Sic Parvis Magna

Ken Photo“Sic Parvis Magna” – Thus great things come from small beginnings, this was the belief of Sir Francis Drake, one of the most famous strategists and privateers that had lived in the 16th century. An aphorism I would adapt to remind me of where I want to be.

I’ve always viewed the accounting profession as a two way path – either you go for external reporting (financial statement preparation, audit, and taxation) or internal reporting (cost & management accounting, and consultancy). I already confided myself to take the internal reporting path because I believe it is dynamic between the two. Having been employed as a management accountant in a multinational BPO, I’ve experienced interacting with a lot of business executives and learning from them. It also has a great sense of responsibility because, as consultants, what you advise to leaders often stirs up the organization to that direction as well. Whereas financial accounting has guidelines in reporting fairly financial results to stakeholders, management accounting uses simple logic and straightforward computations in reporting results of operation while driving them to act on matters to improve sustainability or growth. It was only then natural for me to get the credential for management reporting the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) title.

I started to do some research on how to get it and my readings took me to the IMA site where I also decided that it would be the most relevant for me because the headquarters of my company is located in the US. I also learned that IMA is endorsing Wiley CMA Review materials as their partner so I hurried to their site to get information where I can get it. This is where I learned of Insights Financial Review School as the official distributor of the materials in Philippines. What was supposed to be an initial email regarding the price of study materials (Wiley CMAexcel is the approved study material) became the official start of my CMA journey.

I met Sir Angel and instantly laid him my plans on taking the exams. I told him that I will be taking it on October 2014 since I needed time to prepare both mentally and financially. But he challenged me to take the exams earlier in the May/June window! It was from here that he invited me to his office as it would be best to discuss it personally rather than email exchanges. Perhaps it was his genuine sense of desire to help that I accepted his challenge though I was extremely reluctant. So my plan was pretty simple, take Part Two in May as I would need more time to review it while Part One will be delayed to June because I have more familiarity on its exam coverage.

Unlike before when I prepared for the CPA (Phil.) where I was a full time student back then, now I’m a full time employee and a part time student. I was always amazed by stories of people who worked while taking CPA board exams and passing it. Now I have the chance to experience it (though I only have two comprehensive exam parts compared to their 8) and it thrilled me more than anything. This is where time management is a critical success factor. There has to be a balance between work responsibility, study and that thing called “life”.

I know this has been mentioned like a million times before but I guess what they fail to emphasize is CONSISTENCY, all those careful planning will mean nothing if the plan will not be followed strictly. I was so determined to follow my schedule that even when I close my eyes, all I see is the word consistency in order to remind me of the task at hand. I made it a point to always answer multiple choice questions a day, even if it’s only for five items. I remember I had to receive notes and questions, a day before the exam just to make sure that I’d get the net tax effect on cash flow from sale of old asset in capital budgeting.

Of course this journey would not be one without any sacrifices. There was less socializing for me during company events; no summer outing in Palawan or Boracay; no scheduled trips for an out of town with family or friends. Virtually any time I could save away from work, I devoted to study. There were times that I wanted to just quit only to realize that it was I who wanted this in the first place and I have no right to complain. It was during these times that my determination was tested. Whenever I feel exhaustion, I’d tell myself to go back to the day I decided I’ll be a CMA with all the reasons I had back then and how I can let down all the people who helped me as well. Surprisingly it’ll move me off my bed and get to work on answering those exercises. Again, consistency is the key because it becomes a habit. And when it becomes a habit, you don’t have to drag yourself to answer questions, like breathing it becomes second nature to you.

A support system is very important to any candidate who wishes to pass the exam. I was very fortunate to have very supportive people around me while I was doing this. I had the best coach in Sir Angel, up until now I kind a feel the shiver when he messages me on Facebook with “How are you Ken?” and then I’d be like “Oh my! I haven’t finished yet the questions he gave me to answer!” A very supportive family who prepares the food I eat to the clothes I wear. They make sure everything is taken care of and that I have nothing to worry about. My team and bosses at work were helpful too. They would let me leave office earlier than usual so I can have ample time to review.

I believe the most important of all, the Almighty Father who had given me the opportunity to experience all of these. I would take this time to say my deepest “Thank You” to all. Know that none of this would have been possible if not for your individual contribution, patience and understanding.

I also think that a candidate must also stay healthy by taking necessary nutrition during the course of preparation. Remember that all the hard work will not pay-off if you’re sick during the examination day. Also, have time to relax. Putting too much pressure on something will break it and it could be you. In addition, reading success stories from other candidates who passed was helpful for me. It made me more inspired knowing that they have struggled too but was able to overcome it; if they did it, then so can you and I!

Finally I know that passing Part Two is only a portion of the beginning. I’m still waiting with Part One results and I’m extremely hopeful that I make it as well. I think the real challenge still lies ahead, after the certification has been awarded. It must be put into good use – by giving value in the organization. More than the mastery of knowledge, I believe that the CMA certificate is also a testament to the bearer’s character.

A CMA is a proven challenge taker, one who focuses the drive and perseveres to achieve their goals to become successful. I hope with all of this I am able to spark a fire somewhere and I would strongly recommend that you act upon it swiftly.

For always remember, great things come from small beginnings – SIC PARVIS MAGNA.

About the Author – Kenneth Lapez is a graduate of Colegio de San Juan de Letran in 2006, and passed and earned his CPA license in the same year. He is presently connected with Accenture Philippines as a Finance Specialist for more than five years now. Eyeing for a solid role as business consultant, he pursued the CMA designation early this year and had recently completed the requirements of the CMA Program, passing both parts of the CMA examinations in May/June 2014 testing window.

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