As the economy went south back in spring 2001,
Donna Patrick found herself unemployed but holding what turned out
to be a very valuable ticket: admission to Meeting Professionals
International’s Certification in Meeting Management program, which
was to be held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., that
In April that year, Patrick took a new job as assistant to the
vice president of global marketing for Santa Clara, Calif.-based
Medtronics Vascular, a medical technology company. She passed the
CMM program, which focuses on teaching planners how to make
meetings and themselves a strategic force in their organizations.
Since then, Patrick, a 14-year veteran of the industry who now
holds both the CMP and CMM certifications, has been promoted twice,
most recently to manager of corporate meetings and events.
Developed in 1995 by an MPI task force in Europe, the CMM
originally was offered overseas to educate members of the European
meetings industry on the integration of events into the strategic
plan of an organization. MPI then worked with professors at
Michigan State University in East Lansing to refine the focus for
senior meetings professionals, bringing the program to the United
States in 1998.
The certification is for anyone working in the industry. “A lot
of people think this is just for planners, but it’s not,” stresses
Marsha Flanagan, MPI’s vice president of professional development.
“The curriculum imparts business skills strategic-thinking skills
not meeting planning tools. The skills can help a supplier be
better support for the meeting planner.”
To date, 318 industry professionals have earned the
designation. And demand is growing. Since applicants who have been
accepted have two years to go through the CMM program, MPI keeps a
running list of prospective CMMs, currently at about 80 people.