CMA Profile: Saurav K. Dutta, Ph.D.
When it came time for Saurav Dutta to begin his Ph.D. studies in accounting at the University of Kansas, he found that he needed something quite important: basic-level accounting courses. Having received his undergraduate degree in aeronautical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, Dr. Dutta didn't have any formal accounting education. Fortunately, however, his advisors offered a solution: they recommended that he take the CMA® exam.

"It really was the idea of my faculty advisors, who thought that rather than take the undergraduate-level courses, I could take the CMA exam instead," Dr. Dutta explained. "They knew that studying for and passing the exam would provide me with a broad-based education in accounting and get me up to speed with what I needed to start pursuing advanced studies."

Using the self-study method, Dr. Dutta spent about a year and half preparing for the CMA exam, which he passed in 1989. He performed so well, in fact, that he received the Robert Beyer Award for achieving the second-highest total exam score for his examination period. That award certainly helped in Dr. Dutta's career pursuits, which have included academic positions at prestigious business schools.

Upon earning his Ph.D. in 1991, Dr. Dutta served as assistant professor at the Graduate School of Management at Rutgers University, where he taught for eight years. Following that, from 1999 through this past year, he held the position of associate professor and, eventually, chair of the Department of Accounting and Business Law at the University at Albany-SUNY. Along the way, he has published extensively in the field of accounting and auditing in various national and international journals.

Most recently, Dr. Dutta began an assignment in a highly visible and influential post: this past August, he started a one-year term as an Academic Accounting Fellow for the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). In this capacity, Dr. Dutta serves as a research resource for SEC staff by interpreting and communicating research materials as they relate to the agency. In addition, Academic Accounting Fellows are assigned ongoing projects in the Chief Accountant's office that include rulemaking, serving as a liaison with professional accounting standards-setting bodies, and consulting with registrants on accounting, auditing, independence, and reporting matters.

Although there are many factors that contributed to his receiving this prestigious assignment with the SEC, Dr. Dutta believes that his CMA certification had something to do with it: "I always feel that having my CMA gives me a leg up and instant credibility. I think it certainly helped me to get this opportunity with the SEC, because I think it demonstrates that I can look at things from a very wide perspective."

Given his experience as a CMA, Dr. Dutta often encourages his students to consider pursuing the certification. "I often tell my students about my CMA experience and recommend to them that they take the exam. It's particularly good to take the exam early on, because earning such a certification can really help to set them apart with recruiters in a very tough job market. I'd like to think some of them have followed my advice."