Becoming a U.S. CMA Exam Passer amidst the Pandemic

Angel John F. Geronimo
UST BSA Batch 2020

As a fresh accountancy graduate, my road to becoming a CMA was eventful and eye-opening. My CMA journey started interestingly different from the batches before me, I was part of the “new normal”. We did not have classes on site.

Virtual classes were different from having classes on site. I missed the constant support from peers whenever meeting in the hallway and constant review sessions in preparation for the exams. These were practices which I was accustomed to in my collegiate years.

Normal life became very repetitive. My normal days became a routine of eating, studying, sleeping, and occasional catching up with friends. The situation made it hard for me to constantly perform at my best.

Despite all of these, I was still able to become a U.S. CMA Exam passer. This is all thanks to my family and friends who constantly checked on me and supported me. Most importantly. I am grateful for Insights for helping me prepare for my exams.

The CMA journey was very helpful to me as it helped me look beyond the numbers in accounting. It helped sharpen my analytical and decision-making skills which would surely be helpful in my professional life. This is an experience I would like to recommend for everyone.

About the Author

Angel John F. Geronimo (AJ), born June 13, 1999, graduated with latin honor of cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas. He participated in multiple organizations during his university days allowing him to find the perfect balance between academics and extra-curriculars. Last September-October testing window, AJ took the U.S. based Certified Management Accountant Examination where he passed with one of the top scores in the Philippines.

AJ is the youngest of the family of achievers, his eldest brother being a CPA Lawyer and the other being a medical doctor.  His parents are likewise achievers, her mother being a cum laude graduate, a CPA and a Doctor in Education while his father is the head of a private educational institution.

MAGIS: Into the Unknown

Marjorie S. Bandola, CPA, CMA

“What is life without a little risk?” – J.K. Rowling

My journey towards the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification started from seeking more in life.  When I took and passed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) board exam five (5) years ago, I told myself that it’s enough and will be the first and last exam I will ever take. But later on, while I’m passionately working as a CPA, I realized that the standard and way of life are moving too fast and advanced which calls the need for me to become more relevant and helpful in the work industry that I’m currently in.

When I got to plan my life and realized that I want to try and pursue opportunities outside the country, one of my senior colleagues mentioned that I can try CMA exam to gain leverage from others especially abroad. It sounds great and exciting but it’s also too risky and scary. But one day, it just happened that my circumstances made me realized that I need to have courage and take risks to experience and find new meaning in life. I realized that nothing will ever happen to me if I let my fear rule over me. I need to go out of my comfort zone and try something new to have something new.

Working while studying is no joke – given also that we’re doing it virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. There were times that I got so stressed out because my work demands a lot of time and got worried that I might not give much time to study for the exam. I can’t afford to fail and pay again because it’s too expensive and I don’t want to relive the review process. This is why, I really see to it that I got to have the discipline and consistency needed during review classes and self-review schedules. For me, passing the exam is a combination of self-discipline, hard work and faith.

Now that I already passed and is a CMA myself, I can say that it’s all worth it – the sacrifices, sleepless nights, doubts, time, fears, risks and money. We have to take risks and work hard for something that we want. As for me, I wanted to be different from others, wanted to explore opportunities and wanted to prove to myself once more that I can!

Plan and do the things you want to do and achieve. Continue to aspire for the things that will keep you feel alive and will help other people and the country. Embrace the struggle and trust the process, yourself and God – together you can achieve more.

About the Author: Marjorie Soria Bandola is a CPA and a graduate of BS Accountancy from Ateneo de Naga University, Cum Laude, October 2014. She’s currently working at the country’s largest and leading accounting and auditing firm ever since she passed the CPALE in 2015. She successfully passed the CMA exam last July/October 2020 testing windows.

Adapt and Overcome: My CMA Story

Angeli Marie B. Cabansay, CPA, CMA

Trying to forge a new slate in my life, I decided to take on the challenge of becoming a Certified Management Accountant. Looking back, I was not aware of the challenging year that was yet to come. I had everything planned – take during the September-October testing window, attend onsite reviews and study outside the house for a more conducive study environment. However, as we all know, that was not the case. Because of the pandemic, we had to adjust and get used to “new normal” behaviors. Besides the changes in other general day-to-day activities, online class was adapted, and perhaps the most challenging thing for me during the whole review period was to study at home.

It is during this period that I realized how important adaptability is to survive in life. With the end goal in mind, manifesting that I will become a Certified Management Accountant, I made do with what I had to accomplish all that was to be done. Slowly, I began to get used to, and actually prefer, studying at home. Notwithstanding the hard work I know I put into the challenge, I recognize my family and loved ones for their unending support, my friends and batch mates for lending a hand and teaching me about lessons I found difficult to understand, and the whole Insights Review team for always being available to answer queries and expand our knowledge with their online reviews. Despite the sense of loneliness in this pandemic, these three factors undoubtedly contributed to my success. It is true that no man is an island – in fact I believe man can be compared to  a three-legged stool: supported by 1. One’s own hard work and ambition, 2. Spiritual guidance and faith, and 3. The support of those who surround him. With these three “legs” to support me, I was able to achieve the goal. By God’s grace, I passed the CMA Examination with flying colors.

About the Author: Angeli Marie B. Cabansay is a twenty-three year old Cebu-based Certified Public Accountant. Before passing the CMA exam, she passed the October 2019 CPA Licensure Examination on her first try, forming part of the 14.32% who excelled on the said examination. She has gained experience in both Public Accounting and Commerce & Industry. Currently, she works as a Finance and Administration Manager. Besides all these achievements, Angeli also has a passion for singing, crafts and baking, and hopes to continually hone herself into an even more well-rounded individual who can make an impact in this world and contribute to its betterment.

Marching to the Beat of Your Own Drum

Kirk M. Saromines, CPA, CMA

“Keep your eyes open, no matter how dark the night ahead may be.” The road to passing the CMA exam was not as smooth as I had hoped to be.

This spark of mine started from an aspiration in college, progressing with my love for finance and management, to becoming a push to enroll in Insights and devoting myself for it. Time management for review became a huge obstacle, as I was a new hire struggling to cope with my first busy season in audit. The pandemic had further increased the difficulty on balancing work and study, and my drive to excel went dimmer. 

I was then reminded that this Herculean task need not be accomplished in one go, rather, I made the commitment to continuously advance even for a little bit each day my compass. This was fueled by knowing my reason behind taking the certification, and internalizing the purpose behind why the topics in the syllabus are needed to be known by a CMA professional. 

To all aspirants out there, I hope that you realize that getting the title is not the result of one big jump but an accumulation of little steps of hard work. It is not an end by itself, but a key to knowing more about the business world of yesterday and today, and what it could be. We still have a lot to learn as we progress through life. 

Stay curious!

About the Author: Kirk M. Saromines graduated summa cum laude from the University of San Carlos with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. He earned his CPA license in October 2019, and garnered the fourth highest average score of 89.33%. He took and passed with flying colors the two-part U.S. CMA examination in the September/October 2020 window. He is currently working as an external auditor in one of the Big 4 auditing firms in the world.