Earning the CEM designation is a game changer! IAEE interviewed graduate Shelly Urish, CEM of Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Read her journey on earning the CEM designation and why she became CEM game changer!

Hometown: Lawrence, KS

University of Education: The University of Kansas

How has the CEM designation helped in your career? 

The CEM designation has helped myself and my trade show team implement new ideas and learn how small improvements to our event can produce large ROI while providing a better attendee experience. It was important to me to take advantage of this continuing education, which is exactly what we provide and promote to our own association members, to be the best within my role as I can and to provide the most professional support to my company as I can.  Since I believe in promoting professional development and certification is important to my membership, why would I not take advantage of the same thing for my own professional and personal growth.

Education First_Designation Second

Why is it important to maintain the CEM designation?

It is important to me to maintain the CEM designation to ensure that I’m staying up to date with the industry, new ideas, current trends and staying connected to the network of professionals within this exhibition management industry to produce the most relevant and exciting event I can for our membership.

What made you want to obtain your CEM designation?

I am a professional who is not satisfied with a “wash, rinse, repeat” approach to the largest event we produce, on behalf of our membership, each year. I wanted to challenge myself on adjustments that could be made and learn from what other ideas are successfully being implementing. I also think it’s important to share with each other the ideas and concepts that didn’t work so well, so that we can all learn from each other. The exhibition industry is loaded with a lot of talented CEM professionals, and it would be negligent of me to not take advantage of the continuing education and networking opportunities being offered alongside the best of the best of this industry.

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

Network, network, network. I’ve taken CEM classes and sat next to some people that don’t wish to talk and/or engage with others in class, but I’ve met some really great people, which I now call friends, in these classes. And I’ve never taken a CEM class without learning something new from those in the class. Engage, put yourself out there, ask questions, seek answers and don’t be scared to introduce yourself to others.

How did you start your career in this industry?

I had been with my organization for 15 years, in a variety of different roles. We have always produced a trade show and I was a part of the association staff helping at the show (i.e. setting up association booths, working on the registration team, selling booth space, etc.) and had a working knowledge of the event, but had not directly had any previous responsibilities in managing the trade show floor.

The Trade Show Manager of 16 years suddenly left the position and the door opened for me to learn a new role within the association. I accepted the Trade Show Manager role. Within the next month, the other two team members both quit within two weeks of each other for various reasons, and I found myself suddenly on an island, a very scary island I might add. We hired some new teammates, we all immediately joined IAEE, went to the very next Expo! Expo! and two of us began the CEM program all within 4 months of taking the new position.  I had a hefty learning curve taking on the new role and learning all of the responsibilities the job entailed. Needless to say, I networked with as many professionals as I could, took advantage of the community features on the website, educational opportunities at Expo! Expo! and all of the opportunities offered through the IAEE to pull together a very successful event.

As the years have passed, I’ve continued to lean on the IAEE and the network and education it provides. It’s been my safety net, and now after producing the third successful show, I’m thankful that my company has supported this professional development and CEM opportunity.

How have you made a difference with your show or with working with a client by applying the knowledge you gained by obtaining your CEM designation?

Yes. We’ve made a lot of improvements, adjustments and enhancements to the event for both exhibitors and attendees.

What was it that you did or implemented right after obtaining your CEM?

Yes, we created some bundled marketing packages, new exhibitor packages and restructured corner fees. Within the past three years, we’ve moved all of our exhibitors to an online space contract, which has been a win for everyone involved, and have continued to enhance that experience for the exhibitors. These ideas and revisions were implemented during the CEM program.

What did you like most about the CEM Learning Program?

Networking with all of the industry professionals. I learned so much from both the online learning and in-class learning. I was very hesitant to dive into the online learning classes, but really enjoyed them once I jumped into them. I’ve heard others say that they’re intimidated by the online learning classes, and they really shouldn’t be. We’re all busy professionals, instructors included, and there was patience and understanding with every instructor in the classes that I took. It’s also given me a feeling of achievement and confidence in my professional and personal growth.

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

I’ve never met a dance floor I don’t like.  So…I’ll meet you on the dance floor.

game changer

Posted by Shay Sibley

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