If you’re asking yourself, “What is a Professor in Residence (PIR)?” you aren’t alone. I get this question often, as my role is a bit more ambiguous than, say, a lawyer’s or teacher’s job. Typically, a PIR works at a university or college and facilitates research, teaching, public service, and other activities. But my position within a nonprofit organization is unique, dynamic, and provides so much more.
I joined IMA in 2006 as Director of Research after having been a college professor for quite a number of years. Three years later, I was asked to also assume the role of IMA’s PIR. I accepted, as this was an opportunity to advance the management accounting profession by connecting with students and faculty around the world and draw on my extensive academic experience to design programs aimed at meeting this market’s very unique needs.
I work with IMA to achieve these goals by helping prepare the next generation of finance and accounting professionals who will work in business. One way we do that is through our CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program. Another is by supporting faculty teaching and research efforts.
With that in mind, one program I created that helps academics stay connected is IMA’s Campus Advocate program. Having taught at a school where I was essentially the only faculty member interested in teaching management accounting, I saw a need for a program that enabled faculty interested in management accounting education to network, ask questions, and share best practices.
Of course, students – the future of our profession – are a key part of the picture. I’ve been able to develop several programs with the goal of ensuring that students are adequately prepared for their future roles. A key consideration has been the realization that every school has differing programs, goals, and resources, so it’s important that IMA offer a variety of programs from which to choose.
The IMA Accounting Honor Society, to be launched in March, will recognize high-achieving accounting students. Not solely restricted to students interested in management accounting, I see this society as a way of recognizing and encouraging students to pursue the diverse and rewarding careers available in the accounting profession.
Advocate for the Profession
Being IMA’s PIR has enabled me to advocate for IMA and the management accounting profession. I get to interact with people all over the world who are passionate about the future of the organization and the profession. I find this aspect of the position very rewarding, in addition to the ability to help students find the career path that is best for them.
Regardless of whether or not a student initially pursues a public accounting career, more than 75% of all accountants end up pursuing careers in management accounting. To this end I formed a Joint Curriculum Task Force with the Management Accounting Section (MAS) of the American Accounting Association (AAA), which I chair. Our Task Force has developed an Accounting Education Framework that addresses these diverse education needs and has helped inform other curricular initiatives.
Changing Your Role
The combination of passion and talent led me to my position at IMA. You, too, could get so much more out of your position. Don’t be afraid to add to your job description or expand your perspective. There’s a wide variety of career options out there for you, many of which you may never have even considered!
What aspects of your current role would you change if you had the opportunity?
Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson
IMA Student and Academic Members Page – IMA
Faculty Titles Directory – Temporary Non-Track Positions – University of Connecticut