Congratulations to recent CEM gamechanger Leslie LeGrande, CEM of Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society! Read why Leslie became a trusted advisor to her exhibitors and sponsorship clients after obtaining her CEM designation.
Hometown: Bowie, Maryland
University of Education: Norfolk State University (BS in Marketing); Bowie State University (MA in Organizational Management)
How has the CEM designation helped in your career?
I just received my CEM, but I feel it will help me to understand the conference and trade show industry much better. More recently, I was promoted to the Senior Sales Manager status one class shy of obtaining my CEM. By doing so, it afforded me a “seat at the table” to lend my voice and expertise to conference planning strategies as it relates to exhibits and sponsorship for my association. I became more of a trusted advisor.
Why is it important to maintain the CEM designation?
This allows you to stay up-to-date with the industry trends, as well as network with other CEM professionals in the industry that can provide more insights, share expertise and applicable advice. The learning should always be a constant.
What made you want to obtain your CEM designation?
It was important for me to operate at an optimal level in my current role. The CEM path and designation afforded me that opportunity. Every course I took and information I learned was applied in real time as I planned and managed my association’s exhibits and created sponsorship opportunities for our annual conferences.
It was important for me to be a leader and expert in my field and job role. I wanted more responsibility and accountability; hence me seeking the CEM designation.
What advice would you give to an aspiring individual who wants to apply for the CEM program?
The CEM program has been phenomenal with helping me to better understand the industry as a whole. I would advise an aspiring individual to continuously invest in yourself and expand your learning of the industry; whether it is taking a class, attending IAEE networking events or consulting with others that have their CEM designation. It will positively change your professional life. I wish I had done it sooner.
How did you start your career in this industry?
I had been in media sales for 20 years. However, about 10 years ago I entered the association management space and serviced a client that needed a sales representative to coordinate their exhibits and sponsorship sales. From that moment, I realized this is what I was called to do. I have been working steadily in the exhibition industry every since and have loved every minute of it.
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?
I have become more of a trusted advisor to our exhibitors and sponsorship clients in helping them to navigate our conferences; whether it has been from understanding exhibition rules, developing sponsorship opportunities that align with their business goals or assist our internal planning team with more input to help develop and grow our conference. All of the tools and knowledge I have obtained are current and have been applicable every step of the way.
What was it that you did or implemented right after obtaining your CEM?
I immediately implemented the CEM designation to my LinkedIn account and office business signature salutation after receiving my designation letter.
What did you like most about the CEM Learning Program?
I enjoyed the classroom instruction as well as virtual learning because it connected me with a wealth of talented professionals that I learned from by exchanging expertise and experiences. All of the program course instructors are awesome and a good compliment to the CEM program.
Fun fact about you – What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I love to sew and I watch classic movies from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Humphrey Bogart, Lana Turner, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are some of my all time favorite actors.