take the CPA board exams since I might not be able to practice it. Working in big auditing firms has been my dream but I’m on a different route now.

My friends suggested to me to take the CMA, CFA, CIA or CISA certification. After much deliberation I’ve decided I wanted to pursue the CMA certification since it made more sense with the work that I have. I’m dealing more on the ERP industry, project management, budgeting and forecasting software so this would be the right choice for me.

I then googled “CMA review Makati” since I don’t want to get too far away from Makati and I also work here I don’t want to go somewhere else. This was when I saw Insights Financial Review. After seeing their review center in Medical Towers which is just 2 blocks away from our office I did not hesitate to inquire that night through their website. In less than 12 hours I got a reply from Ma’am Ronie Paras and with the detailed program and quote. When I saw how much it would cost me I was taken aback. It entailed a huge investment. But this did not stop me. I remembered asking her “do you accept credit card payments?” Sir Angel then gave me an irresistible term. So in less than 3 days I ended up submitting all the required documents and paying for the tuition fee! Plus, I have a close friend/colleague with me who enrolled at the same time for the program.

This was when sleepless and social deprivation days and nights began. Classes during that time was on a weekend so this technically works for me. My shift starts at 8PM and ends up at 5AM which extends till 7-8AM so the game plan was to work, then attend class after. The grande brewed coffee at 711 across the center became an instant best friend. Never was a day that passed by without having it, so cheers to that! As weeks passed by the struggles were becoming real and imminent. Juggling work and review was really tough. I had to ensure I gave at least 3-4 hours every day just to study and catch up with the lecture. With classmates who were fresh graduates and young professionals (mostly CPAs) I felt the undue pressure not to be left out. I felt like an old dog who can’t learn new tricks! You see, MBA and CMA review are two different things so I lagged behind most of the time. But I also remember that as long as the dog is willing then it’ll learn.

So, in order to catch up I need to make some cuts… Movies, travelling, catching up with friends, and even my gym time was all gone! I had to give them all up since I’m not all that bright and needed some oil, it took a wee bit more time for me to really relearn and remember the lectures. Knowing the same struggles that my friend and I had gone through, Sir Angel was very generous in offering us a one-on-one session with Sir Leo Yatco and so we had review sessions during weekdays so we could catch up! There were instances where a decent sleep was nowhere to be found. But surprisingly we were able to adjust and gave us a better sense on what the lectures were (again super thank you, Sir Leo).

Took up the Part 1 exam on June and it was a nerve wracking one! The “screening” at the Prometric exam site was too intense I felt like I was going through immigration! After answering the multiple choice questions and clicking on SUBMIT, was the “longest seconds” of my life. After 5-7 seconds I saw a set of instructions in front of me and just did next, next, next without understanding if it was the essay section or the survey that I’m clinking next to. Luckily I passed the Part 1 exams so the same schedule was repeated. Same preparation and same sleepless days and nights for me. I then took the part 2 exams on the same year on October. I then told to myself this will be the best Christmas ever! Dec. 11 came with the results and I received an email… Sadly, I did not see any congratulatory remarks. I remember I was chatting with Sir Angel that time and he encouraged me to take it one more time, never give up and reminded me of my goal. On the same night while talking to Sir Angel, I registered for the February retake of the examination.

This time there were more sleepless days and nights and my friends almost never felt my presence. I was a prisoner of Hock, my study-buddy, my calculator and my desk. I kept on reminding myself that failures are just a test of how strong a person is, you will never know your strength unless you experience defeat. It is ok to stay down when you fall but get up and make sure to pick yourself up, keep it all together and stay focused. The release for the exams was due on April. I dare not ask this for my birthday gift but God was so generous that He finally gave me my heart’s desire.

At the end of the day I realized that it wasn’t all about the credentials and the position that we have that define our success. It is all about the hard work despite the road blocks, persistence in times of difficulty, perseverance in achieving our dream, humility in knowing when to accept help, being grateful to the people who help, and encourage people who need a little sunshine plus a whole lot of faith in God will not just define success but you as a person for God. All these were made clearer to me when I took my CMA journey. I’m forever thankful to my family for the support and friends for not leaving me. To my insights family especially to Sir Angel and Sir Leo for never giving up on me and to our professors, Sir Kenji, Sir Edison, Sir Eddie, Ma’am Christee, Sir Michael, Ma’am Miriam, Ms. Clarissa and Ms. Maricar.

