Going back to exhibition school...

Aparna Bhargava, Regional Head of Messe Munchen India, goes back to school with a Certified Exhibition Management training course, and tells EW all.


abWhen 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. 

"CEM is a great opportunity to receive a structured understanding of the industry, encapsulated in less than 10 days"

More mature markets help us understand standard operating procedures and executions and 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! 

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