Financial managers are responsible for the fiscal well-being of an organization. Although a bachelor’s degree in finance is the minimum educational requirement, a growing number of companies are now seeking candidates that have also earned a master’s degree in accounting or business administration. Moreover, many employers opt for workers, like Carla Spalding, who have gained experience in this in-demand vocation.
“I started with accountant positions in various types of organizations, including public accounting, corporate and governmental entities,” said Spalding, a controller at Santa Monica College. “I transitioned into management in order to get away from my desk and have the opportunity to interact more with others outside of the accounting department. I still love working with numbers and analyzing data. A position as a financial manager allows for both.”
Why did you decide to become a financial manager?
“Financial managers have the opportunity to work with other professionals throughout an organization. I really enjoy working on a team and being able to bring meaningful financial information to the table to support team initiatives or assist in resolving issues.”
Which academic pathways did you take?
“I earned an associate’s degree from St. Clair County Community College, a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Cameron University, a master’s degree in taxation from Walsh College and have been a licensed certified public accountant in three states over the past 18 years. Having the CPA certification has allowed me opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
What makes your job worthwhile?
“It is so rewarding to use the skills I have developed through my own education and experiences in support of the exemplary work others are doing at Santa Monica College with our students.”
What is your message to aspiring financial managers?
“To be successful as a financial manager, you must build a strong foundation of accounting and business skills. As a financial professional, you will actually use what you study in college on a daily basis, so take your education seriously. When you enter the workforce, work hard and ask questions. And when you make a mistake, correct it, learn from it and move on.”
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.