Conquering the Impossible

Looking back, the thought of having two titles, let alone attaining them in one year, never really crossed my mind. Back then, I was so focused on preparing for my goal to do well in the CPA Licensure Exam. However, I was already aware of the CMA certification through hearing and reading about it. During my last semester in the undergrad, one of my professors reached out and introduced to me the certification. He explained how the title will help me to be m/ore competitive in the global environment and how he can help me in attaining that CMA title. I was hesitant at first and I did not really think it through. In the end, I decided to just go with the flow, do what everybody else is doing as most of my classmates went for it. Without much thinking, I signed up for it.

But then again, the journey was not smooth sailing as doubt started creeping in. Will I be able to pass and meet their expectations? More importantly, will I be able to pay for the fee? As most of us are aware of, the costs for the review and exam registration is not a joke. Gladly, the program that was offered to me made it easier in terms of preparation for the exams and payment scheme.

After braving through the tough CPA Licensure Exam in October 2018, we went straight to the two-week review period for the CMA Examinations afterwards. It was not easy as most of us were already exhausted after the CPALE and the time given to us to prepare seemed too short at that time. It was a tough two weeks as we had to master all the remaining topics in such a short period. The agony of waiting for the CPALE results definitely did not help as the results may come anytime during the review period. Nevertheless, the CPA-CMA review program definitely helped as everything we have studied for CPALE were still fresh and most lessons are still relevant for the CMA Exams. We took the CMA exams the same month we took the CPALE.

Fast forward to December 2018, results came and most of us were ecstatic as we have already achieved our goal of having two titles in one year. Not until I passed that 2-part exam that I realized that it is, in fact, possible.

Just when I thought that God has given me so much blessings already, another news came from Sir Angel that was unexpected. Before the CMA Ball, he told me that because of being 5th placer in the CPALE, I would be awarded a scholarship for the CMA program, meaning all the fees will be waived.  I was overwhelmed and truly grateful as this scholarship did not only help me and my family but it also inspired me to always do more and to always aim for excellence in everything that I do.

It did not end there yet. January came and I received another exciting news that I will be awarded a Student Certificate of Distinguished Performance for being one of the top scorers in our testing window and that I, together with the other awardees, will be going to the US to personally receive our awards. Just last June 2019, we went to San Diego, California to attend the IMA’s Annual Conference and Expo 2019 wherein we personally received our awards and participated in the conference’s educational sessions.

I am truly delighted and thankful to God that I was given so much more than what I aimed for. I wouldn’t be able to achieve all this without the help of Insights team, especially Sir Angel and Sir Cabug, and my family who have been very supportive of me all throughout. To all aspiring CMAs, you’ll never know it is possible until you try. Dream big and do your best. It’s not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Norman Vincent Peale

 

About the Author:

Charissa Mae S. Espinola is a magna cum laude graduate from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Bachlor of Science in Accountancy. She earned her CPA credential in October 2018, obtaining the fifth highest score of 90.17%. Also in October 2018, she took the 2-Part CMA examination and was awarded the Student Certificate of Distinguished Performance award for earning the second highest exam score among students who took the examination worldwide. She currently works as an external auditor in one of the Big Four accounting firms.

Fearlessly Destined

Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. Ever since I was a child, I am already a believer of that saying. However, there are things that we cannot control. Some things come unexpectedly which happen to be one of the best in our lives.

Since childhood, I was already active in school, may it be in academics or extra-curricular activities. From elementary to university life, I really enjoyed joining different organizations while keeping up with my academics . Having the curiosity led me to question and study those around me. When I earned my two bachelor’s degrees in 1) Management Accounting and 2) Accountancy, I went to Manila to review for the board exams. It so happened that I met Mr. Angel Secerio and Ms. Ronie Paras who gave me more details about the CMA Program. Upon learning more about it, I became so interested and consulted my parents who gladly agreed to provide me the resources I needed. It was also a good thing to have availed of the “Pass Now, Pay Later” scheme given by Insights Financial Review Services. I was thankful because it was an opportunity for me to further advance my career.

During my review days at Insights, I always looked forward to attending the review sessions. Aside from the learning I had during my university years and from Wiley Gold review materials, I learned something new and deep everyday. I found the lessons truly enjoyable as it also tackled practical lessons in economics, finance, and accounting. The review became more enjoyable because the review rooms were very conducive to learning. The instructors and people from Insights were very approachable. Sleepless nights and days passed and I didn’t notice my examination days were getting closer. I still continued to study and practice using the review materials I had from Insights and Wiley. The support and guidance I had especially from my family gave me the strength and the will to do my best during the review and exam days.

