When the Institute of Management Accountants received the resignation of president and chief executive officer Paul Sharman last month, it didn’t take long to find a replacement.Within hours, the institute’s board of directors tapped Jeffrey C. Thomson as his successor

“Jeff was the most likely choice for the job, since he is one of the principal architects behind IMA’s strategic plan,” explained IMA chairman John Pollara. “He has respect for IMA’s staff, board and outside stakeholders who are necessary for moving IMA forward. Since joining the staff of IMA three years ago, he’s been key to revitalizing the organization’s research practice, advocacy efforts and strategic planning.”

Sharman, who came aboard at the IMA in 2004 as interim director and was named both president and chief executive of the 60,000-plus-member group one year later, left to pursue other opportunities.

During his tenure, Sharman was a staunch and often outspoken defendant of the role of management accountants in the global economy. “During his four years at IMA, Paul Sharman has done a great job in bringing the organization to a higher level,” Pollara said. “We appreciate his contributions and wish him well in his new endeavors.”

Thomson, meanwhile, had proved himself at the IMA by conceiving and establishing the IMA Research Center of Excellence, which develops applications, guidance and tools that help empower management accountants in their role as strategic business partners.

Since joining the IMA staff in 2005, he has also been deeply involved in the institute’s strategic planning process, and he now sees it as his priority.

“First and foremost, we’ve got to implement our strategic plan,” Thomson said. “I’ve been a part of its creation. We need to implement a strategic plan that is inspiring, financially sound, and that secures IMA’s future.”

That plan has to be finished before the institute’s annual meeting, which begins June 14 in Tampa, Fla. That comes little more than a month after the IMA’s global conference in Dubai, where Thomson, barely two weeks in his new job, served as program chairman.

The day before leaving for Dubai, Thomson was talking strategic plans with the IMA’s Planning and Development Committee. “We’re right in the throes of our multi-year strategic planning process, which is very exciting,” he said. “We’re talking about new products and services, different market segments, balancing that with financial restraints, just like a real business.”

Thomson is no stranger to “real” business. Prior to joining the IMA, he spent 20 years with AT&T, where he rose to the post of chief financial officer for business sales — an $18 billion unit of the telecommunications conglomerate.

A top priority for Thomson in his new role is improving the throughput of professionals pursuing the Certified Management Accountant credential — getting them signed up and moving toward certification. Currently the IMA is nearing the 30,000 mark in CMA certification.

Identifying the IMA as a professional development organization, Thomson is searching for ways to satisfy the new needs of the upcoming generation of management accountants.

“From a market segment perspective, young professionals who are in the first two to three jobs of their careers have different needs,” Thomson said. “They are aspiring and career-oriented, but the way they want to communicate is different, so we have to address not only their content needs but their access needs.”

Thomson stressed the IMA’s commitment to its membership, who he refers to as its “customers.” Some 15 percent of the IMA membership is scattered across 100 countries, with the largest international member bloc in the Middle East.

A new idea that Thomson hopes to put into action is a series of “relationships” with various organizations in the accounting association arena.

“We have plenty of opportunities out there to serve the needs of our profession,” he said.

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