Justin Swartling, CEM was born and raised in the small river town of Winona, MN. He got his foot in the door in the exhibitions and events industry early in life when being required to either perform or help in some way with the school musical. Not wanting to perform, Justin was the “sound guy” and his career blossomed from there.
Starting in production, Justin slowly realized that the events industry was his passion and he pursued a degree in event management. During school, he landed his first full-time event gig as the Event Coordinator for Fastenal, working with the company’s NASCAR sponsorship. A few years later, Justin took a job as the Event Coordinator for the City of Onalaska, WI at the Omni Center, a multi-purpose event center. Through some reorganizations and promotions, he is now the General Manager and oversees the entire facility including sales and marketing, operations, event planning, as well as food and beverage.
Justin completed the CEM Learning Program in 2022, and looks forward to continuing his education and earning his CMP in the near future. Here, he shares how he has benefited from his IAEE Certification Journey.
How has the CEM designation helped in your career?
The CEM designation has helped me in my career by giving me access to 3000+ CEM members to network and share ideas with. The IAEE community is very strong and everyone is willing to help other out in any way possible.
Why is it important to maintain the CEM designation?
Maintaining the CEM designation is important to help stay current with the time. The world is ever-changing, and our industry seems to change even faster. Staying up on the knowledge is crucial to your success.
What made you want to obtain your CEM designation?
I am always wanting to learn more about the industry and really wanted to take a deep dive into the mechanics of exhibitions. I also wanted to do this in a way that allowed me to put the knowledge to use right away, and the CEM program does just that. The letters after your name are also pretty neat!
What advice would you give to an aspiring individual who wants to apply for the CEM program?
If you have ever thought of doing the CEM program, just do it! It will be one of the best designation programs you have been through. See if you can get your employer on board and show them what kind of value the program can bring to your organization. If you have not thought about it, I would highly suggest doing some research.
What did you like most about the CEM Learning Program?
The community that surrounds the program and the relationships that you build are the greatest part of the program. To have a community of like-minded individuals not only throughout the country, but the entire world is a huge value.