I am Linda Geiger and have been serving as the Winnebagoland IMA Chapter Secretary for several years.
My career started in Medical Technology, working in a medical laboratory doing things like performing tests, cross matching blood, and spending countless hours looking through a microscope. My favorite area was Microbiology.
After a few years I went to graduate school and earned my MBA in the hopes of becoming a Laboratory Manager. At the same time I finished this degree, the hospital laboratory I worked in was sold to a for profit company. I became their Business Manager. When we parted ways, it was difficult for me to decide what to do next. Most hospitals, at least at that time, were nonprofit. Other businesses were not interested in me because I did not have an Accounting Degree.
I met someone from the Lakeshore IMA Chapter, and he suggested I join IMA. After joining I became a board member. After networking and talking with other IMA members, I decided to work a temporary accounting position at a manufacturer and began studying for the CMA exam. After passing the exam and having a successful temp experience that lasted nearly a year, I was able to secure a full-time accounting position, and my career as an accountant has grown from there.
I feel that belonging to IMA has been incredibly important to my success, which only grew when I became Secretary of the chapter. I have found the IMA to be a very supportive atmosphere, and I am happy to be a part of it. While attending IMA meetings, I have gained a lot of knowledge in a variety of areas that I would not have found elsewhere.
Being Secretary is a great way to learn about the Chapter and its members. I have simplified the work by having a Word document that acts as a template for each meeting. I take my notes on the agenda, and write up the minutes the next day while everything is still fresh. I send the Word document to the president to sign off on. When I get it back, I convert it to a PDF and send it to the Board Members. All together it takes less than 2 hours a month outside of the meetings.
I’ve been a member of IMA for several years. Still, when I remind my husband “I’m going to IMA,” he says, “you’re a what?” Get it, I am a… So, I am a member. While not an officer and not leading a committee, I’ve still had the opportunity to be a contributing member of our IMA chapter. I make it a priority to attend monthly meetings, not just for the CPE, but also to network with others and the interactions that lead to helping each other out – asking questions or sharing referrals for both business and personal. Being a liaison with Lakeland University was a no brainer because I was attending classes there myself and then as an Alumni, I still had the connections.
I also frequently attend board meetings as a member. As a member at the board meeting, I am able to contribute ideas and resources even though I had not committed to being an Officer or Director. Along the way, I’ve observed how board members work together to pitch in to help each other. The board does not pressure others to take on something, but rather work together to make our chapter successful – and we always have a lot of fun! As a board member, I do not need to commit much time outside of monthly board meetings and summer planning meetings. Given that the time commitment is no more than about 3 hours each month, I am able to make the IMA a priority in my schedule.
Knowing that, now that I have the time available, I decided I could take on a leadership role. I will be taking on the role of Vice President of Administration next year. I am comfortable taking on this role because I know that other board members will be there to help out if something comes up and no one will pressure me to take on more than I feel I can handle. I think it’s still going to feel a bit like being “just a member.”
I joined the IMA about 8 years before completing the CMA exam – though, for me, its true value became much more apparent after I passed the exam and started attending meetings regularly. About 6 months after passing the exam, I was recruited to become the Chapter Treasurer. I’m now in my 7th year in this role.
I originally heard about the IMA through a co-worker. The CMA goes hand in hand with the type of work I was doing (I’ve worked in manufacturing my entire career) and I thought pursuing the CMA designation would be the next step for me.
Passing the CMA exam has helped in my career growth, and the continuing education provided by our chapter has since helped me stay up to date on current topics. There are many months I go back to the office the next day and talk about the meetings with my staff. I try to take advantage of the opportunity to network and meet new people at the meetings and balance that with catching up with familiar faces. Earlier this year, I had a temporary opening on my staff, but I was having difficulty filling it. Connections I’ve made through the IMA helped find the person I was looking for!
Our chapter provides a wide variety of topics including both technical topics along with soft skills. Every summer when the Board meets to work on the agenda for the upcoming year, I am impressed with the assortment of topics discussed and how it all comes together. Prior to being on the board, I did not realize the amount of planning that goes into making the year run smoothly. We have a great group of people working together to make it happen, but we can always use more help!
