Earning the CEM designation is a game changer! IAEE interviewed graduate Cookie Walner, CMP, CMM, CAE, CEM, Director of Events for American Hardware Manufacturers Association. Read her journey on earning the CEM designation and why she became CEM game changer!

How has the CEM designation helped in your career?

Following the completion of the CEM, I was promoted. My organization and CEO were really impressed.  They know what it takes to achieve the designation.  The CEM designation has given me confidence. I know the best practices in the industry and can apply the concepts to my show.

Why is it important to maintain the CEM designation?

So much time and commitment went into the initial CEM certification process. Focusing on maintaining the CEM motivates me to continue learning, and going to Expo! Expo! is a huge benefit. And I enjoy the webinars offered by IAEE.  The recertifying hours are readily available.

What made you want to obtain your CEM designation? 

My job was meeting focused. The organization’s international tradeshow was added to my responsibilities. I wanted to understand the “What” and “Why” and drill deeper into understanding the show design and operations. Okay, I was lost and had no idea what I didn’t know. I reached out to IAEE. Initially, I focused on the courses that targeted my specific needs and realized I could learn more and achieve my CEM Designation.

What advice would you give an aspiring individual who wants to apply for the CEM program?

You will learn more about the industry than you can imagine.  The program will open your mind to possibilities for your show and your career.  And you will be more marketable. You will learn about yourself and your passion for the industry. You will meet amazing people in your journey who will be your lifetime resources and friends.

How did you start your career in this industry?

My career started in special events and catering, then to meetings.  I never imagined where this would take me.  I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy the show organizing. If I could go back and talk to my younger self I would highlight the importance of saying “yes” to any and all growth and learning opportunities.

Why did you decide to become a CEM faculty member?

I wanted to give back to the industry and help others the way I was helped and supported.  And I learn from all the CEM candidates in my courses as well. I am so proud of the candidates in my online and in-person courses.  I am the one clapping the loudest at Expo! Expo! when the new CEM’s walk across the stage.

What did you like most about the CEM Learning Program?

I liked the flexibility.  I could take the courses in person and/or online.  I really enjoyed the workbooks and knowing that my peers were involved in the content.  I knew that information was relevant to the current state of the industry.  I enjoyed adding new words to my vocabulary and understanding what people were referencing when talking about aspects of shows.

Fun fact about you – What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I am a state champion baton twirler.

Posted by Shay Sibley

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