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Why I got my CPSM Certification

March 19, 2013

Today’s post is courtesy of by Pia Cardinali, CPSM, Marketing Manager at Carol R Johnson Associates, and member of SMPS Boston’s Education Committee. She can be reached at or you can follow her on twitter @pia_card.

I was fairly new to Boston and to the AEC industry in the spring of 2008 when my boss suggested I join SMPS. I was fortunate in that he fully supported the time I would need to take away from my job to attend events and be an active member in the organization. The more events I attended, the more I wanted to attend. I was meeting my peers and getting to know industry leaders. I was becoming familiar and friendly with other marketing professionals whom I was regularly interacting with over the phone and via email. This was a great opportunity.

SMPS CPSMAs I learned more about SMPS, I heard about the CPSM certification. My curiosity was piqued so I went to an info session. Even though I hadn’t been in the AEC industry for 3 years, I did have marketing experience from my prior work in other industries. I was able to use this experience to qualify for the test. My boss supported me in this effort because the firm’s principals were already seeing benefits to the firm of my active SMPS participation. With an optimistic approach, I figured that I had nothing to lose by studying and preparing for the exam and everything to gain. Even if my firm did not pay for the cost of the exam, I still think I would have had this outlook. The Boston SMPS chapter provides nearly all of the study materials and the study group sessions are free. In the big picture, the exam cost was not a huge expense – you probably spend that much on entertainment and restaurants within a one or two month period. I knew that I would benefit from the process regardless of my test results.

Participating in the study sessions kept me on track with all of the reading assignments. I came up with a schedule for completing the reading, answering the study guide questions and reviewing the materials. Friday afternoon became my quiet study time. I learned so much by reading through the materials. Coming from a firm with a small marketing department, I had to be very self-reliant and creative in managing my time and developing collateral materials for the firm. The study guide was like being handed an enormous cheat-sheet of information – suddenly I had tons of new ideas and advice on how to improve what I was already doing. I also found it validated some of the things I was unsure about and gave me more confidence in what I was doing. I was able to speak with greater authority at office meetings and feel like I had more to offer my firm.

In addition to keeping my reading and studying on track, the study group sessions provided a time to discuss the reading and review the questions. This helped me better understand the materials and work through some of the areas where I was confused. I also got to know my study partners and furthered these relationships with colleagues in our industry.

I was thrilled that I passed the exam and am now a CPSM. My boss and the principals at my firm valued my input and respected me even more; I’d shown initiative and an interest in furthering my own knowledge, which also helped to improve the firm and its marketing efforts. As my career has continued to evolve, having the CPSM designation has served to make me stand out as a job candidate. In just a few short years, I have seen the benefits of this certification. Knowing that I need to participate in a certain number of continuing education programs to maintain my certification is impetus and justification for continued participation in SMPS.

Getting certified was a commitment – of time, effort, brainpower, and money. It was nowhere near the level of effort involved in going back to school for a graduate degree, and does not compare to the rigorous tests that architects and engineers must take for their licensing. But for giving up my free time for a few short months, studying hard on evenings and weekends, the benefits have far outpaced the investment.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2013 7:14 pm

    Nice summary of the benefits of certification Pia. Your point about the added benefit of benchmarking your activities on the job with certification best practices via the study guide makes perfect sense.


  1. Diary of a CPSM Candidate: Finally Taking the Plunge | Outlook Blog

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