Susan Groover, CPA, CGMA
Associate Director - Revenue Accounting
Susan Groover works in Revenue Accounting group at AT&T, supporting video and broadband products. She has oversight for related revenue accounting processes, including monthly results flux analysis, corporate reporting requirements, SOX controls and support for Finance clients. She also provides leadership, motivation, and supervision for a team of 6 Lead Accountants, including staffing, training, and skills/career development. Additionally, she represents Revenue Accounting in company-wide, cross functional projects. Outside of work, Susan's interests are volunteering, traveling, and spending time with her husband and two boys. She hopes that this CGMA certification will add value to her contribution to the company by integrating new skill sets into her role, and broadening her knowledge of the overall business.
Motivation to get the CGMA designation
I was initially approached by leadership to participate in the CGMA Champions program here at AT&T. It was after I entered the program and started to learn about what it encompassed that I began to see the benefits of the designation. As CPAs in industry, we are increasingly involved in discussions across functions that involve not only the financial impacts, but also the business implications of the results we are reporting on.
Journey through taking the live and self-study learning and exam
A journey indeed! It had been quite some time since I had been in “study mode”, having passed the CPA exam 15 years ago. The self-study program, while certainly thorough, was daunting for someone who had not gone through the traditional path of the related curriculum. I did try to take advantage of as much of the self-study material as possible, but it was really the live course that set me on the path to success. It was a great introduction to how the exam itself was administered (quite different than the CPA exam), and did a marvelous job of helping participants focus in on and master the heart of the skillset being tested. I’m convinced that the live course had a big part in my ability to prepare for and pass the exam!
Thoughts on the CGMA exam and format
The CGMA exam was more difficult than I had anticipated, but having taken the CPA exam, you think nothing can be hard after that! The CGMA is different not only in format but also in content from the CPA exam, which is challenging. Rather than theory application questions that involve calculations, the exam called upon a skillset that might not be getting as much of a work-out in our day to day duties – in depth written analysis that calls upon our ability to look beyond the numbers to what they mean to the business. I think the program does a good job of underscoring the case-study format.
Value of going through the Program
It really pushed me to think about taking my knowledge one step further beyond just producing accurate financials. There is a story in the results, and knowing how to interpret financials and get to the underlying cause makes analysis more meaningful, and give a broader view of what I’m doing and how the reporting I produce enables decisions to be made to push the company forward.
CGMA on your resume
I would certainly list it under the education and certifications section! I would certainly mention it as honing the skillset, but with 20 years in industry, I have some experience to draw from as well. Certainly, if I was just starting out it would be my go-to for demonstrating expertise.
I would recommend it to peers, and specifically to anyone working in smaller entities. I think it’s beneficial to accountants in broadening their scope and skillset… expanding from an understanding of how and where to categorize business activities to being able to give feedback on what the broader implications are for the results. The ability to bridge the gap between producing results and assisting the managers of the business in understanding the drivers and risk is an important skillset that adds value to the company. I will say that, I hope as the CGMA and this program continue to grow and expand, that the AICPA/CIMA consider introducing material that might be more relevant to larger companies (like AT&T). Because of the size of a company like AT&T, the number of individuals giving the kind of input that is being tested on the exam is quite limited. More often than not, we are experts on one piece of the much larger puzzle. That does not mean that a management accounting skillset is not needed! Where our talents are used is “turning data into information”, and I think that is a necessary step to providing the management accounting guidance promoted by this designation. It would be great to see the challenges of larger companies covered!
Value of obtaining the CGMA designation
Coming from a background as a CPA in industry accounting, I have been primarily focused on accuracy of financial reporting per the standards. I’m grateful for the opportunity to broaden my perspective and take my analysis skills one step further. In starting to bring in deeper analysis on the drivers of results, I can get ahead of questions that arise and produce a more quality product for the users who rely on this reporting for making strategic decisions.