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I'm looking for some advice on building a road map for the future in terms of program choices and order of completion.
I'm currently an IT manager with 10 years programming experience. I report directly to the CIO and have the ear and support of ownership. Looking ahead to the future, I want more control and responsibility, specifically tactical and strategic decision-making involving cost analysis, distribution, marketing, and contract negotiation.
I feel like my best chance to achieve that position and to strengthen the company is to make what amounts to a lateral move into accounting. Our controller is the previous, now-demoted, CFO. His reputation at the company is one of a team player and professional, but he lacks the cunning, vision, and technical prowess to make significant impact. Our new CFO holds more of those qualities, but through two years at the company has yet to demonstrate a significant victory. Both are mid-to-late 50s.
My initial plan is to work toward the controller position and directly support the CFO. Pressing needs for quantitative data, especially with regard to accounting, always land on my desk now so the controller position seems like a natural fit. I have intimate knowledge of the data systems, and the technical ability to compile and generate my own polished reports. The progression from there is to take the CFO position.
My checklist of things I would like to acquire are the things I listed in the subject header here: CPA, MBA, and CFA.
My problems revolve around the fact that I live and work in Kansas City. There is an absolute dearth of quality programs here. Educationally, I only have a BBA, so I would need to pick up a lot of accounting courses, and quite frankly an amount that would lead to a masters to hit 150 hours.
UMKC (University of Missouri Kansas City) offers a full-time Masters of Accounting which holds all of its classes at night. I about spit out my drink when I saw the average GMAT score for the business school was 570, but the school is cheap and since its local it does offer networking opportunities. I think because I could enroll in the full-time program while still working, there's a chance I could get scholarship money. While I haven't taken the GMAT yet, I'm confident via Manhattan CATs and other resources that I'm headed for 750+ territory.
Does this sound right? Basically do whatever needs to be done to sit for the CPA, even though the school's reputation is non-existent?
On the MBA side, I feel like I only have two options to me at the moment. One is Washington St Louis' brand new Kansas City EMBA program. According to BW, it's a tier two program, but the EMBA list is global as opposed to the FT list. The big pro is that it opens up significant networking opportunities in Kansas City. EMBA students are well established and its the type of networking I'd love. The big con is that it costs $90k! I really doubt my company will pay that big of a tab.
The other MBA option is Indiana's Kelley Direct online MBA which costs around $50k. I do believe I could convince my company to pay for that one. But of course the major cons are a real lack of networking and the general lack of respect given to online MBAs.
Presently, I feel like my road map looks like this: 1) UMKC Masters of Accounting 2) Pass CPA 3) Pass CFA 4) MBA
Perhaps the completion of 1-3 would give me more momentum to ask for the larger bill of Washington St Louis' program down the road.
i'm not a finance guy, but i'm struggling to see the value of getting all 3 (CPA, CFA, MBA) given your goals. at the very least i'd rule out the CFA, which is most useful for a career in investment management.
are you necessarily tied down to the KC area? if so, the olin one (wash U) would probably be a better bet, as it has a pretty good reputation in the midwest (and nationally as well). if your company won't pay for all of it, a partial tuition reimbursement might be better than nothing. _________________
Yeah, there's no doubt that getting all three could be overkill in a lot of situations. But in a lot of small to medium companies, like the one I'm at, I think some people have to wear a lot of hats. The CFA would mostly be for analyzing investment vehicles to earn interest on sitting cash and analyzing retirement investments for our employees. I agree that of the 3 it's the most expendable, since I could just leverage a consultant when I need heavier finance expertise.
As for being tied down to KC, I know that I want to raise my family here. But I am strongly considering going elsewhere for 2 years to get the MBA and then coming back. I feel like if I have a chance to attend a T10 school, then I should go.
I think for now I'm going to wait until I get a GMAT score and read some more admit profiles to gauge where I *could* end up if I applied around.
As an update, I received a GMAT score of 740 (Q47, V45) last month. Enrolled at UMKC this fall in the MS Accounting program to qualify for the CPA exam. Hope to build some leadership points and strengthen my academic profile while I'm there, and I'll apply in 1-year's time to a few top MBA programs. My current wishlist is Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Ross, Fuqua and Yale.
After really digging into MBA research, I concluded that a full-time two-year program is the way to go. If I did the WUSTL EMBA or Kelley Online degree I think I would always look back at that decision and regret not applying to the best business programs in the world.