What Doesn’t Challenge You Won’t Change You
Joan Joyce U. Garcia – CPA, CMA

I always believe in the saying that “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” (Fred Devito).  It was a year ago when I decided to take another step in my career and pursue further studies.  I wanted to take an international certification, which will also be helpful in my current job and which will not take so much of my time and budget such as MBA or Law School.  So, while I was browsing through the internet, I came across the U.S. Certified Management Accountant, which is a globally recognized certification in over more than 180 countries.  Good thing, there was a local review center here, Insights Financial Review Services (Insights), which offers weekend review classes for professionals like me.  I was able to talk to Sir Angel Secerio, who is the managing director of Insights and he was able to convince me to enroll for the program.  Sir Angel was very supportive, approachable and accommodating all throughout my review, and for that I am very thankful.  I was also lucky enough to attend the Saturday classes of Dean Kenji Asano, Jr., who I believe is the best CMA instructor at Insights.

It was not an easy journey for me.  It was challenging to be a “working student”.  With my line of work as a Financial Reporting Manager, I often go home late and continuously render overtime.  Each study hour I devoted to reading the textbook and practicing to answer problems was a challenge. Regardless of the time I arrived home, I still made sure that I read or reviewed every night before I sleep.  There were even times I go home past midnight on Fridays and have to wake up early on Saturdays just to attend the review classes.  I was determined enough not to miss any review class since I know there would be lessons I could only acquire in class, and could not learn while reading only the review materials.  I don’t know why, but I was always excited in attending the review classes. I guess it always gives me a sense of fulfillment that I am able to learn something new every week, which is additional knowledge from what I usually do at work.  Most of my weekends were spent not on dates or vacation, but on studying, reading and reviewing.  I even remember going on a movie date but I brought a review material with me so I can read while we were driving to the mall.  Pathetic as it may be, but I just want to make every minute productive.  I guess it was effective because I was able to be the top performer in one of our comprehensive exams.  For an outgoing and extrovert person like me, it was hard to spend most of my time studying in my room instead of going out.  Good thing, I am blessed enough to have a strong support system – my family, my boyfriend, my boss and my friends. They were all supportive and they never doubted that I can become a CMA, which gave me confidence and will power.  Being a CMA takes a lot of prayers and sacrifices but I believe it all boils down to one’s determination, perseverance and time management.  It was tiring – yes; but it was very fulfilling.

Going back to my CMA journey, I was very challenged but it really did change me to become a better version of myself. For all those who are currently reviewing or are still planning to take the CMA exam, please use every challenge as an opportunity to stretch yourself and become better.  Bear in mind that everything is part of the journey. Every high and low, good and bad, moment of bliss and utter confusion. Don’t forget that there are going to be rough patches on the road to success, that there will be downs to each of the ups.  When you feel like giving up, always go back to the moment when you decided that you wanted this.  Tell yourself that failing is not an option and there is no other destination but to become a CMA.

About the Author: 

Joan Joyce U. Garcia, CPA, CMA is a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy graduate of De La Salle University Manila with more than 8 years of experience in the accounting field. She passed the CPA licensure exam last May 2009, and the CMA certification last August 2017. Her first job was as an Auditor at SGV & Co. She is currently employed as a Financial Reporting Manager at MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., the media arm of the MVP group.

Determination, Perseverance and Focus
Adrian Sarfraz O. Uttoh – CMA, CPA

Before I went to college, I initially chose BS Accountancy to be my course. But I faced a hurdle during my second year in college, in which I failed to pass the retention program. The retention program was the test that would decide whether a student will still be able continue in the BS Accountancy program or would be forced to shift to the BS Management Accounting program. I was disappointed when I knew that I did not pass the exam and the retention exam. I was about to change my course, thinking I was not fit to be an accountant. But instead, I took the obstacle as an opportunity to grow and did not let it drag me down. During my first year as a Management Accounting student, I was inspired to do well in my academics and become a Certified Management Accountant primarily because of one of my professors who taught me to think about the logic behind all the formulas and the reason behind such. I have found what I’ve been looking for. He also introduced the CMA exam to me. I never knew that there was a bigger world for accountants where I can grab other licenses aside from the CPA, and the best part was the CMA was a global certification. Due to limited resources, I had to choose between taking the Bridging program and taking the CMA exam. My eagerness to become globally competitive was my driving factor to take up the CMA. I believe that having a globally recognized certification together with all I have gone through college will prepare me well enough for the real world.

But just like any other journey, there were hindrances I had to overcome. At first most students were unsure to take it due to common reasons such as the time and the fee that we all had to invest. Although I was also uncertain at first since I wanted to work right after graduation and had difficulty managing my time, what kept me going was my dream to become a globally competent professional. I consulted several people with regards to my decision on whether to work while reviewing for the CMA exam. One of the people I talked to at that time was the approved course provider of the CMA Program in the Philippines, the Insights Team. They told me that working while reviewing for the CMA exam would be a tough journey, based on  the passing rate for working professionals in the previous testing windows. With that, I took an internship which was less tiring as compared to working full time. I was blessed from the very start because I had family and friend who supported my plans, so all that was left for me to do was my devotion and perseverance to pass the examination.

It was a tough journey. I had to manage my time very well between my internship and the review classes for CMA exam, and the old topics I had to read again, and the various topics that we needed to study by heart. I was about to give up but when I gave it a second thought, there were a lot of benefits I could gain from enrolling for CMA course while taking up my internship. All topics that I learned and discovered in the CMA review helped me in my internship since I was assigned to assess risks and controls in the company I worked for and at that time, I was studying internal controls, which was one of the topics in Part 1 of the exam. I did not have the advantage to study full time, but my edge was being able to apply the things I have studied in the real world. This helped me pass the CMA exam since most of the questions I have encountered were situational; you will be able to answer and appreciate them if you had the experience.

Determination, perseverance and focusing on your end goals, which for me was to become globally competent, are keys to passing the exam. Good luck!


About the Author:

Adrian Sarfraz O. Uttoh is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting Batch 2017 from the University of Santo Tomas. He passed both parts of the CMA exam last September/October 2017 testing window. He is currently completing work experience required in one of the top auditing firms recognized globally, doing Internal Audit and IT Audit procedures.

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood
Melosino Melvin Roi Respicio III – CPA, CMA

“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.