About the author: Paul Joseph B. Morales CMA, MBA, is a graduate from PSBA manila with a degree in BS Accountancy. He also obtained his Master’s in Business Administration at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business and is currently working as a senior customer care analyst in a large accounting/IT software company in Makati.

My CMA Quest, by Naomi Angulo

photo_naomi-anguloI was an Accountancy student at San Beda College. I barely made it in this course and never with the CPA board examinations.

And so life goes on, and fortunately for me I have found a job at one of the biggest real estate developers in the country. It was interesting at first. Eventually I got so used with my tasks that it became so routinary, it was no longer a challenge for me. I started consulting this with my friend. He was very supportive with my struggles at work and suggested that I take CMA exams if I’m really up for something challenging.

I have already heard of this CMA credential during undergrad, but I really had no idea where to start. I researched everywhere and asked a few colleagues about it, until I stumbled upon Insights Financial Review School’s website. At first I wasn’t even sure if I would really want to take this certification course since I lost my self-esteem the time that I failed in the CPA board examination. Except for my parents and few close friends, no one knew about my plan to take the CMA exam. I didn’t let our company know. I even asked my parents not to tell our relatives. I was really scared of failure and I didn’t want everyone to know in case what I’m so very afraid of come true.

Early this year, I took the Part 2 exam and received a bad news. I couldn’t even explain what I felt that time. It’s like that I was already expecting for an unfavorable result. Of course, I felt bad about myself for being a failure once again. Looking at my results frustrated me. I almost made it! I just missed it by a notch. But all my efforts wasn’t enough. I failed.

Honestly, I almost gave up. I was planning to stop taking part 1. I already told my parents that I didn’t want to continue with the review anymore. Frustration and depression really got me this time. But then, friends that I met at Insights inspired me to give it another shot.

It took a lot of pondering and courage to push this CMA dream. I got so tired and frustrated that I made an all or nothing deal with myself. By August 2016, either I should be a CMA or be contented with my current life. I was scheduled to take Part 1 for June. I convinced Sir Angel, our course mentor, to let me retake the Part 2 in May. He told me that it was an aggressive strategy. I attended special review classes just to prove that I was really serious in taking both parts in one testing window. Sir Angel finally registered me for the Part 2 exam and at that time, it became very clear to me that I would be facing not one, but two giants.

To give myself a solid fighting chance I used up most of my vacation leaves to attend classes and study. I had to go to work earlier than supposed to be so I won’t spend overtime on weekends and be able to attend our regular review classes. To be honest, I literally cried countless times due to stress and fatigue. Somewhere along this journey, I found my grit. This was my “now or never” and “all or nothing” moment. “I will become a CMA after June 2016”, was all written on my face each day.

You reap what you sow. Dreams do come true. Such cliches really make sense. After all the disappointment, frustrations and sacrifices, I finally made it! As of September 2016, I am now a Certified Management Accountant. It was, more than anything else, a personal victory because I didn’t let myself down this time.

CMA is not just a challenge; it requires pure hardwork and dedication of your craft. No less.

So what’s next? That’s also my question actually. Right now I’m currently looking for other opportunities and I guess they are gradually showing up. For example, I was given a new and challenging task at our company after my boss learned that I passed CMA exams.

More than the things I’ve learned in this review, what I value the most are the tons of experience, lessons and friends that I will forever cherish. I guess you just don’t stop when you’re comfortable; you simply never stop learning and innovating yourself. You can achieve something you wouldn’t even think you can if you continue to challenge yourself and not settle for mediocrity.

 

About the Author: Naomi Q. Angulo, CMA, was a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy graduate at San Beda College, Mendiola, and currently works as Treasury Associate at one of the largest real estate developers in the country.

