A Stepping Stone to Test-Taking Success

PROVO, Utah – Jun 09, 2020 – Getting the highest CMA score worldwide is no easy feat, but for BYU Marriott masters of accounting student Josh Mortensen, studying for the CMA exam was like preparing for one of his competitive piano competitions—daunting but rewarding. 

“The amount of time you spend preparing can make you go crazy, being in solitude for many hours although tough, is worth the effort in the end,” says Mortensen. 

Mortensen, who is from Eagle Mountain, Utah, grew up performing in competitive classic piano competitions. "I always had a drive to do well and be detail oriented in whatever I was doing,” says Mortensen. “This is still true as I begin to build a career. I attribute a lot of that to my background in piano.” 

After deciding to attend BYU, Mortensen chose to major in accounting when he met the BYU Marriott faculty.  “I explored a few different fields of study,” says Mortensen. “I studied some classes in the medical field as well as in the business school. The accounting faculty stood out to me; they were kind and welcoming.” 

Mortensen initially thought he would use his accounting degree as a stepping stone to another field, but he quickly realized that he wanted to work in accounting long term. “I liked accounting more than I thought I would, and I started to look into what career paths were available,” says Mortensen. “Even though I knew I wanted to do accounting, I had a hard time deciding on a specific path. Then I took a research seminar class and found I enjoyed learning about accounting standards, and about where decisions are made about the accounting profession.” 

With this career path in mind, Mortensen decided to take the Certified Management Accountant exam. “To go into the career field I wanted, you need to have a comprehensive or holistic view of not only accounting but also business to succeed,” says Mortensen. 

Mortensen’s background in piano prepared him for the rigorous studying necessary to prepare for the CMA exam; he earned the highest score not just in the United States but worldwide. “Studying and earning the CMA certification was one way to expand my knowledge and become more familiar with how to make not just good accounting decisions but good business decisions as well,” says Mortensen. 

After his graduation in April 2020, Mortensen, his wife, Marissa, and their baby boy moved to New Jersey where Mortensen now works for Financial Executives International as an accounting policy manager.  

“This job I accepted is a two-year position that gives me an opportunity to learn as much as I can and use it as a stepping stone to the next phase in my career,” says Mortensen. “I enjoy technical accounting, so I anticipate finding a career in that sphere.”

Mortensen attributes his test-taking success to the program and faculty at BYU Marriott. “One of the biggest highlights of the accounting program has been working with professors and learning from their experience,” says Mortensen. “Interacting with professors and learning from them, not only in the class but outside the class, has proved invaluable.”

Mortensen isn’t the only BYU Marriott accounting student to do well on exams that prepare them for a future career in the accounting world. “The BYU accounting students are all so impressive,” says CMA Lisa M. Beaudoin, senior director of business development at the Institute of Management Accountants, the company who runs the CMA exam. “In addition to top scorers, BYU students pass our rigorous exam at an extremely high rate.  We’re very proud to be working with the wonderful faculty and students at BYU.”

Josh and Marissa Mortensen with their son.
Josh and Marissa Mortensen with their son.
Josh Mortensen
Josh Mortensen

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kate Monroe