Crossed Off My Bucket List

Photo-Korina Patawaran“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” – Fred De Vito

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. I’m the kind of person who constantly seeks for challenges and adventure. And being an adventurer by heart, a bucket list comes in handy. Bucket lists, for some time, have only been associated with the dying but on another perspective, it’s also actually one way to live. Besides, there’s nothing wrong on starting early. I have always been free-spirited but I know that I needed a direction somehow on how to achieve my aspirations and dreams whether it be study, fitness, family, travel, extending help to others, and career.

One of my bucket list entries, definitely, would be to pass the CPA Board Exams, which I did in October 2011.  The natural direction for new board passers is to get hired by an audit firm. Gratefully, I have been hired by one of the best in the country. Nothing compares with the experience and learnings I have been through during my short stint in the firm’s assurance division. But after a year, I knew for a fact that public practice isn’t for me. I want to work on something where I can add value, something that can drive growth, something that can drive change.

After I left the firm, I experienced a hard time looking for a new job. For someone who graduated from a humble university in the province, landing to your target job in the metro can be quite a challenge. I may have earned my bachelor’s degree with Latin honors but it isn’t enough in a competitive environment. It can be quite frustrating to be deliberately rejected by some employers because I didn’t graduate from one of the country’s ace schools or due to lack of experience. At that moment, I know that I need to do something to earn my place in the industry and to gain leverage. I want to be more competent and competitive, not only because I want to be empowered but also because I want to inspire others.

I knew that investing on education is the best step forward. The problem is I don’t know exactly what to pursue. Then one Sunday night on my way back to Makati, I stumbled upon an advertisement found on the bus’ headrest. I don’t remember the exact words but I remember the advertisement asking if I want to further my career and be globally competitive in the field of accounting. The advertisement is Insights Financial Review Services’ Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Program. The beauty in life is that it can present you things and surprises in ways you least expect. Indeed, everything happens for a reason. If not only for that simple bus ride, if not only for my chosen seat, if not only for that headrest, I would have not known that there is actually an institute that can help Filipinos earn a global certification. The US CMA certification is, of course, also one entry on my bucket list. I googled Insights right away and sent an e-mail to Sir Angel Secerio and inquired on the CMA program, that was in August 2013. He generously shared information regarding the program which I am thankful for but after careful thought I know it wasn’t the best time for me to undergo the program as I was only starting on my third job as a controller for a multinational pharmaceutical company. I remember receiving another email from him in February 2014, but I wasn’t ready still. Then in May 2014, when I felt like it was the perfect time, I signified my interest to take the program which was about to start in a week’s time.

True to my fear, studying for the rigorous two-part exam while working full time is really hard. But if you want something bad enough, you’ll really find a way. The good thing is I have always been interested in management accounting even during my undergraduate years that’s why I still remember most of the topics. Management accounting, unlike financial accounting and auditing, has a strong future orientation and is intended to help management in making rational decisions with a view towards achieving company’s objectives. Although it is true that you will be learning on actual work experiences, studying outside your work environment is a great way to refresh your knowledge about best practices and approaches in the field. I took the two part examination in September and October 2014 and without any doubt I knew I would pass the exam. As they say, you must believe you can and you’re already halfway there. In December 2014, results were out and I passed both parts. Earning the CMA designation, certainly, is not the end but just the start of a lot of things to look forward to in our career.

The unforgettable journey to becoming a CMA would have not been possible without the grace of our Lord. I want to thank God for the knowledge, for the energy, and simply for everything that have transpired. I want to thank my family for the endless support and for understanding on why I can’t go home on weekends because of the review. I want to thank all the reviewers and staffs for the meaningful discussions and for all the valuable tips. I want to thank my fellow reviewees for the fun memories and for making me feel I am not alone in the journey. And lastly, I want to thank Sir Angel for his kindness, encouragement, and guidance. As a young professional, corporate environment can be tough at times especially when no one listens to your ideas and no one appreciates the things you do. Then, you start to doubt your capabilities and see all the hindrances. Sir Angel may have not known this but during those times he was pushing me, he was indeed pushing me for something more. Thank you for believing in me during those times I didn’t even believe in myself. Because of his encouragement, I started to gain my confidence back not only in earning the certification but also in my career. The funny thing is, I still haven’t met you, Sir Angel, in person yet and I’m looking forward to that day when I can thank you personally. May God continue to bless you and may you continue to encourage and inspire more Filipinos to take the path less traveled.

CMA Journey is indeed a challenge but definitely worth it and now also crossed off my bucket list. 🙂


About the author:  Ms. Korina Patawaran is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (BSA) at the Holy Angel University in 2011. She passed the CPA board examination in October 2011 and, recently, the certification exams for CMAs in October 2014. She currently works as a Controller at Sanofi Pasteur, an international pharmaceutical company having operations in the Philippines.

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