When I attended my first IMA meeting back in November of 2012, I was looking for more information about the CMA certification. I talked to a few of the members about the certification and, having confirmed its value, I sat for both parts of the CMA exam in 2013. I thought that a few more letters behind my name would prove that years after graduating from an accounting program and taking the CPA exam, I was still competent and engaged in learning. I remember that at my first meeting I was so shy about speaking in front of a group that I didn’t even raise my hand when the President asked for guests to identify themselves.
I kept attending the meetings, and started to get to know a few of the members. With 20-25 people attending most of the meetings, and five or six people per table, it was easy to get to know people. Most were accounting managers like myself, and we had in common the desire to make our cpe count, and to have fun and socialize while we were learning. I found that people were engaged with the speakers and asked good questions. This was a second level of learning – learning by attending the meetings and actively listening to the presentations.
In 2014 one of the board members asked me if I would like to serve as the director of meetings and registration. Simply put, this is the person who greets people as they come in the door, accepts the registration fee, and maintains the list of attendees. Sometimes making the nametags took some time, but I came to know more of the members simply by greeting them as they arrived. As a director, I also attended board meetings, and helped to recruit speakers. I had a first hand glimpse at all of the tasks involved in putting on a meeting, at chapter finances, and at the volunteer work of the leaders of the chapter. As I became more involved, my connections within the organizations became stronger. Other board members would call asking if I could help with something they were dealing with at their jobs, and sometimes I found myself calling other board members and asking for assistance. Our engagement in the same volunteer task was a stronger bond than simply attending the meetings. I had reached a third level of learning -- learning by doing.
In 2016 I felt a need to improve my management skills. I contacted the current president, Cindy Jenkins, and asked her about the Presidency. After our discussion, I decided to serve as Vice President of Administration for a year and then take on the role of President in July of 2017. It is now August, and the fall series of meetings begins in a month. I am sure that I have many lessons to learn over the coming year. My point in going over my IMA journey is not simply to say that you get out of something what you put into it, though that lesson is a part of the story. My point is that these meetings can be an important part of anyone’s continuing education. My story is not the only story of growth within our chapter – these meetings have real value. I am grateful for my fellow board members who spend a lot of time preparing for and running the meetings. I am grateful for all the members and guests who attend, you are the biggest reason that these meetings are worth the scramble of leaving the office a little early. For those of you who have not attended a meeting, please come out and join us, you are missing one of the best live CPE options in Richmond.
As I stated above, at my first meeting I was nervous about saying a few words in front of the group. This coming year I will be leading the meetings. Please come out and join us --- your IMA experience may change you in unexpected ways.
Stuart Brumfield, CPA, CMA, CGMA