Finding that Opportunity To Rise

I first learned about U.S. CMA program’s accessibility to Filipinos after noting that a few of my batchmates took and passed the exams right after the Philippine CPA exam.

I originally wanted to take CMA simply because MAS,  Finance,  and Economics were my favorite subjects in undergraduate. Eventually, as I gained real world experience,  I appreciated the value of deeply understanding how a business works, which is where CMA shines. Finding that opportunity to rise, it has then been my goal to pursue it once I can afford it.

That time came last June 23, 2019 when I enrolled my self to Insights for the weekend lectures and the WileyCMAexcel Gold online study course package. Given the audit workload in the weekdays, when overtime was still the norm, I just wanted to sleep after arriving home. This lasted until end of July, when I resigned from my job.

By August, I had a lot to catch up, primarily to start and finish most of the WileyCMAexcel lectures and start answering the challenging test banks. At the same time, I was sending job applications and attending interviews.

The CMA certification program pushed me to have a more comprehensive understanding of concepts than what the CPA’s Management Advisory Services portion required.

I first took the Part 2 exam in September 2019. Days before the exam, I had the same uneasy feeling as when I took the CPA exam 4 years ago. I told my self “Ano ba ‘tong pinasok ko [What have I gotten my self into].” During the exam proper though, I was calm. It really helped that the exam interface is almost identical to the WileyCMAexcel study materials. I ended the exam with 15 flagged multiple choice questions (MCQs).

For the month of October 2019,  I was left with the Part 1 exam, which I felt less confident of. I ended the exam with 19 flagged MCQs.

Results were out in December 2019 and the Insights team were very confident that I will get gold with my high scores. It became official this January 2020. I expected that I would pass but have not thought of getting the top score. In fact, I was only aiming to get at least 80 in MCQ, which is the passing score after I assumed that I can probably get at least 50% score in essay.

I have immediately realized the benefit of CMA as I was getting invited to interviews even more after it has become part of my name.

I am ecstatic that I’m currently processing my US visa for the IMA Annual Conference happening in Atlanta, Georgia, and another visa for my new job, for which CMA has helped one way or another.

I encourage students to take the CMA exam while topics are still fresh in your minds. It equips you with skills relevant to most career paths. At the same time, I urge accounting/finance professionals to take it, feasibly with each part in separate exam windows, or during transition between jobs, similar to what I did. It does open doors. I advise you to take it. You can pass it, but first “you’ve got to earn it.”

 

About the Author: Michael John M. Cortez is a proud product of the University of Santo Tomas-Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy, graduating magna cum laude under batch 2015. He passed the Philippine CPA examination in October 2015, and took and passed the CMA examination in October 2019, garnering the highest average exam score worldwide. He will be heading to Atlanta this June 2020 to receive his Gold Medal award in front of 800+ other CMAs estimated in attendance on that day.

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.

Ad Astra Per Aspera

When I was in college, I am always fascinated by this Latin phrase engraved over one of our University’s structures, “Ad Astra Per Aspera”. When I saw the phrase, I immediately looked for its meaning, “to the stars through difficulties”. I realized that it is not one ordinary Latin jargon but one that inspires someone who reads and understands it. At that moment, my story of journeying towards the brightest stars commenced.

I graduated in college last April 2014 at the Cagayan State University in Tuguegarao City and passed the CPA board exams the same year emerging as one of the toppers. I still held into that phrase, but this time on a different tone, I think I have already reached the stars because I courageously faced the difficulties. I then joined the workforce as an auditor in Punongbayan and Araullo. A realization hit me, that even after graduating with Latin honors and topping the licensure exams, it feels like it is not enough. With the advent of the ASEAN integration as well as the technological disruptions in the labor market where robots are beginning to take the place of humans, it may already be necessary to equip myself with some other qualifications and credentials. However, because I wanted to first earn a living for myself and for my family, I opted to just sleep over it.

Fast forward, in early 2016, I came across FB posts showing a number of fresh graduates and even professionals passing the CMA exams. I contacted one of my friends (who is already a CMA) and he introduced me to Sir Angel Secerio of Insights Financial, the largest CMA review center in the Philippines. With my eagerness to pursue additional credential, I asked him a lot of questions regarding the CMA certification which he patiently and generously responded. However, I was distraught when I learned about the cost of the program (though Sir Angel offered me a discount and instalment payment option plan) and another thing, I still didn’t have one of the requirements to take the exam – a passport. So I decided not pursue for the meantime, but without throwing away that desire to obtain the title.

In 2017, my present employer, Bank of Makati, offered me a sponsorship for a certification (but not the CMA) and without hesitation, I gladly accepted. That same year, I earned the Certified Financial Consultants (CFC) credential.

