by Sarah J.F. Braley | June 21, 2017
At its World Education Congress, taking place in Las Vegas through Thursday, June 22, Meeting Professionals International introduced new education offerings from its MPI Academy, part of the new Executive Education Series. including the Women in Leadership Program and a designation program for the highly-regarded MPI Experiential Event Series. 
The MPI Academy's Executive Education Series has been created for senior-level and executive meeting professionals, with programming for those with executive-level experience in the industry, as well as midlevel professionals aspiring to leadership positions.
"I cannot be more pleased with the progress we have made with MPI Academy since it launched two years ago," said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI. "Our members tell us year after year that education is one of the most important benefits of their MPI membership, so it is important we continue to strengthen our portfolio of offerings with fresh, relevant and timely courses. The average MPI member has between 10 to 20 years of experience, and they have been seeking more immersive and insightful educational programs that are comparable to what they might experience in graduate school. We believe the MPI Executive Education Series will meet that need."
One of the new tracks comes from the association's just-announced collaboration with the the University of Southern Mississippi's National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (also known as NCS4) to develop risk-management educational programming and resources. The first course, "Emergency Preparedness for Meetings and Events," debuts at the WEC this week. This six-hour intensive certificate course focuses on dealing with emergency incidents from the standpoints of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
Also presented at the WEC was MPI's program for women seeking to move up the ladder, which debuted in February. The preconference seminar, "Women in Leadership: Executive Leadership Skills Certificate Course," was created in partnership with Marriott and examines why it is so challenging for women to move into higher positions in the workplace. Participants devise a personal action plan and mentor each other during the four-hour program. The course will be presented five more times in 2017 in New York (twice), Florida, Nevada and Texas.
The MPI Experiential Event Series has been expanded, and for those who choose to take advantage of the full menu of the curriculum, the Experiential Event Professional Designation has been created. The program consists of multiday behind-the-scenes participation at world-class events; this year's classes went on a cruise with Royal Caribbean, attended the C2 creativity conference in Montreal, watched the Indianapolis 500 race and experienced SXSW in Austin, Texas. Each event offers 15-25 clock hours of experiential education, and participants receive a certificate in one of four event design areas: sports, culinary, entertainment or mega-event. Those who earn a certificate in all four areas can apply for the Experiential Event Professional (XEP) designation, which requires them to develop a business case and presentation on the knowledge they gained during the program. They then have the option to present their final projects live at an MPI signature event or virtually, and receive live feedback from their peers and a panel of industry representatives.
"The MPI Academy's focus this year is on developing educational opportunities that will engage meeting professionals in meaningful ways, introduce them to innovative new ideas and help them advance in their careers," said Academy director Kristi Casey Sanders, CMM, DES, HMCC. "Rather than spoon-feed participants what to think through lectures, each of these experiences include an element of peer-to-peer learning, time for reflection, group work and exercises to help participants apply what they've learned. It's part of our strategy to provide advanced-level education that helps meeting professionals stay ahead of the curve."