This article originally appeared in Strategic Finance Magazine.
Herb Genatowski’s journey as an IMA® member began 50 years ago on September 1, 1968. At the time, he was working in Stamford, Conn., as a cost accountant for Pitney Bowes, and he was encouraged to become a member and join the local chapter of NAA (National Association of Accountants), IMA’s predecessor organization.
“My boss was an officer in the Greenwich/Stamford Chapter, and he urged all of his staff members to join,” Herb recalls. “He also needed someone to help with the chapter-sponsored events, including lining up speakers for the dinner meetings. I felt compelled to say yes, and I’m glad that I did.”
Herb spent several years as an active member of that chapter before moving to Bethel, Conn., where he became a charter member of the Danbury Chapter. He moved to Oklahoma in 1980 and is currently a member of the Tulsa Chapter.
As a 50-year IMA member, Herb has witnessed many changes to both the profession and the organization. For one thing, when Herb took the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam in 1983, it was a five-part pencil-and-paper test. He prepared for it by studying on his own as there were no online review courses to rely on and no online communities to provide support. Two years later, he became a CPA in Texas.
The CMA served Herb well throughout his long career as a cost and management accountant, where things have changed considerably since the start of his career. Recalling his early days at Pitney Bowes, Herb says: “We had a room with eight huge file cabinets, each with about 10 drawers and filled with IBM punch cards. We took one set of the cards at the beginning of the year, added and subtracted cards during the year, and brought back the remaining cards at year-end. That’s how we did work-in-process inventory back then.”
Herb enjoyed a long career at Pitney, starting as a cost accountant, moving up to supervisor, then to payroll supervisor, and then to senior financial analyst. Eventually he left Pitney to work for Chicago-based Packard Instrument Company as a budget manager. He later moved to West Virginia as a manager of cost accounting for a division of Harvey Hubbell Inc.
Then Herb relocated to Oklahoma to work for the chemicals division of oil-and-gas giant Phillips 66, serving as an in-house consultant for their cost accounting system and as a general manager for their foreign sales corporation. Later on, he took a position as manager of plant accounting and administration for Columbian Chemicals Company and then VP of finance and administration for Fibercast Company. Now he’s retired.
Reflecting on his days in management accounting, Herb recognizes the unique perspective that’s required to do the job well: “I think anyone can be a general accountant. To be a management accountant, though, you need to have a broader perspective of the whole organization—to see how the different parts of the organization work together. I’m grateful that, over the years, IMA has been a partner on my long, but satisfying, career path.”