Cindy Sharkey, Administrative Execution Director for Freeman, is a 20+-year veteran of the exhibitions and events industry. A former Freeman customer, she honed her show organizer skills with Event Management International and with major hotel chains such as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Hilton Worldwide. Joining Freeman in 1997, Cindy has dedicated herself to becoming a skilled resource who can effectively match clients’ needs with Freeman’s extensive services and solutions.
In today’s competitive market, Cindy knows the importance of effectively communicating how Freeman’s distinctive customer service culture and innovative solutions can transform clients’ events. She achieves this by creating educational webinars, serving as a subject-matter expert on a wide variety of Freeman initiatives, and developing and implementing sales programs. Her unique perspective on the industry – and of Freeman – allows her to be a trusted and valuable resource to both the Freeman sales organization and the clients it serves.
From show open to close, Cindy’s front-line experience lets her cultivate valuable client relationships, ensure clients meet their show goals and objectives, and educate internal and external customers on Freeman’s wide array of innovative solutions. Cindy’s accomplishments within Freeman include being designated as a certified freight specialist, an iLead graduate, a Star of Excellence recipient and multi-year nominee, a fwd chapter leader, and fwd mentor.
Cindy recently completed the CEM Learning Program and shares how she has benefited from her IAEE Certification Journey.
How has the CEM designation helped in your career?
I’ve just received my CEM designation, but I hope my colleagues and customers will continue to rely on me as a trusted, committed and knowledgeable resource no matter what the objective may be.
Why is it important to maintain the CEM designation?
The collaboration and connection with industry experts was definitely a highlight for me. In addition, our industry is constantly evolving and changing. Going through CEM helped to stay connected to both industry standards, current trends and challenges we face every day.
What made you want to obtain your CEM designation?
I have always been goal oriented, both personally and professionally. I like to know I’m working towards something! Even though I have been in the industry for several years and have served in many different roles, I continue to learn something new every day. The CEM program helped me to identify the areas of where I can add the most value to my organization, additional areas of interest and topics that may need more exploration.
What advice would you give to an aspiring individual who wants to apply for the CEM program?
Just go for it! Spread out classes over a couple years instead of just plowing through the content.
How did you start your career in this industry?
I worked for a show management company at the Boston World Trade Center over 25 years ago. I remember walking the show floor and seeing a HUGE line of exhibitors at the service desk at one of our events. I thought to myself, gosh that is a horrific sight! Looking back that may explain why I have spent over two decades committed to company initiatives that help to better enhance the experience of our colleagues and customers.
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’m in constant communication with our leadership about CEM opportunities and encouraging those interested to talk to their supervisors about making CEM part of their developmental goals for the year.
What did you do or implement right after obtaining your CEM?
I created materials for onboarding new hires, making sure they have easy access to all the resources available for their long-term success.
What did you like most about the CEM Learning Program?
Hearing the real-life stories and relating to those that understand our industry.
What is a fun fact about you?
Let’s see… I do enjoy all things nature and spending as much time with my teenage boys as possible before they fly the nest!