But my desire to become a CMA still remains intact. In fact I had been an avid follower of the Facebook page of Insights Financial where they always share posts of successful examinees and I do always read testimonies and success stories of the passers in their website. Then last May 2018, my boss, Sir Rowell Umali, made an unsolicited recommendation to us (I and my friend Harvee Salvador) to perhaps try the CMA exam. Of course I was surprised and at the same time thrilled and excited. The title I have been yearning for more than 3 years is already coming to light. We drafted and submitted an intent letter to our President, Sir Luis Chua, showing our eagerness to pursue CMA and requesting for the Bank’s support which he gladly approved. To that, I express my most sincere gratitude to my very considerate and generous bosses in Bank of Makati.

And my journey towards the CMA certification begins.

But before that, it is also worth mentioning that a few months back, in March 2018, I have submitted an application for a Master’s degree in Management at the University of the Philippines- Manila (UPM). Passed the admissions exam last June 2018 and attended classes starting August.

During those months, my life was very difficult. Juggling between my: work– where the last semester of the year is the busiest because of the budgeting and planning season and the unit I am heading is the overall in charge; study for my Masters– Saturday class, studying in UP is a no joke as lots of readings and research papers are required and we also have to attend events and colloquiums outside the classroom, we were tasked to prepare Management Research Papers and a Strategic Management Paper of our respective organizations and do a book review of business strategy books; review for the CMA– I have to read the thousand-pages book of Wiley, attend live review sessions either in UST or in Insights Center in Makati during Sundays (thank you to the Insights Team!) and answer tons of CMA online problems (more or less 4,000 problems for both parts), have to memorize concepts and terms to prepare for the essay part of the exam, not to mention that I am stranger to some of the CMA topics such as US GAAP, Standards for Internal Audit and Risk Management and some foreign laws (Sarbanes Oxley Act, Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, to name a few); and lastly my personal life. It was really very hard and taxing.

For more than 8 months, I had to make sure I am on track of everything. Work demands are met, research paper and homeworks for my Masters are submitted on time and the CMA exam preparation is on track as Sir Angel would always ask me for an update how well am I doing with my preparation. I read the Wiley book in the morning at the office before office hours or if we need to submit a paper for my Masters I have to do that first. Use 30 minutes of my lunchbreak time to answer a couple of CMA problems, sometimes have to render overtime at the office. I read Wiley flashcards or listen to the Wiley audio lecture on my way going home after 6:30 in the evening, then at night after having my dinner, takes 10-20 minute power nap before starting to practice solving 50-100 CMA problems. Then goes to bed around 12 in the midnight to 1:00 AM and wakes up at 5:00 to 6:00. I barely had a review during weekends because I had to attend my class in UP during Saturday and the CMA live class session during Sunday.

But what kept me up and running during that time of struggle was my burning desire to really earn the certification- no matter how hard it gets- for my future and for my family. I am always reminded by that phrase “Ad Astra PerAspera”, “to the stars through difficulties”.

I took the exams last January 2019 for the Part 1 and February 2019 for the Part 2, need to take it in same exam window to qualify us for a medal ranking. The exams were in Ateneo Graduate School and I can say it was hard- 100 multiple choice questions and 2 essays with 6 questions each- all to finish in 4 hours in front of the testing computers of the Prometric Testing Center inside Ateneo. We were not allowed to bring anything inside the testing center, even our hankies! And every testing computer has a camera installed so the proctor can see every detail of our action within the 4 hours that we are inside.

We were informed that the results will be out 42 days after the last day of the month that we took the exams. Which means we had to wait for more than 2 months before we are able to know whether we passed or not. And just like how waiting for the CPA board exam results felt before, waiting for the CMA exams was also agonizing.

Exactly 42 days from end of January and February 2019, the results were released last March 14 and April 11- with the word “Congratulations” in the first line of the email I received from Mr. Dennis Whitney- the Senior VP of ICMA (Certification Division of IMA). I immediately told Sir Angel of my scores and he assured me of a medal given those scores, either the gold or the silver. And how did I feel? It was cloud nine, grinning from ear to ear! April 11, a day after my birthday, was actually one of the best days I had ever!

Indeed, my CMA journey was one thrilling ride. Struggles were everywhere- work, studies, review and personal life. But in battling those struggles, I had my weapons- discipline, focus and faith. I held into my dream and into holding that dream, I used those weapons. Now I can say, I have surpassed the difficulties and I have reached a ‘golden’ star- a star that will definitely open up a lot of opportunities in the future. Indeed, Ad Astra Per Aspera!

To God be All the Glory!

