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How I Will Become a CEM Gamechanger: Rich Askintowicz

Read about Rich's journey on earning the CEM designation and how he will become a game changer.

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.

2018 CEM Commission Chairperson, Cookie Walner, CMP, CMM, CAE, CEM interviewed CEM candidate, Rich Askintowicz on his journey on becoming a CEM gamechanger.

Rich is the Senior Operations Manager for Reed Exhibitions. He joined IAEE in 2012, started the CEM program on June 2016 and will earn his CEM on August 2018. Rich took a majority of his classes on-sine, but also took an online course.

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

I have always wanted to take the CEM courses and always thought that I would never have the time to complete this. My company, Reed Exhibitions and my Senior VP of Operations, Mike Grant and Operations VP,  Christine Flanagan, know the value of having this designation. I was called into their office one day and they offered this opportunity. I was extremely honored and just went for it. I did not realize that I could complete this over the course of 3 years and will complete this over the course of two years.


You have taken on-site courses at several different locations over the past couple of years (CEM Week 2016, NY IAEE Chapter, Expo! Expo! San Antonio and in DC in February.) What did you like about these courses?

Being in Operations, we touch so many different facets of producing an event both internally within our organization and externally with venue/vendor partners. These courses mirror my everyday job functions in regards to overall execution of an event and are relevant to my success. What I love about the onsite courses is the interaction and meeting other individuals within the industry. Not only have I learned a lot but made great and relevant industry contacts. We preach that nothing beats meeting face-to-face. This not only applies to events but education components, such as the CEM courses.

Most recently, you took an online course.  What did you like about this course?

This was my first ever online course and similar to on-site sessions, the interaction was as if I was sitting in the room with those taking the course. You really had to think when contributing to the discussion board and was happy that I was able to take real-life experiences and tie them to the lesson in written form. It personally validated to me that I am on the right track in general of what I do for a living, but I also had a lot of take-aways from others that I will utilize going forward.

As a Senior Operations Manager at Reed Exhibitions, how do you think the CEM will help in your career?

As I mentioned earlier, these courses mirror my everyday job functions in regards to overall execution of an event and are relevant to my success. Now I see that I only really had a surface knowledge when it came to internally working with the likes of Marketing, Registration, Housing, Programming, etc. and I feel that I can better speak “their language” when communicating, similar with outside vendors (A/V) and venue partners.

Also, a CEM designation shows that one is dedicated to the industry and can only be a confidence booster to whatever partners that I work with.

When do you expect to complete your CEM?

I expect to complete my CEM at CEM Week in Chicago this August.

The last CEM Week of 2018 will take place in Chiacgo from 6 – 10 August.

What advice do you have for someone just starting the program or thinking about starting the program?

Not only did I did not think that I had the time to do this but was also nervous about not taking courses like this since college. I was completely wrong.

This overall course is valuable in so many aspects that the list could go on and on. My goal, even though we need 9 courses to earn this honor, is to take all 12. I love learning and the material is extremely relevant to what we do and is up-to-date. I was shocked to see the incorporation of the digital aspect that is becoming a relevant sector within our industry.

The course instructors all are now additional mentors to me which cannot put a price tag on.

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

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