During the review proper until the present, IMA sends updates, news, and more about the profession and the organization. But one day, a particular email caught my attention. It was an invitation to attend the IMA 100th Annual Conference and Expo to be held in San Diego, California. Deep inside, I wanted to attend that prestigious event. I even jokingly asked my parents if they would allow me to go to the USA if I passed the CMA exam. Luckily, they said yes. However, they told me not to think about it yet, but just focus on the review and exam instead. That statement from my parents made me more motivated to stay on track and do better. Focus, focus, and focus.

Days  passed  and  examination  days  came.  I  was  amazed  because I found myself more prepared than what I expected to be. The preparation was really harder and longer than the actual battle. It took sleepless nights and days to actually prepare for a day or two for an exam.

As I was soundly sleeping, a loud thunder was heard and the rain fell which woke me up in the middle of the night. I could not go back to sleep so I decided to check my email. I was surprised and nervous when I saw an email from IMA with a subject, “ICMA Examination Results”. I could barely click on it as my hands were shaking. Luckily, I passed the exam with a high score. I could not believe that I did it. It was an achievement that I, alone, could not have done without the support and guidance of my parents, siblings, family, friends, professors, reviewers, and Insights. I owe this one especially to God, my parents, and the Insights team.

I finally applied for my visa upon passing the exam so I could attend the event in San Diego, California. Luckily, I had my visa approved. The conference week in June 2019 came and I was really excited to meet a lot of people. I learned a lot from the conference and enjoyed it together with  my  IMA  Philippines  colleagues,  Insights  team,    and  newly  found  friends  from  the conference. It really was a one of a kind experience. Now, as my CMA journey starts, I begin it with enthusiasm, dedication, and courage. Who knows what is up in the future? We’ll figure it out.

Our destiny is not really a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It may be pre-planned but it is always us who decides on things – whether we continue it or not. Never let fear be a barrier from pursuing what we want.  Some setbacks, when used as stepping stones, serve as challenges for a major achievement. Always strive to do better. For in the end, it will pave way for bigger rewards and ultimately greater things in life.

 

About the author:

Von Jozelle Galinato Mangibin graduated cum laude in both BS Management Accounting, and BS Accountancy at Saint Louis University batch 2017 and 2018, respectively. She is fond of going places, meeting new people, and learning from her different experiences wherever situated. At present, she is enjoying her vacation in the USA.

#RoadtoSanDiego

What started as a joke became one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

It all started when CMA began to be offered to higher ups in our college. It seemed pretty normal at first, getting another certification aside from becoming a CPA. Personally, I did not pay much attention as I always had other things in mind. However, hearing news that someone from our college received an award and will be awarded in the United States caught my attention. I immediately thought what if I could also get a chance to receive an award. It would have been nice to go to a new place. Then, the rest of college life happened and this was buried in my “what ifs”.

During my undergraduate years, I always said that I enjoyed Economics and Financial Management more than Accounting itself. I really devoted effort in understanding these topics which were not really a focus in the accountancy curriculum. I also found management accounting subjects enjoyable not only because of the topics but because of the international references we use which contains real corporate applications. I’m the kind of guy who reads the stories in small boxes. This was something fresh compared to recurring problems in financial accounting or other topics.

When an offer for us to take CMA after our CPA licensure examination was given to us, I was hesitant at first. First of all, it was expensive, even if it was on a “Pass-now, Pay-later” scheme. Second, the review would only start right after the last day of the CPALE. However, it was said that global top performers will be awarded in San Diego for this year. I think that line pushed me to register, while jokingly saying #RoadtoSanDiego.

At that point I did not realize it would soon come true.

I took comprehensive examinations in preparation for CMA in the middle of my CPALE review without much preparation. I remember even going out the night before those examinations. It was not that easy taking the exams with topics you have not given much focus for the CPALE. However, I did find this enjoyable, mainly because I get to assess knowledge not from short-term memory but from embedded or stock knowledge. It is a “You will know it when you feel it” kind of thing. This really helped me trust my instincts and practice critical thinking.

