IAEE’s CEM program is taking over the world! Naomi Wagschal, CEM, CMP is one of the instructors for the worldwide program. In 2013 Naomi was inducted into the Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM) Hall of Fame for her contributions to that Association and the exposition industry in Canada. Naomi has taught Conference & Meeting Management, Strategic Planning & Management and Security, Risk & Crisis Management in Canada and Thailand. The program is just getting off the ground in Thailand. The TCEB (Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau) is making a great effort to bring this professional training to MICE (Meetings, Incentive Travels, Conventions, and Exhibitions) industry.
Naomi’s goal in each course is to get the students to a comfortable level with the subject so that they can apply the learning when they return to their jobs. Naomi enjoys teaching the Conference & Meeting Management course because she has a lot of experience to share with the students, and it is a topic that many wish to learn since they are considering adding those elements to their own shows. This specific course is important to the CEM program because teaches students how to manage events on any scale large to small through formal training sessions or seminars, or through informal exhibitor-provided demonstrations, presentations or networking. In Conference & Meeting Management students learn the value in face to face experiences and study how to perfect their own skills in managing events. Naomi also enjoys teaching Strategic Planning & Management because, by the end of the course, she has walked the class through the entire process and has made it a little less intimidating by actually developing a show strategic plan through exercises completed during the class. This is valuable to the students of the CEM program because they can take this process and apply it to future jobs.
IAEE sat down with Naomi to discuss her experience in the industry and her involvement in the CEM Learning Program.
How long have you been in the industry?
How did you become involved in the industry?
I was hired to work on the CFPC Association Journal, Canadian Family Physician, and the college was hosting an international convention (WONCA) nine months later. The publisher was also responsible for selling the exhibit hall. I took this over from him and, in addition to my advertising and circulation responsibilities, managed to sell more booths than he expected. I then also assumed responsibility on-site for managing the exhibit hall. I had great suppliers who helped me tremendously. During that first experience I was crippled (never wear high heels for five days running around on the thinly carpeted concrete floors of a convention centre) but fell in love with the total experience. I solved my foot problems and determined that show management was the career I was destined for but never knew about until I did it.
What are your responsibilities in your current role?
Since that first experience, our convention has grown tremendously. Attendance and exhibit sales are ten times what they were in the years when we operated an Annual Scientific Assembly. Now, in addition to my continued show management responsibilities I also do strategic planning, site selection, facility and hotel negotiations and contracting, budgeting, sales, operations, logistics, and personnel management.
What drives your involvement with IAEE and the CEM Learning Program?
In 2006, I became the President of the Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM). This coincided with the beginning of CAEM’s co-location agreement with IAEE for the CEM Learning Program. I wanted to lead by example and immediately began working on my CEM. I managed to complete the nine required courses within a year. In addition, given the dearth of training programs in show management at our local colleges, the CEM was an ideal opportunity to solidify and expand my knowledge. The courses add an additional dimension to my understanding of the exposition industry and business management best practices.
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When did you become a member of the CEM faculty?
I joined the CEM faculty in 2014, after completing my tenure on the CAEM Executive Committee.
What was your most memorable experience from teaching?
The first course I taught was on Crisis Management. Everything was going so well and I was confident that the class had managed to comfortably absorb the content. Unfortunately, when the participants tried to sign on to do the exam many were unable to connect to Blackboard. We had our own crisis that day! I’d love a chance to teach that course again without the drama at the end.
Do you have any advice for other CEMs who may want to start teaching?
Be prepared to spend many hours of advance preparation so that you are completely comfortable with the slide deck and the course content. Add your own exercises since the ones on the standard deck may not be ideal. Pay attention to adult learning principles and get the class actively participating as soon as possible in the day. I’ve developed a technique that combines dot voting and introductions that works very well. It also helps me overcome any initial nervousness at the beginning of the day.
What are a few of the benefits of teaching CEM?
I love the sense of being a mentor to the class and guiding the discussions. The experiential approach in the CEM courses allows everyone to learn from one another. I learn as much as the CEM participants. We also connect on a personal level and advance our networks in the industry.
How has the CEM designation helped you in your career?
The CEM designation confers the prestige of being a recognized expert in a specialized body of knowledge. The course content provides solid grounding in a field that is not well taught in local educational institutions that focus more on wedding planning. I obtained my CMP in 2009 to round out my meeting planning credentials.
Are you involved with any other committees or boards with IAEE or another industry association?
After more than 14 years of active volunteer service to CAEM, including representing that association on the Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada, I have reduced my volunteer involvement to participating on a Best Practices Task Force. I would welcome the opportunity to become more involved with IAEE and the CEM commission.
Read Naomi’s full bio here.