About the Author: Reynald E. Tomas is a magna cum laude graduate from Cagayan State University. He earned his CPA title back in 2014, passing the tough Oct. 2014 CPALE with a rating of 90.71%, the second highest in that examination. He worked in one of the prominent audit firms immediately after passing the exam, and currently holds a key finance position in one of the well-known banks in Metro Manila.

Soaring into the boundless, open sky

A willful bird before learning how to fly fell countless times on solid ground. Likewise, man endures life trials to become successful and wise.

And I, too, have my own story.

Initially, I enrolled in the BS Accountancy program. Everything went well until that one dreaded semester came where many of Accountancy students failed before. Although we all knew that we had to study and work twice as hard than usual, we felt like it was still not quite enough. Despite all the preparations, most of us had a hard time having an excellent mark and eventually, it made us feel demotivated as the semester progressed. Making things worse, I was stricken by chicken pox which took me two weeks to recover from. It may not be the key reason why I did not get satisfactory results but it did evidently contribute to it at some extent. Yet, even after all those things that happened to me, I did not waver that I can finish the race. I still gave my best shot to have a passing grade because at that time, I thought to myself that it was the only path for me to walk on. Unfortunately, I failed to achieve the final grade requirement at the end of the semester and made a decision to shift courses to BSBA Major in Management Accounting.

It felt like the world that I have long been building just came crashing down and suddenly lost its meaning. It pained me even more when I knew that I gave it my all and yet, I did not get what I yearned for. This poignant and unexpected turning point of my life is the reason that I have lost my drive to keep moving forward and caused me to lose sight of my goal: to be a certified accountant. I struggled to pick up my broken pieces and put them back to their right places because it seemed hopeless to start anew.

Until the day came when Insights Review Center conducted a seminar during my stay at San Sebastian College – Recoletos de Cavite, my beloved alma mater. I learned about the Certified Management Accountant Examination and it was as if a new light had been given to me to chase the goal that I have once given up. So once again, I challenged myself to rise up from the rubble and earn the prestigious title. This journey, I knew, was going to be tough but I definitely wanted the CMA title even more.

I had struggles before and during my review as all of us had. I had hesitations and self-doubt; I had grown weary and anxious; I had been disheartened, maybe because I was so afraid to make the same agonizing mistake from the past. I was scared that I will get knocked down again but then, my thoughts kept telling me that I have walked far from where I have been before and that the goal that I was praying and longing for shines very brightly at the end of the road, patiently waiting for my sweet arrival. I also reminisced the love and support of all the people who have walked along with me throughout my journey and have always believed in me, even during the times when I wanted to concede and walk away. And so, I pushed aside all my doubts and worries and braved the grueling examination with courage and determination.

It did not start off easy but I look at what I have accomplished and know that all the misery and disappointment I experienced were worth it. Because I chose not to surrender and continue to pursue my passion, the goal that I have been aiming for is now realized. I know that I still have a long way to actually be able to soar at greater heights and passing the CMA examination is just another new beginning but I do believe that someday I can see the world with my own eyes – looking from the place I truly want to be. After all, I already fell countless times on the ground and yet, I am still eager to learn how to fly higher.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” – T. S. Eliot

 

About the Author:  Juvert Ian S. Retonel is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Management Accounting of Batch 2018 from San Sebastian College – Recoletos de Cavite. He successfully passed the CMA exam last September/October 2018 testing window. He is aiming to become an accounting professor with a passionate desire to abundantly nurture the minds of the aspiring accounting-major students.

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”; an excerpt from “Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, a mantra I repeat to myself in times I face life changing decisions. It’s ironic because when I chose the course I would take in college, I took the road most often taken by most aspiring business professionals and lawyers, which was BS Accountancy. But during my journey as an accountancy student, my mantra was put to the test, it was during then that I stumbled upon a road that diverged, and there lies a path less traveled by.

During my second year in college, I faced an obstacle I never knew would change my life, which was to pass the retention program. The retention program was the test that would decide whether I was still eligible to continue in the BS Accountancy program or I would be shifted to the BS Management Accounting program. Of course, when the results were released, I was disappointed when I learned I will not pass, and I was also on the verge of changing my course, thinking a career in accounting was not for me, but life always has its silver lining. During my first semester as a Management Accounting student, we were oriented about the different career paths a BSMA graduate can pursue. It was also discussed then that we can still pursue our goal of becoming a CPA by enrolling in a bridging program, but what really piqued my interest was the Certified Management Accounting Certification. I never knew that there were other avenues and greater opportunities I can grab aside from the CPA license, and the best part was it was a global certification. So, without any second thoughts, I pushed myself to pursue the CMA Certification together with earning another degree in BSA and the CPA license.