The CPALE review came like a breeze and so did the examination. It was a tiring run, and now I just realized I have another two weeks of review for another set of examinations. What pushed me to continue the run was that I may not correct my shortcomings from the CPALE, but I can make sure it won’t happen in the CMA. In addition to this, the results of the CPALE was released the night before my CMA Part 1 exam, which really pushed me to translate my excitement to motivation for the CMA.

Adding to the motivation was the Wiley online learning reference available to us which really augmented my mastery of the topics. Listening and taking notes did contribute to learning, but when you are given a limited amount of time, for me it is best to get ahead of the review sessions and just focus on the parts you need to master. I did my best to maximize time by finishing the Wiley Gold online study material provided during review and finish more questions through its simulated examinations. In this short span of time, I was surprised with the amount of questions I finished answering, and I maintained this routine for the next week.

The essay part was new and challenging, but I did not let it become a challenge. By the time you are reading this, you might realize that I talk or write a lot. I had to deal with it through limited time. I did not memorize anything, but I did browse through the entire CMA review textbook before taking both parts. I managed to finish it within the day by focusing on things I still have not mastered, and quickly skimming over those I already know. During the actual essay part, all I did was express myself and let my mind direct the answers.

Looking back, I realized that I wouldn’t have made it through without the effort to retain somehow topics learned years ago. I credited this to my approach to focus on concepts during the undergraduate years, even if I have not answered many problems. I did not excel much in my scores back then but I know that I could retain my knowledge on these topics, and that surely helped me in taking the CMA exam.

Passing CMA is just the beginning of my journey, as I explore the professional world and enrich my knowledge with actual experience. My CMA journey is neither the best path nor the only path to take, but I did learn something from this: the next time you would want something, you can really get it, but first, you’ve got to earn it!

 

About the author: Marc graduated magna cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. He earned his CPA License in October 2018, obtaining the fourth highest score of 90.33%. He also took the two-part CMA Examination during the October 2018 window and was awarded the Priscilla S. Payne Outstanding Student Performance Award, by obtaining the highest score among CMA takers in the student category. He is currently working as an external auditor in one of the Big Four accounting firms.

Going For It!

You’ve got to earn it.

Those were the words uttered repeatedly on the first day of our CMA review classes. At first, we thought it was quite funny, hearing Dean Kenji Asano say it over and over with full conviction as the CMA Ambassador in the Philippines. Looking back, I realize that those words still resound to me until this day – but now with a different light – have I earned it?

I was in my 5th year in college when I decided I wanted to become a Certified Management Accountant. I had a lot of second guessing – considering that I wasn’t planning to pursue further studies or take additional certifications until I knew what was relevant to my chosen career path. Certifications, especially international ones, also tend to be costly. As a student, I didn’t want to impose further unnecessary financial burden to my parents. But I thought that the chance to obtain a globally-recognized certification, even before I graduate, would open greater opportunities both for my personal and professional development.

Conveniently, UST-AMV College of Accountancy provided us, students, opportunities to gain a wider perspective of what was ahead of us. On the other hand, Insights Financial Review Services structured payment terms as well as review and examination schedules in a way that made earning an international certification credential very accessible. The only question left was whether I can do it.

I did not have the chance to worry about the CMA Exam until the time when I had to take it. I just decided that I would, and took one step at a time from then on – last semester in college, graduation, reviewing and preparing for the CPA Licensure Examination. With God’s grace, I was fortunate enough to get through them. There was not much time to recover since a day after the CPALE, CMA review classes instantaneously began.

With all honesty, reviewing was a struggle at that point. A part of me just wanted to be free of all the academic responsibilities and slack off without guilt – which was obviously not possible. I had already invested in the program, and failing was not an option, although I believe I wasn’t in the best condition to study anymore. My other batchmates were either applying for a job, enjoying themselves someplace I dreamt of going as well, or simply catching extra hours of sleep. Good thing we were reminded, “You’ve got to earn it.”

I did my best to absorb all the information I can get during the review classes. I made it a point to answer the materials the day they were given and take down notes that may be helpful later on. I also utilized the top-class Wiley Gold online study course which helped me get in to the best exam-taking mode possible. But with one week to prepare for each part of the exam, I regretted not starting earlier. I feared that I may not be able to finish everything on time so I focused on topics I wasn’t very familiar with, read discussions on them and answered extra practice questions. Wiley’s digital flashcard notes were very helpful too when I needed a review on major discussion points. When things get monotonous, I read through sample essay questions to figure out answering through them. But that was just me. I couldn’t have done it without the foundation on management accounting topics which I owe to my college professors, and my friends with whom I exchanged questions and reviewed with until the moment we had to enter the Prometric examination room.

