An Interview on industry certifications and why they add value.

Name: Stephanie Krzywanski, CMM

Title: COO, JR Global Events

How Long Have You Been a Meeting Planner/professional: 15 years

 

What certification(s) have you earned? CMM

 

At what point in your career did you decide to earn a certification?

I have been considering obtaining my CMM since I was eligible after 10 years in the industry. Of course, being a meeting manager who travels often and being self-employed, the timing did not work for me until recently.

 

Why earn more than one certification?

As a person new to the industry, I did not pursue my CMP. A CMP is for those planners with 3 to 9 years of experience. Once, I past the 5 year mark in my career, I started looking forward to the CMM program.

 

What has been the benefit of the certification (s)?

The CMM forced me to step a step back from my business and take a hard look at how we were operating at all levels and how we could improve upon each aspect of operation in our business. In addition, the final project of the certification is writing a business plan. While we had a loose plan in place, it was nothing compared to the final comprehensive business plan that I produced for the CMM.

 

Which certification has been the most useful (and why)?

I have my CMM, but it has been beyond beneficial for me. I would say the most useful portion of obtaining my CMM was writing the business plan. My business partner obtained her CMP in 1998 and has maintained ever since, so it was more important for me to elevate us and take that next step into management.

 

Professionally, are certifications more important when applying for higher positions in another company or for advanced within a present company?

As an employer, when faced with two equally qualified candidates I am going to choose the one that has taking the time and investment in themselves to obtain their certification. As a business owner, having my CMM make our company more attractive to current and potential clients. Our goal is to have an entire team certified in a speciality, CMM, CMP, HMCC. CITS, CIS etc.

 

Have the certifications increased your salary (if yes, can you give an estimated percent)?

Being self-employed it doesn’t directly increase my salary but it does increase the earnings of the company because it helps to attract corporate clients.

 

Why are certifications important for today’s meeting professional?

With the current economic situation, there are still a lot of meeting professionals out there looking for positions. Having a certification will help you get ahead of the competition.

For suppliers specifically, I appreciate it when they’ve taken the to get their CMP or CMM because it shows me that they’ve made an investment in learning what a meeting planner deals with on a day-to-day basis.

 

What skills do certifications enhance?

Hands down my CMM certification enhanced my knowledge of strategic meetings management and allowed me to put steps in place to elevate our internal systems.

 

What has been the feedback from your employer (s) about your certification?

“We” think its great.

 

How often do you take continuing education type seminars or course work on planning issues or related topics?

I try to attend many of the Philadelphia Area Chapter of Meeting Professionals International throughout the year. That is about 6 programs. In addition, I attend at least two industry tradeshows/hosted buyer programs per year.

 

How have they helped your career and how you do your job?

Certainly keeping current on hot topics and trends in the industry is an important part of attending education seminars and conferences. The other reason for attending is to network with my peers and also my suppliers. The relationships I’ve gained at these programs have been invaluable to my career.

 

Have you take additional educational coursework, how often and of what sort?

In the late 90’s I took the meeting planning certificate course at Temple University in Fort

Washington, PA. It was a great course for people new to the industry or considering a career change. Years later I became an instructor in the program.

 

Are there areas emerging in the profession that you wish there was more education available (if so what areas)?

I absolutely wish I knew more about virtual and hybrid meetings. The technologies out there are mind- blowing. And, one can never know enough about contract negotiations.

 

What areas have certifications (or additional education) been most beneficial?

Hands down – Improved ROI & Strategic Meetings Management

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