Exhibition World Issue 2 — 2019 - Page 33

Education Never ending learning story Aparna Bhargava, Regional Head, Messe Muenchen India Pvt. Ltd, describes her experience of going through a CEM course hen we think we know it all is when the learning stops. I was nominated for the CEM (Certified in Exhibition Management) training and my friend asked whether I was going to attend or teach. It’s never too late to learn and the training turned out to be a rigorous eight days of reading books, discussions, presentations and online exams. The flow was organised in a way that you can get fully absorbed in the subject, whether your passion be logistics, marketing services, stand construction, venue management or exhibition organising. The mix of 20 students was varied, with an age group from 25 to 65 and ‘students’ came from all over the country. There were sales executives and business owners and we heard from a variety of people and their ideas and experiences. There was a certain ‘back to school’ feeling, from having to be on time or be reprimanded, to studying every day for exams. In my country, there is not a very structured approach to events education; we do have hotel management, where banquets are briefly touched upon and travel tourism courses where MICE is a small part. Any serious in-depth understanding of exhibitions and education in the sector is mostly hands on, you have to learn on-the- job. More mature markets help us understand standard operating procedures and executions and w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk “CEM is a great opportunity to receive a structured understanding of the industry, encapsulated in less than 10 days, and a great way to incorporate standards and expectations across the globe.” we try and do our best in terms of adopting international standards to our local conditions and we usually make it work wonderfully; after all, Indians are fast learners. CEM is a great opportunity to receive a structured understanding of the industry, encapsulated in less than 10 days, and a great way to incorporate standards and expectations across the globe. CEM is not a Phd, of course, but is a clear indication of the understanding of a person when it comes to exhibition management. The industry depends on a lot of temporary and last-minute entrants, from staff to service providers, so it is really important we understand how to bring it all together: laws, rules, budgeting, safety, standards, execution, promotion, marketing, and, of course, ROI for the customer. For some, it can be a bit too much, returning to studying, but I am glad I did it - there is so much we don’t know. If you are like me and like learning and discovering every day of your life, this is for you! Aparna Bhargava has held roles in hotel sales and marketing and set up the regional office for Messe Muenchen in New Delhi. She has also lectured on customer relationship management at University. She attended a CEM learning programme in Bangalore International Exhibition Center in two parts: over four days in March and four days in July 2018 - not typically busy periods for the Indian exhibition industry (most exhibitions take place September to February). Asked about the advantages of doing the CEM course, Bhargava says: “You get a 360-degree view of the industry and to understand national and international standards, which you can then apply in your own work. You also get to realise the gaps in your country and challenges which you may not have thought about in your regular work scenario. “It broadens the perspective and, provided you attain the CEM, at certain levels it can give you an edge to get hired.” She stresses the programme is constantly evolving and feedback is used to upgrade it for the next time around. CEM is overseen by the IAEE and, in India, it is run by the Indian Exhibition Industry Association (IEIA). Issue 2 2019 33