Time to Get CMP Certified!

TWG Staff Editorial by Phil Hargis, CGMP

I have been with The Webster Group for over six years. Throughout my time here, TWG leadership has always put an emphasis on industry networking, training, and certifications. As a busy event company, finding time to participate in these activities does not always come easy. Finding the right balance between client work and personal schedules requires diligence and unwavering dedication.

At TWG, one of my roles is to manage government clients and events. So, for me to have industry certifications is extra important. When I first started at The Webster Group, I immediately earned my Certified Government Meeting Planner (CGMP) certification. That was great and helped me validate the work I was doing here. However, as we all know, time flies at the speed of light in our industry, and my certification lapsed after three years. Last summer, I went through the CGMP training again in Washington, DC and once again recertified. That positive reengagement motivated me to take my professional growth and development even further.

After a busy fall events season and a relaxing holiday season, I started the year off going all-in on professional growth. I signed up for a Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) event in Crystal City. I attended a Meeting Professionals International (MPI) membership networking event at Spin DC. The event was so great, I joined MPI the next day! I then signed up for the MPI MACE conference. MACE is an awesome networking event organized by the local MPI Potomac Chapter. It includes three keynote speakers, several hours of educational breakout activities, and a well-organized networking exhibition to connect planners with suppliers, sort of like a DC-area IMEX. And finally, I made the commitment to myself and to TWG to get my Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certification. The CMP designation is given by the Events Industry Council (https://www.eventscouncil.org/CMP/About-CMP). It is the gold standard for professional meeting planners and the highest regarded certification in our industry. I was stoked to get started.

The certification exams are only offered during four months a year: January, May, August, and November. You need to have the experience and education required before you can apply to take the CMP, and the application review process takes two to four weeks. Essentially, this meant that from February 10 to April 1, I wanted to have everything completed for my application. Six weeks!

I didn’t waste any time mapping out my path to be certified in May 2020. For me to get certified, I needed 3+ years of event planning experience; check. Next is 25 hours of event planning related educational content. There are two main ways to meet your 25-credit hour requirement. One is by taking in-person classes on one of the nine domains (topics) set forth by the Events Industry Council International Standards. The other way, and much easier way, is to take online webinars that fall into one of the nine domains. This was going to be the best way to do it. So, from February 15 to March 24, just over five weeks, I was able to take webinars on coronavirus, sustainability, virtual events, international events, and AV, and my attendance at the all-day MACE conference provided a whopping eight hours of credits.

In order to solidify my industry knowledge, experience, and education, I signed up for a 12-week CMP preparation course to make sure that I was fully prepared for the exam. Our CEO, Wendy Drake, also signed up to get certified and take the course, so we have enjoyed the weekly class together, challenging each other with various questions and topics related to the exam. If you can encourage a colleague or peers to participate with you, it makes it that much more enjoyable – and effective.

As a final preparation tool, I downloaded an app called Pocket Prep, which gives you access to 600 questions that you would expect to see on the CMP exam. Whenever I have free time, I take a quick 10 question quiz and answer the question of the day. That shows me where I stand relative to the overall exam content and highlights areas that I am stronger and weaker in so I can focus my study efforts in those topics.

On Tuesday, March 24, just 38 days after really starting the whole process, I took my last hour to complete the 25-hour education requirement. I couldn’t wait to submit my online CMP application and did so a few hours later. I received the exciting news from the Events Industry Council that my application had been approved, and I could now schedule a date in May to take my CMP exam! I was so super excited. I have not signed up yet, but there is a testing facility right down the street from my house. They are currently closed due to COVID-19, but I hope to still be able to take the exam at the end of May.

Thanks for reading along at my fast-moving journey to earn my CMP. It has really helped me grow as an event professional, and I look forward to the day I can proudly put those three letters, CMP, next to my name. So, look for them there at the end of May. If there is anything that I or The Webster Group can do for you to start planning an event, please send me an email at phil@webstergroupinc.com, and I would love to talk to you about anything!

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