The Carolinas Regional Council (later Carolinas Council) was founded in 1971 when there were nine chapters in the two Carolinas with approximately 2,000 members. It was the first Council formed of the twenty-four Councils in the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and was chartered in 1975.
One of the prime movers in the formation of the Carolinas Council was Charles W. (Chuck) Lent who had a long history of very active IMA involvement. Before moving to this area, he had been President of the Lansing (Michigan) chapter. After moving here, he was President of the Charlotte chapter and the first President of the Catawba Valley chapter, which he was instrumental in getting organized. In between, he served as a national director and was a national Vice President (1966-1967. He was a natural to spearhead the organization of the Carolinas Council and become its first President.
In the early years, the Council concentrated on chapter operations and developing a "team spirit" among the member chapters. The success of this effort was evident at the annual conference in Dallas in June 1973 when ten of the Council's thirteen chapters won banners and one chapter received the Stevenson Trophy. Over the years, the Carolinas Council expanded reaching its peak in the mid-1980s with twenty-two chapters and approximately 4,000 members. The Council currently consists of seventeen chapters with nearly 3,400 members.
During one of the Council's early meetings, it was decided to institute a means of recognizing accomplishment by individual chapters, specifically to recognize a "Best" and "Most Improved" council member chapter each year, similar to the competition categories and awards at the National level. After deciding on traveling trophies inscribed with each year's winners, the next question was the nomenclature. Several names were suggested and listed on a handy blackboard. Two names stood out to everyone. By acclamation, the competition and trophy for the "Best" chapter was named for Chuck Lent. Almost as obvious was the naming of the "Carolinas Trophy" for the "Most Improved" chapter. Rules for the Intra-council competition were established and, as with the national competition, have been modified over the years to emphasize different aspects of chapter performance and participation in Council activities. As the importance of professional development grew, it was decided to add a trophy to recognize the Council member chapter that obtained the highest number of professional education points in the Institute's inter-council competition. This award was first made during the 1989-1990 council year and is referred to as the Carolinas Professional Development Award.
It soon became obvious that chapters (especially the new and smaller ones) needed assistance in the area of Professional Development, so the Council began sponsoring an Annual Accounting Conference for all chapters in the Council.
The first conference was held in the fall of 1974, in Charlotte, NC, and was a huge success. A conference has been held annually since that time with recent conferences held in Myrtle Beach, SC in late April or early May in conjunctions with one of the Council's CLEW sessions and the Spring Council meeting.
Three professional development meetings are also held each year in conjunction with the other three Council meetings. Location of these meetings rotates throughout the Council territory with different chapters planning and hosting each meeting. In addition to professional development meetings on the morning of Council meetings, many chapters are currently providing a Regional Education Assistance Program (REAP) on the Friday before the council meeting. The REAP programs typically offer a full eight hours of CPE with a professional speaker provided by the IMA national office. The Carolinas Council usually offers between twenty to fifty hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) each year.
The Council provides many leadership-training opportunities for Council officers and directors, chapter delegates, and other participants. (Each chapter has three voting delegates but all members are urged to attend Council meetings and participate in Council activities). The Council is a strong supporter of the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified in Financial Management (CFM) programs and assists chapter members in attaining this professional recognition.
The Corporate Development Program is an important area of Council activity. Council members call on corporate leaders in the Carolinas to acquaint them with the benefits of IMA membership. They discuss the CMA and CFM certification programs as well as other educational benefits of membership. Since many of the Council representatives are in positions of responsibility with their respective organizations, they are "naturals" for this activity. Initial efforts in this area have resulted in membership growth and enhanced the image of IMA as a truly professional organization.
The newest area of Council activity is the Financial Executive of the Year Award. This program is co-sponsored by accountants on call and the Institute of Management Accountants and the first award was given in 1997. Nominations of deserving individuals (Nominees are not required to members of the Institute of Management Accountants) who reside in the area serviced by the Carolinas Council are made through accountants on call offices. A selection committee of three Council members and one accountants on call representative select the winner. The winner is recognized at a special luncheon held at the Spring Accounting conference in Myrtle Beach, SC.
The success of the Carolinas Council is due not only to providing professional development, and annual accounting conference, leadership training opportunities, and corporate development activities, but also its goal of serving the IMA membership in the most professional manner possible. That is what today's Management Accountant demands and deserves.