Road to San Diego

 

Marc Angelo S. Sanchez – CPA, CMA

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!
Francyne Jean M. Corpuz – CPA, CMA

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.

Soaring into the boundless, open sky
Juvert Ian S. Retonel – CPA, CMA

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.

A Journey that Started with a Dream
Angelica Louise M. Villarin – CPA, CMA

We all have different mantras as we fight for our different battles in lives. My journey for CMA was a tough road. All the ups and downs are lessons for us to take and use it in our life.

It all started when we had a dream. I remember when someone asked me as a kid what I wanted to be when I grow up, tons of great profession has come up but one strikes the most. And that is, to be an accountant. Every accountancy student dreams of becoming a “Certified Public Accountant” (CPA) one day, and each day was a challenging one. They have to burn the candles at both ends to meet those expectations and pressures that not only other people have put on but also themselves. Unfortunately, the survival of the fittest had applied in every ground and I was one of the people who didn’t make it. All those “whys” and “what ifs” have come across to my mind because my dream was clear since day 1 that I wanted to become a CPA.

From BSAc course, I shifted to a BS in Accounting Technology. All I thought that I was a disappointment to my family. But as time passes by, I started learning to trust the “journey” even when I do not understand it.

During my second year, I saw a girl (Ms. Zainab Anawari) on a tarpaulin that passed the CMA examination and learned what CMA is all about. Since then, my perception changed. I learned that failure is nothing more than an opportunity to better you.

On my Third year in college, I took the Management Accounting subjects and started my journey as a double major student. I remember when I was about to give up, my father said, “Nak, wish ko lang one day is makita ka dyan” pointing in a tarpaulin of law/board passers. That’s when I started to think that maybe I wasn’t meant to be a CPA. Maybe the title CMA is the one for me.

I began to dream big, study twice as hard and have faith that everything will work. I stand strong to what I believe and battled my way to achieve the title that my family and I dreamed for me.

If there’s one thing I learned from this experience, that is, no one is going to take over your battles for you; they are yours because you were designed specifically for those battles, so keep fighting. We stumble and fall but we should learn to stand up. Setback is an avenue, an opportunity to keep you going and make you stronger. My dream of becoming a CPA has gone, but this didn’t stop me from becoming a CMA. And so should you with whatever goals you’ve been dreaming of.

Have faith in what you believe in; keep on dreaming, and make the effort toward achieving it. DREAM BIG because there are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths that you’ll be thankful for taking the detour in your life.

About the Author:

is a double major graduate of Bachelor of Science in Accounting Technology and Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting of Batch 2018 from the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. She successfully passed the CMA exam last September/October 2018 testing window.