An Eye-opener at the IMA Leadership Experience in San Diego

In December 2017, SMU accountancy undergraduate, Eugene Tan received the exciting news that he was one of the 6 outstanding students—out of 29 global applicants—selected to attend the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Student Leaders Experience programme and the Global Board Meetings in February 2018.

The IMA Student Leadership Experience programme was developed to engage finance and accounting students into IMA’s volunteer meetings and educate them on how non-profit organisations operate, as well as the important roles volunteer members play in strategically planning for the future of the management accounting profession. 

Eugene shares his experience as the first Singapore representative selected for this programme.



By Eugene Tan Jin Han, Double Degree Undergraduate, SMU School of Accountancy and Lee Kong Chian School of Business

The amount of learning and experience gained from the three days spent at the IMA Student Leadership Experience in San Diego had far surpassed my initial expectations.

It is an absolutely rewarding experience for aspiring leaders in the Accounting and Finance field as we were actively engaged by top global leaders comprising CFOs and CEOS from various multinational corporations (MNCs) and other leading experts in their respective fields. We were exposed to the strong and vibrant community that the IMA has built over the past 100 years and the extensive networks that are instrumental in our professional development. This experience was further enhanced by the interactions I had with five other student leaders from the United States, Egypt and India as I learnt about their cultures and experiences.

Kudos to the IMA team for doing such a fantastic job in ensuring that we were warmly welcomed and that we were actively engaged over the comprehensive three-day programme. A big thank you to SMU’s School of Accountancy for being an IMA-endorsed university which provided me with the opportunity to be a part of this Student Leadership Experience.


Day 1


day 1 at IMA


Arriving on a Thursday afternoon, we were immediately introduced to the IMA team (Jodi, Pat) and the IMA Global Board Chairman, Alex C. Eng. They welcomed us warmly and shared about their work experiences with the IMA, providing us with an in-depth understanding of the goals of the IMA as well as our roles in it.


University of San Diego


The highlight of the day was the conference at the University of San Diego (ranked most beautiful campus in the United States in 2017!). Alex and Ronda Sedillo (CFO, San Diego Padres) shared about the value of the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification in their professional careers and its significant lifetime value in the form of continual skills upgrading and tapping of extensive networks globally.


Day 2


Committee meetings at IMA


Day 2 was the most eventful day for us as we were actively involved in the committee meetings—Ethics Committee, Volunteer Membership Committee and the Member Relations Committee. We were given wonderful opportunities to voice our opinions on the future of the Accounting and Finance sectors and how we aim to overcome the key challenges that artificial intelligence (AI) would potentially pose on the job market. The gig economy and its implications were also heavily discussed and through these discussions.

This was a great opportunity for us to learn from the experienced Committee members. These meetings have reinforced my perspective on engaging in lifelong learning and adaption to the technological and economic trends in the years ahead, whilst building and maintaining strong networks globally.


Lunch networking


We also had invaluable networking opportunities during our meal times, where we were able to interact with the Global Board members and IMA CEO, Jeffrey C. Thomson (Back row, 2nd from the left).


Day 3


Global Board of Directors Meeting


All the events over the past two days had given us a clearer understanding of the IMA as a global organisation and our roles in it—and all these would culminate in the Global Board Meeting on the third day.

With over 40 Board members from all over the world present in the room, we were initially apprehensive and slightly intimidated. However, as with IMA’s great hospitality, we were warmly welcomed and specially given time to share our views before the Board.

The actions of the IMA over the conference has enabled me to catch a glimpse of the great emphasis that IMA has in nurturing us—the next generation—to become effective leaders in the Accounting and Finance fields. IMA has built up a strong support system for the students and it has become increasingly clear that this warm and powerful community is one that I would like to be a part of moving forward!


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