Susan Arts, CMP Fellow, shared her favorite quote: “Begin and end each day with a grateful heart.”

“If I start with gratitude, it makes it easy to continue being thankful throughout the day,” she says. And of course, her career is one of many things to be thankful for—and proud of. When she was eight years old, she told her parents she dreamed of growing up to be a big-rig truck driver. “We traveled every summer to different parts of the U.S., and I thought that would be a perfect job—I could travel around and see beautiful places.”

By the time she graduated college, she still had that travel bug. “I knew I wanted a job that allowed me to travel, and I fell into meeting planning completely by accident. So, my dream really did come true!”

In addition to being a CMP Fellow, Arts also holds an HMCC. She is president and founder of Arts of Meeting LLC.

Discovering the CMP

When she first heard of the CMP, Arts says, there was no looking back. “I was encouraged to pursue my CMP as soon as I was qualified for it.”

The CMP designation is distinct for many reasons, one of which is that with its emergence nearly 40 years ago it provided an opportunity for, as Arts puts it, “meeting planners to get a seat at the table.”

She says, “There were no post-secondary schools with meeting and event planning/management offered; many of us fell into the career without knowing anything about it.” But those planners who fell into the industry, and fell in love with it, needed something to demonstrate their commitment and the importance of their role.

“Having the CMP designation and applying everything I learned in the process has had such a positive and profound impact in my career. I’ve been so many different types of planners (third-party, corporate, association, independent) and that would not have happened without that foundation.”

Earning the CMP

First and foremost, Arts saw the CMP as an emblem of lifelong learning. It is a badge of honor, many CMPs say, but in particular, it is a badge of honor that signals a lasting commitment to learning and growth.

“Education is a continuous process. I have learned so much from every job and position I’ve held and have had many amazing mentors along the way…The learning never stops,” she says.

Another distinctive aspect of the CMP is its nature as an industry designation. Throughout her process of studying for the exam, Arts found, “This is like college—you are learning theory, not necessarily practice. When you are confronted with ‘real life’ problems and challenges [after earning the CMP] your brain is flexible enough to come up with diverse ways to solve them.”

Once a professional has passed the exam and proven their comprehensive understanding of the theory it involves, they are then able to apply that knowledge and depth of understanding to their career to be a more than robust planner. “The CMP and CMP Fellow help to signify to organizations and clients that this is a profession, and we bring more than logistics to the table,” Arts says. “When I’m collaborating with stakeholders, I always start off with CMP 101: What are the goals and objectives of the event?”

From there, she creates moments—whatever they may be—that achieve those goals and objectives, based on a nuanced understanding of meetings and events, how they function and how people function within them, in the many forms meetings and events take.

Going Further

“The CMP was the most comprehensive course, and the designation carries a lot of weight in the industry,” Arts says.

The CMP Fellow is a step beyond. It sets apart not only dedicated industry professionals, but that class of CMPs who have gone to great lengths to demonstrate their immense capability and deep commitment to the industry.

“When I first learned of the CMP Fellow designation, it was the perfect fit for where I was in my career,” she says. She has now been a CMP Fellow for two years, as a member of its inaugural class. “It offered a different path and signified that I had tenure and experience in the industry.”

If you’re qualified, she says, pursue it. “What do you have to lose?”

Looking Forward

There’s no doubt that the meetings and events industry is powerful. Against innumerable challenges in recent years, it has emerged even stronger and more resilient. “Coming through the fire of Covid, being in the meetings and events industry is more inspiring than ever,” Arts says.

“For many years, the industry was concerned about how technology would lead to fewer in-person events. Covid showed that in-person matters. I love seeing passion and drive and can’t wait to see what comes next.”

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