Justin R. Herring, CPA, CGMA
Senior Consultant| Deloitte Advisory
Deloitte & Touche LLP
Justin Herring supports the Cost Transparency and Alignment Group within the Deloitte Advisory practice. Justin is passionate about helping his clients achieve new reporting capabilities by systematically integrating operational and financial data. The new reporting capabilities are used by the organization’s leaders to make tough decisions, such as workforce planning, resource/budget prioritization, strategic cost and profitability analysis, and product and service costing. Justin decided to earn the CGMA designation to differentiate himself from his peers and advance his career. Outside of his career, Justin’s interests include spending time with his wife and daughter, running long distance races, and youth mentoring.
Motivation to get the CGMA designation
I want to be able to differentiate myself from my peers and demonstrate a commitment to quality in the eyes of my clients. I felt the test was a unique challenge because it is 100% essay-based, and I wanted to demonstrate that I am able to express my managerial accounting skills in narrative form.
I was given the opportunity to receive my CGMA designation, based on my level of experience in the management accounting field, during the grandfathering period of the designation. I chose to wait until after the CGMA exam was launched and I believe this positively affected my professional development. I believe I succeeded in expanding my skill set by preparing for the CGMA exam.
The journey through taking the live and self-study learning and exam
The live class at the AICPA Headquarters in NYC was great because the course explained how to approach the test and gave me an idea of the general structure. Without this experience, my self-study sessions would have been much less productive. In addition, it helped me to determine my strengths and weaknesses. After recognizing where I needed to focus my efforts, I was able to use my study time efficiently.
Once I understood the structure of the exam, I was able to pinpoint areas that I could strengthen through the self-study material. Because I knew some areas of the self-study material through past test taking and/or work experiences, I was able to skip those sessions altogether. I mainly focused on the areas that I had not practiced or studied in the past.
The example questions and answers were extremely helpful and helped me to understand exactly what the test evaluators were expecting. I was able to apply that to the current case study.
I enjoyed being able to prepare for the exam by researching the case study. Other exams provide you with a case study and offer you a limited amount of time to determine the issues of that particular company. With the CGMA Exam, I was able to spend a significant amount of time evaluating the needs and challenges of the company in the case study. Again, i believe this more closely aligns with real-life situations.
Thoughts on the CGMA exam; the format
It was much different than other exams I had taken in the past, such as the CPA/CMA exams, because the CGMA exam was 100% essay-based. While each certification exam provides unique challenges, results from the CGMA exam showed the test taker was able to answer tough questions while starting with a blank canvas.
I believe that essay responses show that the test taker has a depth of knowledge in the area being tested since there are no answers to select.
In the field of Managerial Accounting, you are not exactly given a list of choices that will fix issues that keep executive management up at night. One must have the ability to come up with a unique solution while being able to communicate that message either verbally or in narrative form. Again, the CGMA Exam more closely resembles real-life situations than other tests I had taken in the past.
Going through the CGMA Program
I am now able to show that I am proficient in the area of managerial accounting and I have the ability to practice in a wide range of managerial accounting disciplines.
While I was self-evaluating my strengths and weaknesses during the prep for the exam, I was able to determine in what areas of the CGMA Competency Framework I could improve. I have worked in a few different managerial accounting disciplines in my career (Internal Audit, Financial Close, Cost Management, and Financial Planning and Analysis) and I felt most confident in the technical and business skills area. I, therefore, focused most of my study time on the leadership and people skills in an attempt to strengthen my proficiency in those areas. There were a few instances where I found myself taking a step back to think about the big picture of cost management as it relates to specific issues.
Value of the CGMA designation
While I am very happy at Deloitte, if I were to pursue other opportunities, I would proudly list the CGMA Designation in my accomplishments. This is a designation that I use to market myself in my current role to my peers and clients.
I am pleased with my ability to express my knowledge of managerial accounting in a written format and I now have a deep understanding of the four areas of CGMA Competency Framework: Technical Skills, Business Skills, Leadership Skills and People Skills. These skills will assist me in becoming viewed as an asset to my clients and Deloitte leadership.
As the designation becomes more widely recognized, I feel I am on the front end of that wave. While I could have obtained my certification before there was testing for the designation, I decided not to go that route. I wanted to be able to earn the designation through passing a test. When talking to other professionals regarding the CGMA designation, I proudly mention that I took the exam and passed in order to obtain the designation.
Recommending the CGMA Program
The CGMA Program is a challenge worth pursuing. For those peers who have already obtained their CPA, this is a great way to be distinguished in the area of managerial accounting.
It shows potential employers and clients that the CGMA professional is able to express their opinions in narrative form while understanding the key concepts of being a managerial accountant.