Nicole Hendren's story

Nicole Hendren, CPA, CGMA

VP of Finance & Operations, Capital Associated Industries

What motivated you to get the CGMA designation?
The concept behind the CGMA appealed to me. Passing the CPA Exam validates your technical competency.  Passing the CGMA shows you can apply your technical knowledge in practical, strategic ways to impact an organization.

How has the journey through taking the live and self-study learning and exam been? 
Like the CPA Exam, taking the CGMA exam isn’t just about knowing the content.  You have to know “how to take the exam.” The live study course was focused on both the content and exam tactics. We spent a lot of time reviewing the pre-seen materials and considering potential exam questions. I found the study course to be well worth my tim, and believe it significantly increased my chances of success!

What are your thoughts on the CGMA exam? What did you think about the format? What are some aspects that you liked or disliked? 
I loved the flexibility to really showcase your strengths — it isn’t a quick Q&A or multiple choice format. You read a scenario and some facts, you refer to the preseen materials ... and then you respond in essay format. 
What have you gained from going through the Program? 
As a CFO, I am already serving in a leadership capacity, so I wasn’t interested in the CGMA to build my resume. I took the exam because I want to be a part of what the AICPA is trying to do to elevate our profession. I believe the CGMA designation showcases what our profession can really do, and the impact we can have. 

If you were to apply for a new job, would the program be something you’d list as an accomplishment/education? Would it be something you’d lean on to demonstrate expertise in MA? 
As a seasoned CPA fairly far along in my career, my primary driver for taking the CGMA exam was to challenge myself and support the strategic “brand” of the CPA profession. We have so much more to offer organizations than spreadsheets and numbers. Our technical knowledge is the foundation for our perspective, but that is only the beginning. The real value comes in how we help organizations. The CGMA designation is about applying your knowledge to really make an impact.

Would you recommend the CGMA Program to peers and why?
Yes, the CGMA Program prepared me for “how to take the exam.”  You need that knowledge to pass.  You need to understand what the examiners are looking for, and the program gives you that insight. 

In your opinion, what is the value of obtaining the CGMA designation, both in terms of the journey to get it as well as applying your knowledge, skills and experience to your organization? 
CPAs need to not only deliver reports and numbers — they need to help leaders in their organizations understand what the “story” is behind the financials ... and be a part of the discussion, problem solvin, and strategy. That’s what the CGMA designation is about.