“Road to CMA”, this way

profile-photo_angelo-b-villadores-webIt all started during my last years in college when I was designated to represent my school for a competition. I was one of those fortunate students who would frequently be sent off to inter-school competitions, and out-of-town conventions. The said contest was composed of Certified Management Accountant (CMA) topics which were basically Management Advisory Services’ scope, which I began appreciating more and become attached to.

Came the October 2015 CPA Licensure Examinations’ (CPALE) results, I felt like I could be something more, that there’s more to life than just that, that my CPA title would not be an end, but rather a beginning of something more exciting. From there, I reckoned the time when I stumbled across a Facebook page of a CMA review center, Insights Financial Review Center.

At first, I was hesitant to ask about the program, as I knew it would involve a large amount of money, plus it would take away much of my time and require tremendous effort. But I had this urge; I wanted to prove that I could actually be someone much better; I wanted to differentiate myself from other CPA professionals. I wanted to become a CMA so badly, and so I took a leap of faith. I proceeded.

After few arrangements with the Review directors, we agreed to plan for my test for both exam parts, targeting the May/June testing window.

I was invited once to attend a dinner meeting with other CMA candidates, some of whom were already at least part-qualifiers. We were asked to tell about why we decided to vie for this journey. There were veterans already. But likewise there were some young professionals too. Stories were colorful and inspiring, however I had nothing to share, as I was relatively young, and all I wanted to do was really to earn the certification, period. All I had then, that I could show off, was just my fresh knowledge from the CPALE that I could leverage, and my determination.

In the course of my preparation for my examinations, I have realized that being a working student was one serious struggle. I had to ensure I could deliver quality output at work, while being able to study, or at least make myself ready for my Saturday and Sunday classes. Additionally, I also had to catch up with my family and friends. Juggling tasks from work, school, family, social life wasn’t an easy endeavor, that at some point I had either to give up one or more to accommodate another. It was always a matter of knowing which things to prioritize.

There were instances, as well, when I lost focus, and didn’t know what to do. I would wake up one day, and tell myself that I didn’t want it anymore, that I would rather quit than pursue, to relieve me from stress. Luckily enough, I had my mother, my friends and Sir Angel, to remind me of the reasons why I started in the first place, and put me back on track again.

When the date set for my exams were near, I started panicking. I only had four months to get myself ready. I just couldn’t eliminate the doubt of not making it through, and even considered to postpone my exams. I took the risk, and didn’t change my exam plans.

I felt so discouraged sometimes, but funny enough, I would pull myself together, back again and keep my aim locked. When others would say, “don’t mind the fear, ignore the pressure”, I would say, “Let them burn, let them consume you until you feel numb about them.” Let the fear of disappointment be the fuel for you to strive, let the pressure your peers put on you be the drive to push you for another extra mile and prove them you can.

I had this mindset that I never believed in failure. I would either succeed or I would learn and come out better.

By the grace of the Almighty, I managed to pass both Part 1 and 2, when the results were rolled out last August. I am grateful for all those people who stuck by me all throughout my journey, especially my ever-supportive mom who relentlessly prayed for my success. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Insights team of instructors, for helping me draw a clear direction to my young career.

Right where I thought I was about to end my CMA story, another opportunity knocked on my door and I warmly welcomed it. I am now affiliated with Insights as a part-time CMA instructor, fulfilling my long-term aspiration of becoming a mentor.

I put myself into this with no clear understanding as to how it could impact my professional growth, yet now I could clearly say that the CMA designation has become a life changer. It became an avenue to discover new potentials I had, build a strong network of professional accountants, and further enhance and nourish my knowledge.

 

About the Author: Angelo B. Villadores graduated Cum Laude in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at Lyceum of the Philippines University – Batangas. A Certified Public Accountant since October 2015, and a Certified Management Accountant Exam Passer since August 2016, he currently works as Financial Reporting Analyst in a big international bank. He enjoys reading novels and watch movies in his spare time.

