UNI alum achieves global top 5 score on CMA exam

UNI alum achieves global top 5 score on CMA exam

Photo of Derek Koppes with arms crossed.Derek Koppes didn’t know what to expect when he took the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam this past winter. What he certainly didn’t expect was the email he received just a few weeks later, informing him he placed among the top five scores globally.

A few months later, a plaque commemorating the honor showed up at his childhood home in Cascade, Iowa.

“It was pretty surprising when I received it, honestly,” said Koppes, who also earned a top five score in Iowa on the CPA exam a few months prior. “I had put a lot of time into the CPA exam (at UNI), so I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself for the CMA exam, and that might have helped me.”

The CMA exam consists of two exams as opposed to four individual exams for the CPA. And where the CPA exam focuses more on auditing, financial analysis and taxation and regulation, the CMA exam homes in on performance management, cost management and internal controls.

A traditional career pathway with CMA certification looks a little different than the traditional CPA track, focusing more on managerial accounting. But for Koppes, having both is important, since it opens doors for his future.

“The CMA is important for me just because it’s more focused on the operations of a business,” said Koppes, who is an advisory associate at KPMG in Denver. “I’m not sure if I’ll spend my whole career in public accounting. So, it’s that, and it’s having more credentials, which is a good thing, especially because I don’t have my heart set on one career path right now.”

For those thinking of completing both exams, Koppes added: “Anyone taking the CPA, just take the CMA because there is going to be overlap and your mind's just going to be already in that exam and studying zone.”

The education and preparation Koppes received at the Wilson College of Business for the CPA exam came in handy when getting ready for the CMA exam. Not only did some of the subject material cross over, but the study techniques did as well.

Koppes had a shorter amount of time to study for the CMA, but he leveraged what he learned in UNI’s structured CPA courses. One technique helped – going through a bank of questions, answering them, then looking at each one critically and in-depth. Why are these answers right? Why are these wrong?

Koppes admits he’s a strong test taker – and his recent successes on the CMA and CPA exams attest to that – but he credits UNI’s teachings as essential.

“A lot of those study techniques I learned from studying for the CPA exam stuck with me,” Koppes said. “A lot of credit goes to UNI and the CPA program because that definitely did give me the structure I needed. I probably would’ve done this a lot differently if I was on my own.”

If you want to join the high ranks of high achievers like Koppes, discover how the Wilson College of Business can propel you to global excellence.