By Ed Brennen
Five Manning School of Business
students learned from — and networked with — industry professionals from around the world at the recent Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) annual conference in Austin, Texas.
Students Marc-Antoine Belmudes, Jessica Cobleigh, Sarah Curley, David Levine
and Heer Patel
joined Dean of Business Sandra Richtermeyer
at the four-day accounting and finance conference. Richtermeyer is former global chair of the board (and current board member) of IMA, an association of more than 140,000 accountants and financial professionals from over 140 countries.
“There were so many people from all over the world, and hearing everyone’s experiences was very valuable as I begin navigating my career in accounting,” says Curley, a rising junior from Salem, Massachusetts.
In addition to learning about scholarship opportunities and the benefits of a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification, Curley discovered that she’s “very interested in exploring forensic accounting as a possible future career.”
Patel, a senior from Lowell, says the conference stoked her interest in accounting information systems as she looks ahead to graduate school.
“My biggest takeaway is that accounting and finance are evolving in the way we perform duties. It is no longer about using traditional methods, but rather integrating technology and software to get the job done in a timely manner,” she says. “Now, I am considering my future graduate plans surrounding skills and knowledge necessary for the industry today.”
As a nontraditional student who returned to school after having a daughter, Cobleigh says one of her fears was that she wouldn’t have time to add an internship experience to her résumé.
“I spoke with so many people at the conference who helped me see that I already have my worth, that some of my experience is through parenthood and being a Girl Scout leader for 12 girls. I just have to make sure that I market myself in a way that shows I do have value,” says the rising junior from Pepperell, Massachusetts.
Cobleigh left the conference with a mentorship connection — and an invitation from a group of women students at a university in Mexico City to give a virtual talk this fall about her college journey.
“Just to be asked to speak to other students is life-changing,” she says. “It tells me I’m doing something right.”
All five students had attended the IMA Northeast Regional Council Student and Professional Leadership Conference, hosted by the Manning School in April at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. There, Richtermeyer offered them the opportunity to attend the conference in Austin, which was funded by the Manning School’s recently created endowed deanship
Traveling to Austin took some doing for Belmudes, an international student from France who had already returned to his home on the Mediterranean island of Corsica for the summer.
“But it was worth it,” the rising sophomore says. “The conference was a great way to meet new people and learn about accounting in the U.S., which is different from France. The work culture is something I need to learn.”
Levine, a rising senior from Stoneham, Massachusetts, says it was motivating to hear such valuable advice from “CFOs of notable companies, controllers and industry experts.”
While Manning School students have attended past IMA Student Leadership Conferences, such as the one at the ICC, this is the first time they have attended its annual conference.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to see what a real professional conference is like,” Richtermeyer says. “I've been going to this conference for over 20 years, and to see it through their lens was a great experience.”
Patel and her peers were grateful to Richtermeyer for making the experience possible.
“No matter where we go, she wants students to be front and center, because she truly believes that the next generation is the future of the workforce,” Patel says.