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.

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