By Racquel Codling, CMP, CEM
I have over 18 years of experience in meeting and event planning, exhibit management, project management and marketing and I had reached a point in my professional career where I wanted to obtain industry certifications in my areas of expertise. After obtaining my CMP, my next goal was to obtain my Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation. My purpose for pursuing the CEM was to obtain the highest professional standard within the exhibition and event management field, learn core concepts, best practices and current trends from industry experts and gain additional insight regarding the changing climate and the global marketplace.
My objectives for obtaining my CEM was to help me achieve my goal to advance my professional development and career, expand my professional network and help me take the necessary steps to become a thought leader within our industry. I strongly believe in continuing education and professional growth – as meetings and exhibit management professionals, we can’t afford to become complacent and must always teach, learn, collaborate and be prepared to anticipate change within our ever-evolving industry. Most importantly, it’s essential to give back to the meetings and exhibition industry.
In an effort to obtain financial support for my CEM certification journey, I applied for IAEE’s Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund and was fortunate to be one of three recipients that was awarded a 2019 grant. As a part of the grant requirements for the CEM Learning Program, it was expected that I participate in hybrid learning by taking two online courses and two on-location courses. I thoroughly enjoyed attending the on-location courses as I was able to meet and connect with industry colleagues, develop and maintain relationships with the course instructors and participate in interactive learning – all in one day! In contrast, although the online courses were lengthy (approximately 4 weeks per course), the online courses became very timely and convenient as COVID-19 disrupted our lives and changed how we physically interacted and connected with people, and impacted the way we learned and cultivated relationships. Please note: I strongly recommend that IAEE adds a CEM course about virtual exhibit management and how to select the ideal virtual platform to meet your organization and exhibit needs (criteria, platform requirements/checklist, things to consider, vendor selection, engagement tools, best practices and challenges/opportunities in the virtual environment, etc.).
I officially obtained my CEM on June 26, 2020 and oh my, it was such a wonderful feeling and a great personal accomplishment. During my time of participating in the CEM Learning Program, I got a new job as the Director of Events at Business Group on Health in Washington, D.C – I started in February of 2020. As a result, I have obtained two of my CEM objectives: 1) continuous advancement of my professional development and career and 2) expanding my professional network through successful participation in my CEM courses. My third objective is to acquire a level of expertise and knowledge (become a thought leader) so I can in turn, give back to the industry that has given me an outstanding career and the ultimate job satisfaction. Stay tuned!