1. Why did you want to become a CPFO?
I started working in government shortly after earning my MBA. I thought I knew a lot about finance when I joined the Office of State and Local Finance in the TN Comptroller of the Treasury in early 2011 as their Sr. Analyst, but I soon realized there was still a lot to learn. My Director at the time, Mary Margaret Collier, was a CPFO and highly recommended the program. Seeing how the material would improve my understanding of government finance and help in my career, I started studying, but my schedule did not allow for the travel it would take to complete the tests in other states, as there were none offered in Tennessee. With the new format and tests offered at Pearson testing centers I signed up.
2. What did you learn going through the process?
I work mostly in budgeting and debt management oversight of local governments in Tennessee and studying for the other facets of the program forced me to understand municipal finance more completely. This has come in handy over the two years I was preparing for the tests, and I know it will help in the future.
3. How has becoming a CPFO made an impact on you in your profession?
Having only passed the last test two months ago, I’ll focus on the future. I know that what I learned in the course will make me a better municipal finance manager and I hope to bring the holistic learnings to what I do each day and make government work better, which happens to be the Mission of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.
4. What would you say to others thinking about becoming a CPFO?
I brought the idea of the CPFO program to my division, and we had 5 people start the program right after the new launch. A coworker has also passed all the tests (even after leaving for another job). I encourage the others still studying to complete the journey. What I would say to someone considering the CPFO program is the same as I said to my coworkers: GFOA is a great organization with great principles and this program will help us better help the governments we oversee and therefore the people working and living in these governments. No one takes a job in government to get wealthy, we do it to help people and to make the world a better place. This program will help you do those things better. If I can ever be of any help along the way, please reach out at Steve.Osborne@cot.tn.gov.