Maria Camardella, CPA, CGMA
Director of Financial Reporting, Prudential Financial
Maria Camardella is a director of financial reporting at Prudential Financial, Inc. She currently has oversight of financial reporting and analysis supporting Prudential’s Annuities and Retirement businesses, which includes SEC 10-K/Q filings, regulatory reporting and SOX and MAR compliance. Most notably, Maria was a key member in the design and implementation of a new controllership model, introduced in 2015 at Prudential as the Finance Shared Service (FSS) organization. This initiative created a centralized controllership function with standardized accounting and controls that enabled best-in-class and efficient controllership across Prudential’s business units. Outside of work, Maria enjoys spending quality time with family and friends and enjoys volunteering within her community with her husband and two daughters.
Motivation to get the CGMA designation
I reached a point in my career when I realized that earning the CGMA designation was a significant step towards reaching my goal of one day becoming a vice president. I knew that with this designation I was going to be more than an experienced Finance professional and CPA. With the CGMA designation, I set myself apart from others, especially in the eyes of my internal and external business partners who now realize that I have gained the necessary skills that every leader needs – the ability to think strategically and make tactical decisions for the benefit of a global organization.
Journey through taking the live and self-study learning and exam
I truly enjoyed this journey. Although challenging at times, it was a great learning experience. To me, the combination of the live and self-study learning materials was most valuable. Live sessions gave me the chance to ask questions to an in-person instructor and to also learn from the questions other participants raised during these sessions. The self-study learning was equally beneficial because I had the flexibility to create a schedule that worked for me and my needs, which involved managing through the rigorous time commitment of the program, while still managing my heavy workload and personal commitments.
Thoughts on the CGMA exam and format
I thought the CGMA exam thoroughly tested my strategic, operational and management knowledge in addition to my technical skills. For example, the case study exercise mirrored a real-world scenario in a growing global industry and challenged students to apply what they’ve learned to form practical solutions.
It was so nice to have the pre-seen case study materials in advance; especially given the large volume of training information you need to understand and apply appropriately to your case study. The exam consisted of three essays that had to be completed within 3 hours, which allotted one hour for each essay question. The challenge though was that one essay topic could have at least three to four aspects to evaluate and provide recommendations. I thought having the ability to see previous exam questions and answers was also helpful in determining how to organize my thoughts quickly and present the most impactful responses.
It can be extremely difficult to complete detailed essay questions in one-hour increments, especially if you are not a quick typist. Rushing to get all your thoughts down in a concise order does not reflect how it would be handled in a real business environment, so that was an added challenge to passing the exam, even if you were comfortable with all of the training materials.
Value of going through the Program
The CGMA designation means that I am now part of a global network of peers who possess more than just the required technical knowledge and experience that most Finance professionals have. I will now be recognized as a trusted advisor who possesses the skills and expertise to make strategic decisions, manage change and risks, as well as lead operational and finance functions to achieve efficiencies. These are critical leadership skills and traits for navigating in a global business environment. I’ve learned that in a global organization you need to stay in tune with what’s happening around the world and understand how it could have an impact, whether financially or non-financially, on your organization or on the company overall. Thanks to the CGMA designation I have this type of mindset as a global leader in business.
CGMA on your resume
I would list the CGMA designation as an accomplishment. I think highlighting this accomplishment says that I am a well-rounded business leader with diverse skill sets that stretch beyond technical accounting skills. With my many years of managing a large staff and experience collaborating across numerous businesses and corporate areas, I have come to realize that strategic and managerial skills are vital in business. I have always strived to develop and hone skills throughout my career as well as encourage others around me, such as my staff, mentees, peers, etc., to do the same. These are skills that allow me to collaborate better with my team; to meet reporting deliverables; to build stronger partnerships and effectively negotiate with business partners to implement reporting changes that enhance controls and improve processes across all levels and functions.
I would recommend the CGMA Program to my peers and I have already done so! The Program truly is designed to provide a person with the necessary tools, processes and knowledge to succeed and obtain this distinguished designation. In addition, earning this designation grants you access to the management accountants global network. This gives you access to various tools, reports and research that will help you stay abreast of best practices within the industry and equally important, keep you in-the-know of new advancements and innovations in business. This better prepares a person to meet the global challenges in today’s business environment and provides a competitive advantage in one’s day-to-day job.
Value of obtaining the CGMA designation
The value of obtaining the CGMA designation is that the skills and knowledge you acquire can be applied to any situation within your organization as well as everyday life. It teaches a person how to consistently think broadly and assess both sides of a situation to provide a more impactful decision.