My Journey to Becoming a CMA, by Sam Corpin

grad_samantha-joyce-corpin-webHaving been an officer of Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants (JPIA) of our school, Chiang Kai Shek College in my fourth year, I had the chance to share ideas as to what activities we could have in the entire year. Since I wanted to lengthen my name with acronyms besides CPA someday, I suggested seminars concentrating on other career opportunities. One of these is the CMA (Certified Management Accountant).

We contacted Sir Edison Chu, a cousin of my classmate, who was an officer of IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) Philippine Chapter then. August 22, 2015 had been settled as the day of our seminar.

I really thought that once the seminar ended, we will all just move on and continue with things we were doing before. But when the seminar nearly ended, Sir Angel Secerio Jr., one of the guest speakers, gave an extremely encouraging offer for fourth year students wherein students will only pay the CMA program fees once they pass the examination. Because of the excellent offer, three of my classmates and I joined. However, because of fear (of failure), huge investment fee involved and other circumstances, we all backed out.

After a few days, a message from Sir Angel appeared on my Facebook chat box telling that if I want to, I could be a full scholar to be sponsored by Insights. I told my classmates about it and one of them reaccepted the “Pass Now, Pay Later” offer. However, even before the review started and after we got registered to IMA, we once again almost quit fearing that we might fail and disappoint ourselves, our loved ones, and Insights. Fortunately, we are blessed to have our IMA mentors and college professors for continually encouraging us to continue on, not letting us to give up even before the battle begins.

As part of our exam strategy we had taken CMA Part 2 examination first. Our journey to pass this first exam was never easy. We were still studying in college during that time, and our classes were scheduled from Monday to Saturday; we got only Sunday as our rest day. Joining the CMA review had taken even this day away from us, but for good reason. I thought that it could be so exhausting but since our reviewers were motivating, we just enjoyed our review. Furthermore, it was just a little sacrifice for us to make it.

When my examination got nearer and nearer, I was always saying to myself that I can’t fail. I once failed from a college entrance examination and it really lowered my self-esteem. It was one of the events in my life that stocked into my mind and it wasn’t good. Hence, I really made myself try hard to pass.

My Part 2 examination had been scheduled to January 7, 2016, but because of fear and unpreparedness, we rescheduled our exam to the last day available, February 24th of the same year.

When the day of the examination came, something even happened. My companion and I had agreed to meet at a specific place but since I came early, I went somewhere near to eat first. I was expecting for her to text me but no message from her popped out. I was texting and calling her but there were no replies. An hour before the examination I called her parents and was told that she already left. I grabbed a taxi after and I was literally crying inside because I felt like I was left by. I also thought I would be late and not be admitted. Good thing I was able to make it.

The result had been released on the 6th day of the month of April. It was already 11:00 o’clock in the evening when my classmate called and told me that she passed. Nervousness ran through my blood immediately as only two of us from our school joined the battle and it’s a shame if I failed and she passed. Gratefully, a positive result had been sent to my email.

Reviewing for Part 1 examination has been tougher since we were simultaneously reviewing for CPA licensure examination. I already got confused what to review first. Not reviewing even for a day for the CPA examination was already a big thing. However, realizing that CMA title was an international one and my examination for it would come first, having been scheduled on June 23rd, my time had been mostly spent reviewing for it during May and June. Luckily, no more dramatic scenes happened on my examination day. The result had been released in August and I was really thankful when I was told that I did it despite the difficulties.

Fears, doubts and difficulties came into my way during the CMA review and examination, but I continued anyway. While I’m writing this, I have realized that our only opponent towards success is us, ourselves. As what Paulo Coelho said in his book The Alchemist, even the universe conspires in helping us to achieve our goals but we ourselves block the opportunities to win. Success is a fruit of good attitudes, and being fearful is not one of those.

Our future relies on what we do today so we should not waste our time doubting. We have to believe and do our best rather.

About the Author:  Samantha Joyce Corpin is a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy cum laude graduate from Chiang Kai Shek College last April, 2016. She is the eldest daughter of her elementary teacher mom and policeman dad.  She passed the CMA examination this year and is incessantly hoping to pass the CPA examination this Oct’16. She plans to work with the Big 4 firm and pursue multiple certifications in the future.