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IMA Student Chapter Thrives

The student chapter for the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) at the University of South Carolina was formed three years ago and boasts 88 active members.  These members are junior- and senior-level accounting majors interested in following a career path to controllership and treasury type careers.  Their faculty advisors include Stan Smith, Janice Fergusson, and Timothy Baker, Lecturer, all Lecturers in the School of Accounting.

Why do students join the IMA Student Chapter?  The IMA Student Chapter provides its members significant “beyond the classroom” learning experiences, offers undergraduate research and case competition opportunities, provides meaningful opportunities for community service, and engages in programs leading directly to employment opportunities.

In May 2013, twelve student members traveled to Germany for a 10-day trip to study cultural differences that exist between American and European techniques and philosophies in sustainability and performance measurement metrics. They visited Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich touring plants of German firms including Bosch, Daimler, Seimens and Lapp Kabel. In October 2013, four students traveled to Chicago to study process flow and productivity while touring facilities at Caterpillar, Harley-Davidson and Miller-Coors Brewing.

Future trips include one in January 2014 to examine the complex financial operations of the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks, as well as visit Chik-Fil-A’s corporate headquarters to explore their cost and financial environments.  In May 2014, they will travel to Northern California to study three large corporate agricultural companies, a large entertainment company and tour the manufacturing facilities at one of the nation’s largest companies supporting the U.S. space program.

Additionally, the student IMA chapter takes six local field trips each academic year to visit various plant sites throughout South Carolina. They have visited ten companies including Bosch, Boeing, Eaton Corporation and Lennox. On these trips students examine process flow, layout and “dashboard” performance measurement systems being used in these state-of-the-art facilities.   They also participate in six “lunch and learn” sessions where local controller’s, CFO’s and community leaders address various technical accounting issues with the students.

Over the past three years, thirteen IMA student members have won four undergraduate research grants totaling $26,200 to conduct research in the following areas:

  • Surveying Management Accounting Techniques currently being used by companies across South Carolina (Trends and Techniques study);
  • Developing a Customer-profitability model for a large manufacturing company for use in the development of marketing and communications programs;
  • Benchmarking the LEAN performance measurement systems, developing a "Best Practices" catalog; and,
  • Exploring the cultural differences in performance measurement systems between German and American subsidiaries.

Finally, the IMA Student Chapter actively involved in several community service projects. These projects include Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), “Playtime” at a local children’s hospital, Christmas Toy Box project in conjunction with the IMA “parent” chapter at the local children’s hospital, Thanksgiving Food Box Project serving the support families of the University, and personal financial planning and free tax preparation services for the local Sister-Care organization.

In the future, the student IMA Chapter will be involved in co-sponsoring several conferences aimed at addressing emerging issues in management accounting.  In March 2014, they will use a grant from Fluor and will collaborate with the University’s National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) to hold a Controller’s Best Practice Panel at the Moore School.  In March 2015, they will collaborate with the professional student organization within the University’s Engineering School and Eaton Corporation to produce an Innovation Summit.  And in March 2016, they will work with the Lean Enterprise Institute to bring the annual LEAN Summit to USC.