The Value of a CSEP Certification
Friday, July 14, 2017
by: By ILEA HQ
Do you know how to spot a true professional in the live events space? Four letters: C-S-E-P. Defined as the Certified Special Events Professional designation, CSEP recognizes event professionals who have successfully demonstrated the knowledge, skills and ability essential to perform all components of a special event. As the special events industry continues to thrive, the level of professionalism required grows. The CSEP designation sets professionals apart from the competition and indicates expertise in the preparation and execution of successful special events.
For Tanya Posavatz, co-owner of CLINK Events, an event production and destination management company based in Austin, Texas, the CSEP designation gives her reassurance that she isn’t a “poser” when it comes to event production.“Our industry is plagued with the image of “party planners” doing something that “anyone can do,” partially because the barriers to entry are so low, and because you don’t need a degree in event production to do event production, the way other professions have degrees - such as accounting, law and medicine,” she says. “For this reason, when I started my company, I felt like a “poser” myself for a while.” That changed in 2005 when she earned her CSEP. “Now I knew I was the real deal, and knew my stuff - the CSEP was a way I differentiated myself from the competition,” she says.
In fact, knowing your “stuff” is what CSEP is all about. The program was developed to increase the proficiency of event professionals, elevate industry standards and practices, establish the level of knowledge and performance necessary for certification, promote the advancement of the special events industry, advance the careers of practitioners, and acknowledge the high caliber work of CSEPs and the value of the products and services they provide. As the only certification within the meetings/incentives/conventions/expositions industry that signifies knowledge in all facets of the special events industry, CSEP conveys credibility and a competitive edge when marketing or soliciting business.“If someone has their CSEP, it proves to us that they take this career seriously and truly have the qualifications we are looking for,” says Posavatz. “It makes the hiring decision easier for us, because it eliminates an unknown.”
Lenny Talarico, CSEP, CHE, the Executive Director of Events with MGM Resorts Event Productions, has held the CSEP designation since 2005. Talarico concurs with the idea that the CSEP designation helps during the recruiting process.“When hiring any professional it is always a wise decision to do your research. Obvious ways include asking about their business practices, possibly obtaining a referral and ultimately finding some measurable benchmark to aid in qualifying that individual,” says Talarico. “The CSEP designation is a qualitative indicator which helps differentiate those candidates in the meetings and special event industry because it is based upon an individual’s practical working knowledge and performance skills, not just factual recall.” While the designation alone isn’t going to get you the job, it is a differentiator and demonstrates to customers a commitment to the highest ethical, operational and knowledge based standards in the industry. “Using the CSEP as part of a company’s overall marketing strategy is a wise decision for any business looking to show a commitment to ongoing education as the meetings and special events industry continues to evolve,” adds Talarico.
The CSEP exam, which is offered four times a year in 15-day windows, is only offered to approved candidates. To qualify, one must have a minimum of three years of full-time professional employment in the special events industry. “It's a tough and comprehensive exam; and I'm okay with that,” says Tracy Moran, CSEP, Senior Vice President with Griffin Communications. “Inexperienced event professionals should not be able to pass and earn this designation until they learn and grow though experience and education.” Moran sat for the CSEP at the Conference for Professional Development (now ILEA Live) in Sydney, Australia in 2002. For Moran, earning CSEP allowed her to be a more confident event professional and help elevate the perception of the profession.
“A CSEP should have a well-rounded, comprehensive understanding of the entire event planning and execution process, no matter what the role is you play. Understanding the full picture allows you to be a better partner with both your clients and your vendors.”
This article was written by ILEA HQ, with contributions from Lenny Talarico, CSEP, CHE, the Executive Director of Events with MGM Resorts Event Productions; Tracy Moran, CSEP, Senior Vice President with Griffin Communications; and Tanya Posavatz, co-owner of CLINK Events.