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Straight from a CSEP: DJ Jeff Hudson, CSEP

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional) designation reflects the caliber and skills of industry experts worldwide. The program was developed to not only elevate industry standards, but also to advance the careers of practitioners in a competitive events landscape.

As part of our Straight from a CSEP series, we started asking current CSEPs about the long-term career benefits of their designations. Today, Jeff Hudson, CSEP,  — ILEA member and one of only two CSEP DJs — shows us the value of the CSEP for events service providers.

Why did you decide to attain your CSEP?

Jeff Hudson, CSEP (JH): I wanted to show event planners and other event professionals that I get what they go through. I see the big picture — that a DJ or A/V person can have valuable input, and an entertainer with a broad view is a benefit to their events. I also wanted to be a voice for the industry. Being a designated professional helps my voice be heard.

How does your CSEP designation help you professionally? Can you provide specific examples?

JH: Having my CSEP has brought me closer to my fellow ILEA members. Many are curious about the certification process and ask questions. This helps me connect when I network and seek job opportunities. With potential clients, I sometimes mention that I am only one of two DJs in the world with their CSEP designation. It gets their attention. If they are a professional with a designation in their field (law, psychology, etc.), it further adds respect and credibility.

How have you worked with other ILEA members and/or CSEPS?

JH: I have worked with CSEPs and ILEA members on our local chapter board, in committees and at events. In particular, I was the VP of Communications for ILEA Austin last year and there were two other CSEPs on the board. I now help our chapter committees that involve other CSEPs. I have also worked as a DJ with planners, caterers, designers and other service providers who have their CSEP. With over 15 CSEPs in the Austin area, there are plenty of opportunities to work together!

What advice would you give to other vendors in the live events industry who may be considering a CSEP designation?

JH: Soak it all up. Attend educational meetings and conferences; read articles on ILEA Experience and event blogs; pay attention to other vendors at events; be interested in your fellow vendors' daily work; and ask questions. To prepare for the CSEP exam, I had to imagine myself in the shoes of planners and other vendors. It was a great exercise in professional empathy that has benefited me more than having the designation itself. Pass or fail, you are a better event professional simply by going through the process. Dare greatly, my friends.

Can you share any entertainment trends that you think will influence live events this year?

JH: I am not sure if this will take effect this year, but I can see entertainment requests taking one of two paths in the near future, perhaps at the same time but for different events. First, I can see some clients wishing to simplify in reaction to an overstimulating technological world and a weakening economy. This would look like a single stage and single point of attention for the audience. Second, I can see some clients wanting to diversify entertainment and give their guests a choose-your-own-adventure type of experience with multiple rooms and different interactions such as a dance floor, karaoke, photo booths, virtual reality, cooking classes, team building, etc. all at the same time in different rooms or stages. This feeds the modern desire for immediate gratification. It will be up to the event professional to help clients decide on the best path for their events.

How do you ensure that the employees and representatives at your company — Spacecraft Entertainment — meet professional events standards?

JH: Any business venture is a risk and, therefore, ensuring is not possible, especially when it comes to your employees’ behavior. The first steps in striving for professional events standards is to create standard operating procedures, be sure your employees read and understand them, and be a model for those standards yourself. If you don’t uphold the standards, then you don’t have the ground to ask your employees to uphold them. Some behaviors cannot be changed in the work environment. Therefore, it is essential to implement questions and tests related to your standards throughout the hiring process. Anyone showing signs of resistance to your ethics or procedures is not the candidate you’re looking for.

What advice would you give to vendors working with events planners and producers?

JH: I would advise to get to know their style and treat them like a client. Every planner and producer has different expectations when it comes to production input, communication and event execution. Understanding their style goes a long way to making your part of the event a success. Some love to hear vendor ideas and communicate often. Others like to keep it simple and minimize interactions. If you’re unsure if something is OK, ask them.

Would you recommend that other entertainment professionals seek a CSEP certification? Why or why not?

JH: It would depend on the individual’s goals. For example, if they are a side person in a band who wants to focus on their craft, then I wouldn’t recommend it. However, if they work at an entertainment agency or interact often with planners and provide creative input for events, I absolutely recommend it. The broader the focus of the entertainment professional, the more likely I would recommend the CSEP designation.

Photo from Spacecraft Entertainment

Jeff Hudson, CSEP, is the owner and DJ at Spacecraft Entertainment. He received a degree in music from DePauw University where he studied classical and jazz. He then performed over 2,000 shows as a bassist on cruise ships and cover bands including The Spazmatics, an ’80s tribute band. His creative and entrepreneurial spirit led him to learning the craft of DJing and forming Spacecraft in 2009. Jeff has since DJ’d over 200 weddings and for corporate clients such as Apple, Facebook, Visa, Soylent and Uber. Spacecraft now has six DJs on staff and provides additional services such as A/V, karaoke and lighting.

Tags: technical production , entertainment , CSEP