I joined the Winnebagoland Chapter to help me network with other professionals, grow in my knowledge of the profession, help me stay current on “Hot Topics”, and to grow personally, including obtaining my Certified Managerial Accountant certificate. The opportunities that have presented themselves within the chapter and the people that I have had the privilege to work with and meet have been remarkable. I started going to meetings as a young professional and was shy and not as confident in my skills as I should have been. I didn’t know what I was in for! I would do a little networking during the meetings and listen intently to the speaker, learning many things that I could bring back to the office. I began to have more confidence in myself and continued to develop that confidence, taking the next step by attending a board meeting. I wanted to become a part of the planning and decision making. I didn’t take on a position at first because I wanted to see what might fit. I was then asked if I would help with the advertising and pricing for the annual program book. The other advertising committee members and I developed a matrix structure and went on to sell the advertising. The next year I helped plan and find sponsors for a key note speaker for the student meeting in April. I learned a lot about the planning process and gained valuable communication skills while getting all the details finalized and reporting out to the chapter president and board. I realized I was gaining skills that I was using on the job and developing them with the help of the chapter board. One area of growth I was getting more confident in was my public speaking. When asked to present in a group setting at work I was now saying yes and taking the opportunity, building upon past positive experiences with the IMA chapter. When I was asked to be Vice President of the chapter I took this as my next step to further my leadership skills and continue the success the chapter has had. In the VP role you work with and support the president throughout the year and then the next year you step into the president role. I continue to learn a great deal and be blessed by this opportunity that I was given.
Chapter Member Testimonials
I joined the IMA Winnebagoland chapter during my junior year of college and have since been an active member, including a board member over the last couple years. One of the main reasons I joined the chapter at such a young age was to network with other professionals as well as get involved in the community. As always, it’s quite difficult stepping out of your comfort zone to network with other professionals however, that was not the case with the IMA Winnebagoland chapter. The transition was a lot easier than I thought. This was primarily due to the leadership as well as members within the IMA organization.
Over the course of my membership, I’ve enjoyed all the events and topics that have been organized. The team has done an excellent job mixing both technical topics as well as soft skills. In addition, the organization has focused heavily on students, dedicating two meetings during the calendar year to ‘student nights’.
Three years ago, I was recruited to join the board. I felt I wasn’t ready, however, I thought I’d give it a shot. I was recruited to be the Director of the CMA program. This helped me stay current with the CMA exam as well as guide others who were interested in pursuing the certification. The feeling of being able to help others in the community was great. A year later, I continued with my position as Director and was also elected as the Vice President of the chapter. The VP title felt stressful at the thought of it but I was wrong. The rest of the board ensured that the transition was smooth and were extremely helpful. Some of the key skills I learned during my time on the board were public speaking, networking, time management, and prioritization. These skills have really helped shape the professional I am today and I’m very thankful to the IMA Winnebagoland chapter.
I joined the IMA while I was in college. I knew before I even got to UWO that I had no interest in public accounting, so when the Winnebagoland chapter presented at an accounting club meeting, the IMA seemed like a perfect fit for my career goals. I definitely didn’t participate as much as a should have while I was in school. After I graduated and got into the “real world” I decided it was time to get more involved, so I came to a meeting with the intention of getting on the board. By the end of the night I was the chapter’s Director of Meetings, a position I’ve now held for almost 12 years. I’ve picked up and given back various other titles over the years and have seen (and initiated) a lot of changes. I also recently got more involved at the regional level and am currently our Council Secretary.
Continuing Education opportunities aside – and there are a ton of those with the local chapter meetings, the regional and global conferences, and the myriad of IMA sponsored online webinars and learning sites – the thing that keeps me coming back is the people. Our local membership is incredibly diverse, with many different industries and types of accounting and finance disciplines represented. The networking opportunities at each one of our regular monthly meetings alone should inspire you to earn that perfect attendance award every year. I’ve met a lot of people in the last dozen years – mostly because everyone who comes to a chapter meeting has to talk to me! I consider many of them to be not just colleagues and peers, but also friends. It’s invaluable to have so many connections that you can turn to when you have a question about a certain topic. It’s also gratifying to be that resource person for other chapter members. Participating at a Council and Global level has only further expanded these contacts. As the role of finance in the management accounting field becomes one of a “strategic partner” rather than a “bean counter”, being able to speak to others with both finance and non-finance backgrounds is a necessity. What better place to start than with other likeminded finance and accounting professionals, faculty, and students?
It can be daunting, taking that step and saying, “I want to be more involved.” This is precisely why the board is trying to be more transparent about what kind of positions exist and what kind of time and talent is needed, in an effort to remove that “unknown” factor that so often leads to inaction. I encourage you to stick around after a speaker presentation and attend a board meeting, just to check it out. And while I realize I’m incredibly biased, I know our chapter is doing great things and I’d love for everyone to be involved in continuing to move our programs and other offerings forward.