As told to Christine Otsuka
It’s been suggested that designations such as CMP, CMM, etc., have little real-world value. What’s your opinion?
Bonnie Boyd, CMP, DMCP
President & CEO
BBC Destination Management
Absolutely they do, on several levels! First, a CMP, CMM, CITE, CEM or DMCP is evidence of expertise earned by study (extensive testing and in the case of the CITE designation, original research) and experience. Earning designations are not for the faint of heart!
Second, earning designation status is challenging and exciting and admits the designee to a special “club” recognized throughout our industry. The individual earning the designation shows commitment, passion, respect and professionalism in earning the designation, to his employer, to his clients and to the industry.
Third, and from the corporate viewpoint, the designation supports the company’s commitment to provide best practices to every client. Companies who count many CMPs or DMCPs show the industry that they foster professional education, high standards and professional conduct.
Finally, designations can demonstrate a company’s belief in their employees and can be part of an ongoing motivational tool for employee success.
As the strength of the meetings industry and its far-reaching economic effect becomes more fully recognized, the designation will mean even more.
Joy Leonte, CMP
Exhibition Place, Direct Energy Centre, Allstream Centre
Speaking as a professional who has a CMP and [is] currently pursuing a CMM, I think that designations demonstrate one’s commitment to the industry. Through these programs, I am able to consolidate and expand my knowledge, which helps me gain an in-depth understanding of my profession.
The “real world” outside of our industry may not know the significance of it, but I’m confident our industry peers realize how much investment and hard work went into earning those letters on our business cards.
As a supplier, these letters have [inspired] confidence in my clients and have earned the respect of my industry colleagues, all without having to wave my resume around. It helps open doors, has assisted in negotiations and creates a positive perception.
My designation has proven my willingness to learn and adapt to trends, affirms my passion for my career and has elevated my credibility among my peers. It is the perfect marriage of theory and experience, all summed up into three little letters.
What value does it have? Given the years of experience, training, volunteering hours, and leadership skills that the designation requires—the value is priceless.
Natalie Lowe, CMM
Celebrate Niagara DMC
In any profession, pursuit of additional education and designations shows a commitment to your industry—both my optician and my mechanic proudly display certificates on their walls.
If, in our industry, we call ourselves meeting professionals, our level of responsibility to our clients must exceed knowing what wine glass to use—we need to be their partner in achieving their fiscal and marketing goals for the event in a responsible, professional manner. In order to do that, we have to constantly increase our knowledge base and stay current with business and industry trends and we show proof of that commitment through our designations.
As for real-world value, I have closed sales because clients felt comfortable that I was a professional to be entrusted with their events based on having the CMM designation. Directly after my designation, I was approached by numerous colleagues in the industry interested in pursuing their own designations and from that, friendships developed as we discovered our shared commitment to our chosen profession. Also, those relationships bring referrals and business, as well as an opportunity to continue our education amongst peers.
Associate Director, Meetings & Events, Brand Marketing
Royal Bank of Canada
Designations are an accomplishment that can have real-world value and should make those that have achieved them proud. I think that whether the accomplishment is celebrated depends on the sector, namely association or corporate. Speaking from the corporate perspective, meeting designations are not widely known and, therefore, may not be seen as having real-world value. However, based on past M+IT salary surveys, it shows that those with designations are rewarded and can clearly have real-world value.
As a people manager, when looking for new hires, I expect that a senior planner should have a designation and, if not, they should have equivalent experience. Designations can elevate a candidate for consideration because of the dedication it takes to achieve it. It shows commitment to the trade and to personal growth.
The role of meeting planner is one that people either love or hate. When a person loves it, you can see their passion and drive to improve themselves. Designations are a way of challenging them to new levels.
I would argue that not only do designations have real-world value, but they also have real-life promise.
Christine Gruber, CMP
Event Coordinator, Conferences & Meetings
Ontario Real Estate Association
Since receiving my CMP designation two years ago, my professional career has changed.
My employer is an advocate of professional education; they paid for my education and certification. Those who achieve their designation are celebrated and this puts them in line for promotions and affords them special concessions, such as conference attendance.
Designations are one of the top qualifications employers are looking for when hiring a meeting professional. I have found that certain venue suppliers treat me differently once they know I have a designation. For example, they are able to use industry “short-hand” when we communicate.
I’ve also found other meeting professionals look for advice from those with designations. While I was at MPI WEC, in St. Louis, this year, I was approached by a planner who asked me about my designation when she noticed my CMP ribbon. I have even approached those who have their CMM to ask them about their experiences and what it taught them, as I prepare to get that designation also.
In the end, having a designation will help a meeting professional be recognized.
CSEM, CSEP, CMP
President & Chief
Eclectic Events International Inc.
The subject of industry designations is a real hot-button issue with me. As a professor in the Event & Meeting Management Program, at George Brown College, it was of great importance to me to demonstrate to my students and peers that I was certifiably knowledgeable by earning these designations.
Designations were developed to globally raise the bar in terms of knowledge, skill, performance, professionalism, ethics and accountability, the idea being that those initials would be globally recognizable to create international credibility for the individual possessing the designations.
In a market where clients are interested in shopping for the lowest bidder and not the best candidate to partner with, the clients are not taking designations into consideration when selecting an event or meeting partner.
Why is the corporate market, when their reputation is at stake, trusting events and conferences to novices?
In my opinion, formal education and obtaining designations should be mandatory and should absolutely pose as the barrier to entry into the profession of event and meeting management.
THE FINAL VERDICT
There’s no arguing that a designation says to the world that you are serious, dedicated and passionate about your industry. Most understand that there’s extensive training and, in the case of the CITE designation, original research involved. In addition, earning those three or four letters may even give you a leg-up in the job market. It instills confidence in your employer and can help you win business and foster relationships. But experience, active industry involvement or association membership can, in some cases, provide similar results. A designation is not an automatic in, but it doesn’t hurt, either. It goes a long way toward showing the outside world that this is a profession and not a job. And in an industry built on relationships and, to some extent, trust, it makes good business sense.