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How I Became a CEM Gamechanger: Keli Bell-Cole, CEM

Congratulations to Keli Bell-Cole, CEM from AFCI on becoming a game changer! Read about how the importance of learning impacted her decision to start the CEM journey.

The Certified in Exhibition Management™ (CEM) designation is a globally recognized designation that demonstrates the highest professional standard throughout the exhibition and event management arena. Earning the CEM designation takes dedication and proves you are a gamechanger in the industry.

Keli Bell-Cole Headshot2018 CEM Commission Chairperson, Cookie Walner, CMP, CMM, CAE, CEM interviewed recent CEM graduate, Keli Bell-Cole, CEM on her journey on becoming a CEM gamechanger.

Keli is the Director of Events for the Association for Creative Industries (AFCI) in Elmwood Park, NJ. She joined IAEE in 2013, started the CEM program on June 2017 and earned her CEM on May 2018. Keli took a majority of her classes online, but also took on-site courses in Washington, D.C. and CEM Week Baltimore.

What made you decide to get your CEM at this time in your career path?

I began working in with the tradeshow team about a year and a half ago. Learning is important to me and if I was going to be a part of the tradeshow team, I wanted to dedicate myself to learning more about this aspect of show management. What I have learned in these modules has put so much of my day-to-day responsibilities into perspective.

You took both online/on-site CEM courses. Is there a format you liked better?

I definitely prefer learning on-site more. I wish I had taken more courses using this format as it allows for a better flow of conversations with colleagues in the industry. Whether continuing conversations on breaks or overhearing other conversations, I learned a lot from my peers. In addition, when I’m onsite at a training I’m fully committed to learning and try to not to get caught up in what is happening back at the office, unless I’m on a break.

What did you like about online courses and what did you like about the on-site courses?

Although the extrovert in me loves the on-site classes, nothing beats the convenience of being able to work on the courses when it’s most convenient for your schedule.

The next CEM Week is taking place in Chicago on 6-10 August!

As a Director at Association for Creative Industries (AFCI), how has the CEM helped you in your career?

So far, the biggest benefit has been the conversation that it has sparked with my manager and our Official Service Contractor (OSC). Throughout the courses, I’ve asked their opinions and discussed why we do certain things or don’t do some things that were in the course materials. The dialogue that it has sparked is priceless.

2_CEM_GameChanger_PrintAdWhat would you like to accomplish with your CEM?

I would like to use what I learned to strengthen the shows that we manage. Having the tools to do this will translate into better experiences for our attendees and exhibitors.

How do you plan to recertify your CEM?

I hope to take more in-person training to get points toward recertification. I plan on attending Expo! Expo! this year and am looking forward to attending sessions.

What is one thing you learned about the CEM program that you wished you learned sooner?

I wish I realized how awesome the networking opportunities would be during trainings. It was a great environment to bounce ideas off of other show organizers.

To start your journey in becoming a CEM gamechanger, visit the CEM Learning Program.

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