It’s not unusual for a teacher to work another job on the side. Matthew Haussmann, CMA takes his ‘second job’ to a whole new level.
In addition to teaching introductory financial accounting at BCIT, Matthew also serves on a part-time basis as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Forces and is currently building his family’s real estate business with properties in British Columbia and Alberta.
As Lieutenant-Colonel and Deputy Commander of the Canadian Forces’ 1 Area Support Group, Matthew oversees the management of infrastructure and support functions for the army’s western Canada operations. Making the leap from accounting to joining the army may not be a typical career path, but Matthew maintains that there’s a solid connection. “All government functions are coming under increasing financial pressure,” says Matthew. “Having my CMA has enabled me to navigate better than many of my peers some of the situations in which I’ve found myself. In addition, the CMA program gave me an initial grounding in strategy, which served me well through Army Staff College, where military strategic decision-making is first taught.”
During a 7-month deployment to Afghanistan last year, Matthew worked in a NATO headquarters as chief of staff, and had the opportunity to apply his strategic management accounting skills in some unique circumstances. “When I was in Afghanistan, I was asked to craft a pitch for financing a series of workshops on gender integration and women’s issues to be delivered to senior Afghan police and Ministry of Interior personnel. I was able to demonstrate both a financial ROI and the alignment of the program with the overall mission’s strategic goals in clear terms to ensure that we secured the funding.”
A Q&A with Matthew Haussmann
CMA grad year: 1996
Day jobs: Lecturer, British Columbia Institute of Technology; Deputy Commander of 1 Area Support Group, Canadian Forces; President, Haussmann Properties Ltd.
Hometown: Providence, Rhode Island
Currently resides: Vancouver, British Columbia
Why did you become a CMA? I was doing a commerce degree at the University of British Columbia and enjoyed management accounting much more than financial accounting. I naively assumed I’d be doing mostly management accounting if I became a CMA. I then went on to several controller-type roles which dispelled my earlier preconceptions. So you could say that I made the right decision for the wrong reasons.
Currently Reading: I just finished Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes, and before that Fall of Giants by Ken Follet. I completed a Master’s thesis last summer for which I read a lot of foreign policy journal articles and books, so aside from reading The Economist every week, I’m taking a bit of a break from non-fiction.
As a financial management instructor at BCIT, what’s the most common (or most amusing) question you hear from today’s accounting students? The most common question that I hear is ‘will the video be posted soon.’ I’ve taken to recording my lectures and tutorials and posting them onto YouTube for my students to access. This way they can repeatedly listen to the lecture concepts that they find challenging at the time of day that works best for them.
What were some of the challenges you faced during your career and how did you overcome them? In my experience there are two kinds of challenges. The first is when some difficult task or obstacle confronts you. The key to overcoming these is to have smart people working for / with you, giving clear direction as to the overall effect that you want to achieve, and letting them surprise you with the clever ways they conjure up to solve the problem, followed by a lot of hard work to implement the solution. The second kind of challenge is when you have personally made a mistake. This usually hurts other people or the organization, or both. My solution has been to apologize (to boss or subordinate alike), learn from the mistake, and move on. Two of the most powerful words in the English language are “I’m sorry.”
What has been the most rewarding part of your experience thus far? Professionally, it’s been the people with whom I’ve worked. When I started out, I was a bit full of myself and intent on chasing the next raise or promotion, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that friendships and work relationships I’ve established and things I’ve learned from others are far more valuable and rewarding. Personally, it’s been watching (and helping) my children develop into their distinct selves. The struggle for me has always been to find the right balance between the personal and the professional.
What are some of the major projects/initiatives for 2012 that you’re currently working on? Professionally, I want to further refine my teaching methods and tweak my delivery to better improve the learning experience for my students. I also want to add another property to my portfolio. Personally, I want to spend more time with my family – working on that personal / professional balance.
I noticed that you’re a fan of Crossfit – any other activities/hobbies that keep you busy outside of work? My primary ‘hobby’ is my work with the Army reserve. Intellectually, I love to learn, and have interests in economics, public policy, and politics. In addition to that, I ski fast, jog slowly, and do Crossfit to stay fit enough to chase after my kids. As a parent, I do seem to spend a lot of time driving my three daughters between soccer practices, choir rehearsals, dance practices, and piano lessons.
Read the original profile of Matthew Haussmann in Update magazine.
Know another extraordinary CMA that we should feature on the blog or in Update? Let us know in the comments or by email.