SMU undergraduate, one of three in the world selected to attend the IMA Jimmie Smith Student Leadership Experience Programme

Keith Lim Eng Kian, a double degree final year student from SMU’s School of Accountancy and Lee Kong Chian School of Business was one of the three participants from the world selected to attend the prestigious Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Jimmie Smith Student Leadership Experience Programme in Minneapolis, United States back in June this year.

The other two participants were Brandi Tate, a Graduate Student in Accountancy at Illinois State University and Charles Csaszar, a Graduate Student in Accountancy at The University of Scranton.

The Jimmie Smith Student Leadership Experience programme

The 2022-2023 IMA Jimmie Smith Student Leadership Experience (JSSLE) programme is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that allows up to five selected students to learn about IMA’s governance framework. Participants were given the opportunity to attend IMA’s Accounting & Finance Conference in Minneapolis, where they interacted with global volunteer leaders, staff, and members and attended training sessions on a range of business topics. This experience enables selected students from IMA endorsed colleges and universities to participate in the IMA global board of directors meeting to learn how governance works in non-profit organisations.

As part of the application, Keith had to submit a resume, two letters of recommendations (one from an academic and another from someone that he had worked with previously), and answer a series of questions revolving around topics such as volunteerism and how he intended to make the best of this experience, if selected.

According to Keith, “The selection committee shared that they were impressed with our applications, particularly regarding the answers to the aforementioned questions, and the good word put in by our referees’ letter of recommendation. Indeed, it was such a privilege to be one of three participants selected for the 2022-2023 JSSLE program.”

During the six months programme, in addition to attending the Annual Accounting & Finance Conference in Minneapolis, Keith had the opportunity to attend four monthly virtual meetings with the IMA Volunteer Leadership Committee, where participants learned more about the inner workings of the committee, such as Global Board operations, volunteerism, and discussions on DE&I related topics.

“I was also invited to participate with the Committee on Ethics as a reviewer for the Carl Menconi Ethics Case Competition. After a thorough reading and analysis of the submitted ethics cases and teaching notes, the committee had an intense discussion on the merits of each submission before deciding on the final winner. It was truly a rare opportunity to have my inputs heard and to have contributed to the decision on the final winner. Last but not the least, I was also part of the Board Buddy programme, where I was paired up with Joscel Delos Cielos, who is an IMA Global Board Director. As Joscel also sits on the IMA Philippines Chapter, it was interesting to gain insights about the similarities and differences between the local chapters within the Asia Pacific Region as compared to those in the US. Additionally, we had conversations on topics such as career pathing and volunteerism”, said Keith.

The IMA Accounting & Finance Conference in Minneapolis from 11 to 14 June 2023

Held annually, the theme of this year’s IMA Accounting & Finance Conference was “Step Up”. The objective of the conference was designed to inspire, engage, and connect peers and world-class experts within the management accounting and wider community. Most of the attendees were accounting and finance working professionals (IMA members), as well as academics in the field.

The conference included a number of keynote presentations by leading experts and influential speakers such as Bob Herz, CPA, FCA, Former Chairman, Financial Accounting Standards Board (original member of the International Accounting Standards Board) and Marsha Hunt, CPA, Board Member, Financial Accounting Standards Board. There were more than 40 sessions for conference attendees to choose from, which revolved around trending topics such as finance transformation, latest industry technology innovations, ESG, sustainability, and even the metaverse.

Keith also attended attended the finals of the IMA 2023 U.S. Student Case Competition, where the finalist teams presented their solution to the student case “Kunapipi Gardens: Transfer Pricing in the Service Industry”, which was a case featured in the August 2022 issue of Strategic Finance magazine. “It was insightful to hear about the various strategic analysis and recommendations presented by the finalist teams. Additionally, the Q&A presented a fresh perspective, where the finalist teams were required to think about how data analytics can be further leveraged for Key Performance Indicator monitoring and evaluation as per their groups’ recommendations,” said Keith.

Keith’s biggest takeaway from the experience

“My JSSLE experience has been absolutely amazing. My biggest takeaway would definitely be attending the four-day conference in Minneapolis. It was an invaluable experience to be exposed to the current trends and issues in the accounting and finance industry, technological innovations in the space, and the future of accounting and finance. This supplemented the academic knowledge that I have picked up in school and it was a great opportunity to network with the conference attendees to learn more about their academic and/or professional experiences.”

IMA offers the following professional certification programmes – the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) program and the Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis (CSCA) program. As a CMA Scholarship Program recipient, Keith will start pursuing his CMA certification before graduation. In addition, after learning more about benefits of completing and attaining the CSCA Certification at the conference, he hopes to explore pursuing the CSCA Certification in future as well.