Not all roads are smooth, every road has its speed bumps and potholes, and for this journey that I am about to take, there were a lot of obstacles. It was truly a road less traveled by just like in Robert Frost’s poem, because most students were hesitant to take it due to several reasons, but what was most common was the time and the fee that we all had to invest. Although I too was hesitant because I didn’t have the resources and had difficulty managing my time, what kept me going was the excitement of becoming a globally competent professional with the lessons that I will learn through this certification and the people that I will meet. I was blessed from the very start because I had a family who supported my plans, so all that was left was my devotion and perseverance to pass the examination and claim the title of a CMA and CPA.

The journey was tough from the very beginning: the time I had to juggle between my undergraduate subjects and the review, the new lessons and I had to learn and the old lessons that I had to revisit, and the voluminous number of topics that we needed to study by heart. But it wasn’t all that bad, there were also benefits that I enrolled in the CMA course while finishing my BSMA degree. All topics that I learned and discovered in the CMA review helped me in my undergraduate studies and played a major role in helping me pass most of my exams. I also had the advantage of keeping my mind in a state of continuous studying therefore my mind was focused, determined, and I was more diligent in studying for both my CMA review and college subjects. It was going well as my CMA exam was drawing near, but there was one more hurdle that I had to face before I took the exam.

After successfully passing all my subjects and was officially graduating as a BS Management Accounting degree holder, I took the time to pay attention to my health before taking the CMA Exam. I was still in elementary when I was diagnosed with a heart disease, and in my previous visits in the hospital I was doing well, but during the first quarter of 2017 I received news that I did not know would affect my plans. My doctor told me that my conditions had complications and has worsened, which was caused by continuous amount of stress and strenuous activities. I was distraught because my study schedule was affected, the medicines I took had adverse effects, and the news also had a psychological impact which demotivated me.  Due to my present condition at the time, it affected my study performance and my plan on taking the bridging program after my CMA Exam to pursue my goal of also becoming a CPA. To fully prepare myself for the CMA Exam, I had to move my testing window, but I also had to decide whether I let go of my plans to pursue a BSA degree as it could jeopardize not only the results of my exam but also my health. I thought about it thoroughly and even consulted different people to help me in my decision, until I finally made up my mind.

Amidst the challenges I faced at that time I chose to pursue my BSA degree at the same time I was about to take my CMA Exam. I told myself, from the very beginning I took this path I was aiming for excellence and competency, and what more could define that by accomplishing these tasks despite the challenges presented to me. With proper time management, determination, and perseverance, I graduated with a BS Management Accounting degree, passed both parts of CMA Exam last Sept./Oct. 2017 testing window, then graduated with a BS Accountancy degree, and lastly, I passed my CPA Licensure Exam last October 2018.

During all these events, I could say that the CMA course was the best decision I ever made.  I acquired skills and knowledge that gives me an edge as a professional, it opened doors to different opportunities, I was able to meet business professionals from other countries, I was introduced to well known individuals in the Accountancy profession, I got acquainted with the best mentors and leaders in the industry, and I am now a catalyst for Management Accounting, Accountancy, and Financial Management students and professionals in their pursuit to become word class experts in their chosen fields and in becoming future CMAs.

The road I took, as difficult as it was, was the best route I took to elevate my career. I wouldn’t have made it through without the help and support of my friends, family, and mentors, along with the guidance of God. The journey I took may not be one most people would take, but I am thankful I took the challenge and endured every trial I encountered. I journeyed on this path less traveled by with the hope that more and more would find their way here to pave the way for other aspiring professionals, and I am proud to say that I never regret choosing this path. As the poem goes: “I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”.

About the Author: Melosino Melvin Roi Respicio III graduated from The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas with a degree of BS in Management Accounting of Batch 2017, and at Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Intramuros with a degree in BS in Accountancy of Batch 2018. He is now a Certified Management Accountant after successfully passing the exam last Sept./Oct. 2017 testing window. He took the CPALE last October and is now a Certified Public Accountant. He aspires to help his fellow accountants and also students taking up accountancy courses discover their full potentials and help them reach their goals in their pursuit of becoming successful accountants.

Welcome Detour towards MyCMA

I was a dreamer living in a province who went to the city to fulfill my dream of becoming a CPA. I remember the long bus ride I took on the way to the city, leaving my safe place, entering a big city, ready to face every challenge that life would bring as I take up the road to achieve my goal.

I took up BS Accountancy (BSA) at the University of Santo Tomas, but got transferred to BS Management Accounting (BSMA) as a result of not being able to make it through the retention examination that our college conducted. While some people took this as a failure, I took it as an opportunity to stand up and continue on with the battle. I viewed it as a detour from reaching my goal. So while I am in this route, why not make the most out of it?

