While growing up in Acapulco, Mexico, Robert Sanchez, CMP, dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot. He imagined himself alongside the heroes of Top Gun, living a fast-paced life, helping people through service and enjoying days on the beach.

He grew up to become one of Events Industry Council’s (EIC) proud Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). But this profession isn’t too far off; he tells Smart Meetings that “the discipline, preparation and vision” present in the fighter pilots of Top Gun are “all essential when leading a team and planning missions – I mean, events!”

Sanchez currently works as the president and CEO of the Colleyville Chamber of Commerce and is the co-founder of S3 Global Events. He attended Texas Tech University to earn a degree in Hospitality in RHIM (Restaurant, Hotel & Institutional Management). In 2006, he earned his CMP certification from EIC.

Sanchez spoke to Smart Meetings about what inspired him to earn his CMP and where the certification has brought him.

Earning His CMP

He began his career in hospitality sales and learned of EIC’s CMP program after joining his local Meeting Professionals International (MPI) chapter, Dallas-Fort Worth. He advises professionals interested in earning a CMP to first volunteer and join professional organizations. This will allow them to network and become a noteworthy candidate for scholarships. It is indispensable to trust the guidance of mentors and professionals who already hold CMPs.

“The CMPs I met were well-respected, had credibility, and belonged to an exclusive group of professionals.” Encouraged by mentors who held CMP certifications themselves, Sanchez aspired to earn his own. “I knew I wanted to gain [this] knowledge and be a trusted resource for my customers.”

As he prepared to earn his CMP, Sanchez found an incredibly supportive community through EIC’s study buddy program. “It was such a great bonding experience,” he says. “I will always cherish the friendships I developed.” He encourages professionals currently pursuing their CMP to participate in this program and to study by taking practice exams, but most importantly, to prepare for the real exam by getting quality rest, taking their time during the exam and trusting that they have come into the exam prepared.

Where The CMP Certification Has Brought Him

Now, over 15 years after earning his CMP, Sanchez has enjoyed a fruitful career. He co-founded S3 Global Incentive Trips & Events, creating and executing successful in-person experiences and meetings. He had the honor of serving as the 2021-2022 chapter president of MPI Dallas-Fort Worth. Just recently, he assumed the position of CEO of Colleyville Chamber. “Obtaining my CMP…has helped me meet professionals from across the globe through conclave, groups and communities. It has also opened doors to fantastic friendships, valuable business partnerships and numerous career opportunities.”

Today, Sanchez says, the CMP certification is expected by many organizations and listed as a requirement in many job descriptions. More professionals than ever seek to attain it. And as times (and demands for meetings) have changed, the CMP certification has evolved.

Sanchez’s first event kept him up at night. “Even though I had the credentials, relationships and numerous hours of preparation, I was still anxious to make sure everything went well,” he remembers. One of his more recent experiences was a board of directors’ retreat in Playa Mujeres, Mexico. “It was a beautiful setting…There were so many complex parts…[but] it was a spectacular success with the contingency plans in place, safety protocols and my professional partnerships.”

Looking Forward

He envisions a bright future for the events industry. “Events are back,” he says, as people seek more in-person events following the COVID-19 pandemic. “Industry associations are growing as people seek education and resources, there’s greater legislative support and student programs are excelling at colleges and universities.” He sees both seasoned and young professionals making great strides in the industry.

So, Robert Sanchez did not grow up to become a fighter pilot along the ranks of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. But his attention to both fine details and the big picture, his drive, and dedication to his team makes him an absolutely standout leader and a CMP to look up to for those driven minds just entering the industry.

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