Zach Mastroly, CPA, CGMA

Assistant Controller, Reporting & Tax Accounting
Koch Industries

Motivation to get the CGMA Designation
I strongly value professional development and, fortunately, received encouragement from leaders within my company to pursue the designation. I took the CPA Exam over four years ago and, after having left public accounting, was looking for opportunities to further my development. While the CPA is great at measuring your technical accounting knowledge, the CGMA fills in the gaps of the other essential skills found in successful finance and accounting professionals: business strategy, people, leadership, etc.

Journey through taking the live and self-study learning and exam
The learning options offered definitely helped prepare me for the exam, particularly the live exam review course. I was able to use the self-study coursework to focus in on areas where I was less knowledgeable. The case study exam was unique to any exam I had taken before, and the live exam review course greatly prepared me with what to expect.

Thoughts on the CGMA exam and format
I really enjoyed the format. It differs quite a bit from any other exam I’ve taken, but I felt it does a great job of measuring the skills required to be a CGMA. You likely won’t be tested as much on your technical knowledge, but rather your knowledge of business strategy, people and leadership – the types of qualities you often see evident in executive leaders. The case study format requires that you have a broad knowledge base. The exam structure did a great job in simulating real experiences you might come across. When faced with any type of business issue, you must be able to identify and communicate key points quickly and clearly.

Value of going through the Program
I’ve gained or enhanced a number of skills that help me in my current role and that I would anticipate will help me in future roles for which I aspire. I’ve already seen personal growth when it comes to my people and leadership skills. I keyed in on change management as a personal area of weakness, but I’ve already taken new things from my studies that I’ve been able to apply in projects I’m leading for my company.

Program Experience
I’m proud to call myself a CGMA and excited about the future of this designation. The designation demonstrates expertise in management accounting by testing for the skills that are actually most essential for successful finance and accounting professionals. I would definitely recommend the Program to others and have done so already. I believe that professional development is key to career advancement. Both in terms of the skills you acquire in your pursuit and in demonstrating to your employer that you’re willing to put in the effort to grow.

Value of the CGMA designation
I think it’s an extremely valuable designation and will become even more so once it is more widely recognized in the market place, something I believe is inevitable. I feel more well-rounded and confident in my knowledge base since having achieved the CGMA designation. I was at least familiar with most of the content tested, but it proved to be a great refresher and enabled me to strengthen in areas where I was lacking. Some of the strategic management concepts were things that I learned in college but had largely forgotten. At this point in my career, relearning these concepts has been very beneficial, as I’m able to use actual experience and context to make the concepts more meaningful.