I learned about the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Certification – a three-letter professional certification title that I can attach to my name, a three-letter title that can prove my competence in finance and accounting, a three-letter title that serves as the door that opened when the other one closed. Reading the benefits of becoming a CMA made it hard for me not to want to take it up, even though pursuing it requires significant investment.

During my last year in college, Insights Financial Review Services, the official review center for CMA examination, offered our batch a discounted package for the CMA program and those who were interested had to start immediately. I wanted to take the offer but I preferred to take one step at a time. I messaged Insights and asked about taking the examination after college but still being able to take advantage of the student discount. They were kind enough to address my concern.

I started reviewing for the CMA Examination after graduation. I decided to take the rigorous two-part exam in different testing windows in order for me to focus on each exam part one at a time.

Studying for the exam was not that easy. There were times when I asked myself if I could really do it. There were times when I get intimidated by how difficult the practice exam questions were. I was so afraid that I might fail. But my determination to become a CMA was a lot stronger than my fear. I wanted it so bad, and that was enough to have kept me going. I had to keep moving, because dreams do not come true with magic. Dreams are achieved through hard work, perseverance, focus, and discipline.

Sure enough, I was able to pass the two-part exam in one take.  I am now a proud certified member of the Institute of Management Accountants, the top global association of accountants and finance professionals in business.

 

About the Author: Angela Bianca T. Mamauag, CMA, is a Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting graduate at the University of Santo Tomas last June, 2016. She is currently pursuing a second course in Accountancy as she aspires to complete what she has started.

Threading the Unknown, for the Better!

Few years ago, I remember our instructor told us to write our goals for the next 2-3 years in a small sheet of paper. I wrote all my goals as if I am going to attain those no matter what happens and I believe all the rest did the same. As we are about to pass our ambitious paper, I became curious on what my seatmate wrote on her paper and I asked her if we could exchange our papers and see each other’s goals. She excitingly gave her paper as if that paper has the most ambitious goal. As I read her paper, I was amazed with her goals: “I want to have a twitter account and Instagram account”. So as I was about to return her paper, She rigorously questioned my goals, and asked “Are you serious with your goals? It should be realistic!” In my mind, well, it’s realistic for me! I just smiled and passed my paper to our teacher.

Passing the CPA boards was the only aim I had in mind at that time. It already felt like it was a treacherous mountain that is hard to climb. My mind was fixed on that goal alone.

One day, I met Mr Angel V. Secerio, the IMA-Philippines President. He presented to me an international accounting credential that I couldn’t even imagine of achieving. My dreams were so small at that time that I reluctantly refused his offer of assistance. I can’t see myself taking that prestigious credential. But he stretched my mind and articulated the principle “Think big, aim high”. My mind got transformed and I began to prepare to take two (2) certification examinations, in the same year and in the same month (Oct. 2016).

I found it extremely helpful to have someone to look up to as I search for my own success path. This mentor changed the way I think about life, imparting to me lessons that are beyond the four corners of academic boundaries.

The path I chose was a road less traveled. It was never easy; I sometimes had doubts and constantly questioned myself during those times: Why am I doing this, when I could have just reviewed for the CPA boards and focus on that alone? I thought I placed myself in unnecessary greater risk. Negativity popped in my head: What if I would fail the two exams because my mind was divided? But there’s nothing I can do at that time but to take the dare. Months have passed, prepared myself twice as hard but I still felt I was not ready, I was afraid. But fears must be faced and I already worked really hard for it.

Back to the story, 2-3 years came to pass. I believe my former classmate I alluded to at the start of my story also managed to achieve her goals, and so are my “idealistic” goals. By God’s abundant grace alone, I passed the Certified Public Accountant Board examination and ultimately the 2-part Certified Management Accountant international examination in the same year.

We can achieve the goals that we aspire for. The only things that would differ us are the size of our dreams, the desire to pursue and believing that we are equipped with sufficient skills to achieve them in God’s wonderful time. The author of life revealed this truth to us when he said in the book of Mark “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

From this journey, there are two notions I started to live by: (1) Be the person who would always see things beyond trials and failure, and (2) Make things happen.

Sometimes we only need someone to believe in us when we can’t even believe in ourselves. And I am telling you, if I can do it, so can you… Yes, much more than that!

 

About the Author: Marko Patino Alejandro, CPA, CMA, is a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy graduate of Ateneo de Zamboanga University last March, 2016. He currently works as an audit associate in one of the Big 4 auditing firms in the Philippines.