One week flew by and it was time to take the first part of the exam. In fact, the results of the CPALE came out on that same day. I wasn’t able to celebrate entirely but it sure gave me the confidence I needed to get through another exam. By the end of October, I was through with all the exams I had to take. I honestly couldn’t tell how I did so I waited hopefully for the results. I was already very grateful to pass both parts of the examination when a congratulatory email from IMA came six weeks later.

Now I ask again, have I earned it? I’d like to believe I am still in the process of doing so. As with anything, it is a series of being brave enough to make decisions, and even braver to own up to them, amidst doubts, challenges, and whatnot. My CMA journey, though only beginning, has taught me that you’re never really ready for anything. You can only hope to do so much and pray that God gets you through it. So I say when someone tells you that you’ve got to earn it, just go for it.

 

About the author: Francyne graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in BS Accountancy and earned her CPA License in 2018. She took the 2-part CMA Examination during the October 2018 window and was awarded the Student Certificate of Distinguished Performance by the ICMA Board of Regents at the IMA Conference and Expo held in San Diego, California. She is currently working as an external auditor with one of the top accounting firms in the Philippines.

The Long Journey That Led To Victory

I think my passion for Management Accounting started out during the first semester of my senior year as an Accountancy student in college. It was the first time I ever encountered Cost Accounting and I was immediately fascinated by the practical applications. It definitely was not the easiest subject but I found myself being more diligent in this one more than any of my other subjects. Since then, I had always been more excited and interested about taking other Management Accounting courses until my 5th year in college. I guess it was the less rigorous and stringent rules involved in Management Accounting against Financial Accounting.

During that time, I seriously considered taking on work as a Cost Accountant in a private company by the time I graduated. So while my classmates were gunning for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, I was already playing with the idea of eventually being certified as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

It took me 4 years before I actually decided to finally pursue my CMA. Between the time I graduated and got my CMA, I got my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, pursued a career as a tax professional in a Big 4 auditing firm, and finally landed a position as the Head of Budget & Planning in one of the top food kiosk operators in the Philippines. It is a position I currently hold today and was one of the keys that eventually led me to get my CMA to benefit both my professional development and achieve my organization’s objectives. I was excited to finally be a management accountant in action and help my company lay out the groundwork of the budget and planning system that it follows today. I was fortunate enough that my superior, herself a college instructor and long-time supporter of learning, and upper management supported my desire to pursue this certification and agreed to sponsor my review and exams. And so I started the 6-month journey under the umbrella of Insights Financial Review Services.

It was not easy juggling the demands of a full-time job and finding time to prepare for the exams. I do have to say that taking the exams as a working professionals granted me a different and valuable perspective in approaching situational problems through real-life situations I may have encountered at work, lessons which I will not find in any textbook.

Weekends were spent in review classes and I dedicated at least 2 hours each weeknight to make sure I covered all the materials and answer at least 50 multiple choice questions. Consistency was key in keeping my study rhythm and making sure I don’t slack off even on the busiest of work days.

My scheduled exams came at one of the most hectic points during the year when projects were at their busiest and the budget season was kicking in. After sitting through each exam, I did not mind the wait as I went about business as usual.

When the results came late one night in November, I was overwhelmed with happiness at seeing the words of congratulations from the IMA and excitedly shared to my family, friends, and colleagues who tirelessly supported me throughout.

I didn’t expect to be overwhelmed again on January the following year when I got a text message from Insights CMA Review that I had actually landed a Certificate of Distinguished Performance award given by the ICMA Board of Regents, and had the chance to receive the it personally in San Diego at the prestigious IMA’s 100th Annual Conference.

All I can think about when I look back at my CMA journey and those 3 letters I can now attach to my name was how thankful I am for getting more than I bargained for when I started. It may have taken me longer than most but I eventually got there with the help of Insights CMA Review, the supportive management of my organization, family, friends and colleagues.

 

About the author:  Pat graduated magna cum laude in BS Business Administration and Accountancy from the University of the Philippines Diliman and is a licensed CPA since 2014. She is currently the Budget & Planning Manager of one of the most beloved snacking companies in the Philippines and does financial consultancy for selected clients. She enjoys watching sitcoms and reading during her free time and is a proud dog parent to Muffin.