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What does it take to be the CGFO of the Year?
The CGFO of the Year is based on the highest test score for each part of your exams then averaged and compared to the averages of the other eligible candidates.  It may take one try or many tries but it does take determination, fortitude, willingness, expectation and more determination.  During the FGFOA Annual Conference Business Luncheon, the Certification Committee announced Rosalie Ola Ola from the City of Coral Gables as the 2017 CGFO of the Year.  Rosalie was kind enough to answer a few interview questions about the exam. I’d like to share with anyone who is in the process or is interested in getting their CGFO certification so they can learn from her success.

Bio: Rosalie has worked for the City of Coral Gables for 8 years and has her Bachelor in Accountancy from Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Rosalie is married with two boys (7 and 12 years old). She enjoys listening to IBook’s while driving and walking, and volunteering at her church.

CM: Were you surprised to receive the CGFO of the Year?
RO: Yes, very much so.  

CM: Why did you want to pursue getting your CGFO certification?
RO:  The certification gives more value to my position as Assistant Director.  Also, having completed the review and passed the exam; gave a message to the city management their employees are valuing the efforts to support the development of employees and dedication to world class values of the City. In addition, having the certification is also a step for me to be able to transfer my CPA license from California to Florida.

CM: How much did you have to study?  How did you study? 
RO:  I prepared at least two years prior to taking the test.  I printed the materials posted online after each review/testing period and plenty of repetitive reading. When my friend passed the exam in the fall of 2014, I started getting interested and asked for her review materials.  I know I have strong background in accounting and financial reporting so I focused on other parts such as budgeting and investment. I observed many candidates are not exposed to all parts of the exam due to their line of work therefore; devoting ample time to review and prepare for all parts will really help.

CM: Which review did you find most helpful? DVD, Review Class, Group Study?
RO:  The review classes and materials, plus the reviewers are dedicated individuals to help candidates succeed.

CM: What made you successful?  
RO:  I would say there are several factors that helped in my passing the CGFO exam.  One is my experience as an external auditor of local government. I had almost eight years of experience in financial audits of local governments, which required learning how to prepare the CAFR, understanding all GASBs, single audits and compliance audits and overall operation of a local government.  Another factor was the fact that in 2016, the year I took the exam, our city went through the bond rating process with the three rating agencies (Moody’s, S&P and Fitch); and issued public bonds.  As part of the team, I gained a lot of insight from the financial advisors, bond counsel, disclosure counsel, underwriters, and others.  This experience made the informational knowledge I acquired from the review materials to be a tangible experience. 

CM: Do you have any suggestion for possible candidates?
RO: Study the subject materials whenever possible and take a review course to help you focus on certain areas.  Draw on your common sense as a last resort when you are not sure.

Let us give Rosalie another round of applause for becoming the 2017 CGFO of the Year.  We look forward to seeing you become a CGFO or even the next CGFO of the Year.