Nancy Milani, CEM, CMP is your “go-to” person when planning trade shows and events. With Nancy’s experience in producing and coordinating over 200 events, she has gained more than 20 years of knowledge that she uses to consult, act as a mentor and facilitate workshops and presentations for entrepreneurs. Nancy currently produces two B2B shows and conferences and two consumer shows, along with 20 other annual events as the Manager of Shows & Events for the Thunder Bay Chamber of Secrets.
Nancy earned her Certification in Exhibition Management (CEM) through IAEE’s CEM program and now facilitates several courses in Canada, the U.S. and Asia. Nancy is certified to teach all CEM classes in the program, but this year she is focusing on Conference & Meeting Management, Selecting Service Contractors, Security, Risk & Crisis Management and Housing & Registration Management. IAEE’s CEM program is integral to trade show management because each course is designed to help students understand how to manage a trade show or event from start to finish. IAEE’s CEM program is the only one of its kind in that it is a fully loaded educational program devised of extensive internal and external research.
Nancy teaches these courses to help students create contingency plans, interpret valuable data to devise an experiential plan, and learn crucial skills in managing, designing and budgeting events. IAEE spoke with Nancy to dig a bit deeper as to why she joined the exhibitions and events industry and how the CEM Learning Program has helped shape her future.
How long have you been in the industry?
Since 1990 (does that ever make me sound old!)
How did you become involved in the industry?
I took a position for United Way on their annual fundraising campaign and was looking for an alternative way for donors to support the campaign, so I decided to start a few fundraising events, which happened to be hugely successful. I had no experience in event management whatsoever (didn’t even fathom you could have a career in it back then), but it was such a natural fit, I never looked back.
What are your responsibilities in your current role?
I currently produce two trade shows & conferences and two consumer shows, along with 20 other events annually as the Manager of Shows & Events for the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce. I also consult, act as a mentor, and facilitate workshops and presentations to entrepreneurs and those starting out in business.
What drives your involvement with IAEE and the CEM Learning Program?
As a true believer of lifelong learning, I see the tremendous value of the CEM Learning Program for the industry itself, our clients, our employers and members who take the program. It was invaluable to me and I am pleased to be a part of it.
When did you become a member of the CEM Learning Program faculty?
I had been teaching at the college for years in the Business and Hospitality programs and was enjoying it but thought it would be even more rewarding to teach what I love to do every day and what I am most passionate about, especially to those who are equally as interested and enthused.
What was your most memorable experience from teaching?
There have been many terrific experiences – probably a recent one stands out. Last year the youngest ever CEM graduate in Canada completed her final class. At the end of the class, she told me she was only thinking of taking the one initial course and that she enjoyed it so much that I inspired her to continue her accreditation. Ironically, it’s the new ideas and energy from the younger generation and the seasoned experts in the CEM classroom that keep me inspired.
Do you have any advice for other CEMs who may want to start teaching?
It’s a great opportunity if you have the time to devote to it. It does require a lot of prep time for each and every course, so it’s important to remember that. However, it is extremely rewarding.
Utilize the many resources you have: speak with other instructors about their experiences and tap into their knowledge. They are a great group and very willing to share and mentor. The IAEE team is always available, most helpful and so organized!
What are a few of the benefits of teaching CEM Learning Program courses?
One of the benefits is meeting so many interesting people in our industry with such a wealth of experience.
Another is keeping connected and discussing current issues, trends, challenges, etc. which we all face on a daily basis. The industry knowledge-sharing in the classroom is phenomenal.
How has the CEM designation helped you in your career?
The CEM designation is becoming so widely recognized and respected in Canada, the U.S. and globally. It helped me raise my standards, level of professionalism and knowledge in the industry. Certainly, there was a new level of appreciation and respect from my employer, associates and clients.
Are you involved with any other committees or boards with IAEE or another industry association?
I am going into my 3rd term as board director with the Canadian Association of Exposition Management(CAEM). I am currently co-chairing the CAEM Annual Conference being held 26-28 June 2016 in Prince Edward Island and previously co-chaired the Membership and Education committees.