Monday, June 08, 2009

90th IMA Conference: Day 2B--Conflict Resolution Studied, Central Illinois (and nearby MO) shines

We reconvened at noon today with "Brown Bag Luncheons." Conferees had a choice of three box lunches (beef, turkey or vegetarian) and about 50 topics. I went to "Best Practices of IMA Student Chapters;" all other participants were in higher education institutions near the Mississppi River about 100 miles from each other and between Quincy, IL and the Quad Cities. Four students--all from Western Illinois and in competition for "Best Student Chapter" and two faculty (Dell Ann Janney was the coordinator) from a small college in Canton, Missouri (Culver-Stockton) obviously had successful IMA chapters and were more than willing to share tips which had helped in their success (fund-raising, volunteer projects, national student competitions and officer succession). Additionally, the coordinator passed out guidelines for student chapter excellence; something that at best I previously had only been vaguely aware of.

About six concurrent sessions were available at 2 pm and I went to "Effective Conflict Management Strategies." Presenters Kym Anderson and Susan Weiss broke us into groups of 4-8 people and had us answer three questions: what created conflict at work, why did these causes exist and how was conflict addressed? They had a matrix of sorts (looked more like an box with an "X") with five conflict approaches:
avoid; accomodate; compromise; compete (or authoritatarian) and colloborate. Each approach had uses and problems--even collaboration, which sounds like the best in theory, is too time-consuming for trivial issues and urgent issues. The seminar was reasonably good but not the best of the programs.

At 3:45, I attended a panel discussion on the CMA and how it could help a young accountant's career. The all-star panel included moderator Dennis Whitney, Jerry Van Os of Westminister University in Utah, Kathy Fitzpatrick of Johnson and Johnson (yes, that J&J), Javier Canos of Racetrac (a southeastern gasoline chain) and new IMA CFO Doreen Reemen. The panel indicated the advantages which they felt they received from earning the CMA--one slide indicated that CMAs earn 20-25% more over their careers compared to accountants without certification. I posed a question about whether the CMA could help with future changes in accounting and the best answer came from an attendee who was on the Illinois State faculty (name Harlan Fuller) who said that studing for the CMA sharpened one's study skills and prepared accountants to research changes in the field.


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