Because most Corporate Meeting Pros did not earn their degrees in meeting planning, many reach a point where they want something extra to enhance their knowledge — and their career opportunities. Those who look to certifications or specialized education find a range of options, including in-person and remote learning, theoretical and practical course work, and varying timelines and prices.
“The CMP [Certified Meeting Professional designation from the Convention Industry Council] is the standard,” said Laura Reines, CMP, CTSM, event manager, NCCI Holdings Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., at the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Educational Forum held in June. Reines spoke about the CMP during a panel discussion, which also featured a planner who has earned the Certification for Meeting Management offered by Meeting Professionals International and a full-time planner who is a student in the event management certificate program at The George Washington University.
Candidates for the CMP must have three years' experience and a full-time job in the industry; accrue a minimum number of points based on their responsibilities, education, and professional contributions; and pass a written exam. The CMP has become the key certification for the nuts and bolts of meeting planning.
The CMM, on the other hand, is more theoretical, said panelist Karen Knox, CMP, CMM, manager, meetings management, at Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C., Durham — and you need 10 years' experience to get into the program. It is designed for planners and suppliers who want to be strategic contributors to their organizations. “My focus as a manager had been elevated, and I wanted to become more of a business partner. I have great planners to do the logistics, but I wanted to help my company understand meetings with a strategic marketing focus,” Knox said. The CMM involves a weeklong, on-site program; a two-week take-home exam; and the writing of a business plan.
Panelist Stephanie Olivero is taking a different tack. The MetLife planner, based in Long Island City, N.Y., is pursuing a certificate in event management at GWU as she works full time. The GWU program offers online courses in addition to classes at its Washington, D.C., campus. “I have my degree in international trade and business, but I wanted to show my dedication to the industry, to enroll in a program to get back to basics as well as to become more strategic,” said Olivero. Beyond coursework, the program requires 100 hours of practicum, or voluntary work, as well as creating a portfolio.
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