This article originally appeared in Strategic Finance Magazine.
I’ve been an IMA® member since 1978 when I was recruited to join the Cedar Rapids Chapter by a neighbor who was one of its first female members. In the 40 years since then, I’ve held almost every chapter office from secretary through president. The best way to know an organization is to be completely involved in leadership roles.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all my IMA roles and experiences. Early in my membership, I encouraged AEGON, the Dutch-owned company where I had been working for 10 years, to pay for our professional memberships. That offered me an opportunity to successfully recruit many of my coworkers to join the organization. Several of them also became active in officer roles.
In 1993-94, when I was chapter president, it was our 50th anniversary. A committee was formed to plan the celebration, and several older members who previously held leadership roles were on it. One committee member and his wife created a booklet outlining the chapter’s history with many photos from the past. We held the event at AEGON. Invitations were written in both English and Dutch and mailed from the Netherlands. In addition to members, several corporate officers from IMA, as well as some local dignitaries, attended. It was an unforgettable evening and one of my favorite IMA memories.
That same year, I organized a chapter annual Federal Income Tax Update education session in which the local CPA Society was invited to participate. Those joint tax updates continued for many years.
I wanted to be comfortable speaking in front of large groups in preparation for many of the more public officer roles of IMA, so I joined Toastmasters. I even won the 1993 Toastmaster of the Year recognition for the Marion Sunrise Toastmasters. Toward that goal, I participated in the Toastmasters Speakers Bureau, then graduated to IMA speaking opportunities such as being a featured speaker for the IMA retiree luncheon, conducting the monthly board meetings, and speaking at the monthly membership dinners. I also educated myself in PowerPoint presentation and took classes in effective public speaking.
In our chapter’s early years, Rockwell Collins employees were very active. My Toastmasters speaking engagements gave me the opportunity to speak to some of the company’s professional groups, and through those acquaintances I was able to encourage some of their employees to become active in IMA again.
My business career spanned everything from administrative assistant in the order department of a crane manufacturing company to 34 years with AEGON handling payroll processing, financial reports and tax returns, accounts payable, accounts receivable, cost accounting, and investments. Eventually I had to choose between corporate accounting and investment accounting and chose the latter. My participation in IMA has been a growth opportunity—learning new skills and honing my organizational abilities, both helpful to my job. But the most desirable aspect is the friendships I’ve made with like-minded members.
Carol Borlaug Bruch is a lifelong member of IMA’s Cedar Rapids Chapter. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.