Aaron Wolowiec likes to live his life by the phrase, “No day but today.” In the Broadway musical “Rent” the phrase is repeated again and again to emphasize that we have no idea if we will see tomorrow—so take advantage of the opportunities that are available right here, right now.

“Especially when it comes to events, there are a million reasons why we could put off the implementation of a new process or technology, or the rollout of a new attendee experience…but who’s to say the next event will be any easier?” Wolowiec says. “Or maybe it’s a year away, and who wants to wait a whole year to implement something potentially impactful? Or maybe we’ll have moved on to a new organization/event by then and miss our chance altogether.

“Whenever possible, I advocate for moving forward today rather than waiting for another opportunity that may never come. This also creates a great learning experience that we can potentially build upon the next time to make our events even better.”

Becoming a CMP

Wolowiec, founder and president of consulting firm Event Garde, earned his CMP in 2009. At that time, he was looking to advance his career, and when one of his colleagues was working on earning her CMP designation, he began studying and eventually sat for the exam.

“I crave knowledge. Every chance I get, I sign up for new learning opportunities,” he says. Throughout his career, he has earned numerous credentials. In addition to being a CMP and a CMP Fellow, he is also a Certified Association Executive, Certified Learning Environment Architect, Certified Diversity Professional and Diversity Executive Leadership Program Scholar, among many other certifications.

Years after earning his CMP, Wolowiec worked with colleagues to develop an in-person and virtual study course designed to better engage participants and help them spread their studying over a number of months.

When it comes to studying for the exam, he says, “Definitely read the materials, create your own flashcards, participate in a study course,” he says. And importantly, he adds “Identify a mentor—particularly someone with experience that’s different from yours.”

When he was studying for the exam, he found that, as a professional working for a state trade association, he had no experience working with convention centers. For him, he says, “Taking the opportunity to not only visit a convention center, but talk with staff and planners who were knowledgeable and experienced in how convention centers differ from, say, a hotel, was invaluable.”

Becoming a CMP Fellow

The CMP Fellow designation identifies CMPs who have gone above and beyond with their CMP credential. “Given my history and experience with the events industry, I thought becoming a CMP Fellow would be a nice way to signal to myself, my colleagues, my clients, and the greater industry my accomplishments and contributions while creating new opportunities to give back to the community coming up in the profession.”

If you believe that you fit the qualifications to become a CMP Fellow, Wolowiec says, pursue it! He again emphasizes the importance of establishing mentorship relationships. “Reach out to a couple of CMP Fellows to learn more about their experience and establish a mentoring relationship with someone who can help advance your career,” he says.

Looking Forward

Wolowiec is incredibly committed to furthering education for planners. He is involved in ongoing work to train CMP candidates. As he looks toward the future of the credential, he says, “From more definition-based questions to more scenario-based questions requiring not just a basic understanding of key terms, but a real knowledge and confidence applying key concepts to different scenarios, means we’re not only training meeting professionals better but the measuring stick we’re evaluating them against has become more stringent and meaningful.”

As for the CMP Fellow designation, Wolowiec says, “Becoming a CMP Fellow has signaled a new level of experience, professionalism, and achievement that I bring to both the industry and the clients with which I work.

“Moreover, having both the CMP and CMP Fellow designations behind my name lend instant recognition and credibility that I take my work seriously, that I’ve put in the time and know a great deal about my craft, and have earned the industry’s leading recognition for meeting professionals.”

He still refers back to his training and texts every so often to stay up to date with industry knowledge, best practices and current trends. “Studying the CMP International Standards and associated body of knowledge has certainly helped me to become a stronger and more intentional planner,” Wolowiec says.

Read More: Get to Know Barbara Connell, CMP Fellow