After executing a great event, you can find Cynthia MacDonald, CMP, recharging on the beach before setting out to plan her next meeting and event experience. She grew up planning spectacular parties for her family and friends. In her adulthood, she has built an illustrious career as a meeting and event planner.  

She now works as a travel operations manager at Cascadia Motivation, a company that helps organizations develop, create and execute relationship enhancement programs and events for their employees. She lives in Ontario, Canada, close to where she grew up.

To plan a smooth event and keep everyone aligned, she views communication as essential. She uses WhatsApp to connect with her events team whenever needed. And during a busy event, her number one way to refuel is with a protein bar.  

MacDonald enrolled in an event management course in college and graduated with honors before going  on to pursue her CMP. Over the past six years since she earned it, the designation has been incredibly rewarding for her career. She says, “Don’t think twice about whether you should or should not put in the time and effort into getting your CMP. All the effort, all the studying, all the experience is definitely worth it.” 

Why earn your CMP? 

Her CMP designation has helped her to stand out as the best of the best in the event industry. “It makes a huge difference with employers who want to know that you understand the business. It has shown that I know all of what goes into building a successful, well-executed event,” she says.  

“[My CMP designation] gives them confidence and it gives me confidence.” 

MacDonald shared her favorite quote, which couldn’t be more fitting to her gratification around earning the CMP designation. “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” She believes in the importance of investing in ourselves. “The reward for doing so is so much greater than you can imagine.” 

Preparing for the Exam 

When asked about what advice she would share with professionals who are preparing to take the CMP exam, MacDonald says, “Make what you have studied relatable to real life experiences. If you find that there is a domain you don’t have much experience with, then be sure to learn as much as you can about it before taking the exam. 

“Know your stuff and be confident. Stress can block your mind and make you question what you know. Relax, take a deep breath and go for it!” 

She found flash cards to be an invaluable tool, and recommends downloading apps to help you study, so you can prepare anytime, anywhere.  

Looking Forward 

MacDonald recognizes that the CMP designation is growing. “A few years ago, it was still just considered something new and not something that was needed,” she says. “Today, more and more people who have a hand in the events industry are recognizing the need to have a certified level of standardization, skills and knowledge for event management and creation. That recognition continues to raise the bar and hold event planners to a higher industry standard.” 

MacDonald doesn’t have just one event that stands out. “Every event I have created has been memorable, not only for me, but for my attendees. There is no greater thrill than to overhear someone talk about an event they went to and recognize it as one of your own.” 

She sees the events industry continuing to flourish. “New technology, along with new and innovative ideas into both the attendee experience and the behind-the-scenes world of events helps all levels of event planners build and plan more epic events with greater ease and attention to detail.” 

MacDonald went on to earn her CMM and DES in order to further develop her skills after gaining more experience. She is an example of just how far specialized continuing education can take people in their careers. With her passion for building and executing incredible events, and the work she has done to fuel that passion, MacDonald is an industry pioneer every event planner can look up to, and she demonstrates just how valuable the CMP designation is for any planner looking to earn their own. 

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