Daniel Brownstein, CPA, CGMA, MBA
Global Account Finance Advisor, EY
Motivation to get the CGMA Designation
Having already achieved my MBA and CPA, I highly value any learning experience that could potentially give me a competitive advantage and further refine my thought process and problem-solving skills. I love any kind of challenge, physical or mental, so this really seemed like something different that would test my business acumen and take me to the next level.
Journey through taking the live and self-study learning and exam
Challenging, rewarding and eye opening. Participating in the live three-day scholars Program in NY with Adrian Sims was a world-class learning experience and a great introduction to the CGMA. Adrian really encompassed the how and why questions that I originally had about the CGMA, and really helped me understand the level of expectation behind a professional who obtains the designation. Being a part of this elite group is an honor, and going through the process of obtaining the necessary skills and courses to pass the exam really opens your eyes to a broader [spectrum] of the business world and entire industries you’re unfamiliar with.
Thoughts on the CGMA exam and format
I thought the CGMA was a very tough exam that really helped me think differently about how I approach problems in my day-to-day job. The format of email-type formal and informal responses, and the one-hour time limit per question really forced me to be efficient and organized with my responses and added an element of pressure that most of us are accustomed to experiencing firsthand in our real jobs. The process of preparing for the exam forced me to consider what the C-suite executives are thinking when they’re forced with real life problems in their business, such as how to handle internal HR turmoil, or external competitors who are taking market share. Most of all, I really like the element of considering growth in a global landscape. In today’s constantly changing business world, being able to think globally about supply chain and growth, as well as cultural differences, is hugely important and a main takeaway from the CGMA.
Value of going through the Program
Being able to participate in the Program enabled me to meet some really great professionals in the industry and further strengthen my network by meeting some great people at the AICPA. In addition, the learning and broadening of my business acumen and problem-solving capabilities has really proven to be a great asset to me both at work and at home, where I help my wife to manage her own interior design firm. The CGMA exam really introduced me to take a deeper dive into what a multifaceted business or industry looks like when you’re making decisions at the executive level.
The Program is definitely something I would highlight on my resume and also discuss in an interview for a new position. I do think it helps to give professionals a great balance between management accounting and financial accounting. I would recommend the CGMA Program to peers if I thought they were driven enough to take the learning seriously and devote the time to get the most out of the Program. In my opinion, reading industry periodicals that were related to my case study was just as insightful and helpful as the formal learning materials supplied to me by the AICPA. To me, the CGMA is really about thinking outside the box and being creative in how to make a business you’re unfamiliar with, in an industry that you don’t have a great amount of knowledge about, better and set them on a trajectory for growth and profitability.
Value of obtaining the CGMA designation
The true value of the CGMA is that it has the ability to really take a professional at the analyst level and help them understand more strategic aspects of a business. It gives insight into how to grow a business, and the value that comes out of the experience of taking the CGMA is better decision-making, more experience in problem solving and thinking through some really tough problems, and developing a greater understanding of the global landscape and how to approach relevant problems that you may not have seen in your career that can make or break a business. For example, working at EY, a truly global organization constantly forced into a position of collaborating with team members around the world and the CGMA really gave a lot of insight into the cultural differences and how that can translate into differences in business practices and perception of actions.