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Growing with CPSM and SMPS

Since the spring of 2008, I have been involved with SMPS. It is hard to believe that it has already been 10 years since I joined this industry and my boss suggested I start attending SMPS events. As there was so much to learn about my job and the industry, it wasn’t long before I became an active member of the organization. Through SMPS, I was able to meet so many marketing professionals who provided me with support and knowledge.

I attended every education session I could and found myself quickly growing in my new role. As I learned more about SMPS, I heard about the CPSM certification. My curiosity was piqued, so I went to an info session. This was just what I needed to really dive into my job – assigned reading and the structure of a class to keep me on track. I also received the bonus of forming even deeper relationships with some of my industry peers.

My boss supported me in this effort, as the firm was already seeing benefits of my active participation in SMPS. I applied to take the exam and started attending the study sessions. The Boston SMPS chapter has scans of the materials and I was fortunate to receive one of the SMPS Boston chapter scholarships to reimburse my company for the cost of the exam. I knew that I would learn so much from the process, regardless of my test results.

I came to look forward to the study sessions. My study group supported each other and together we worked through the answers to some of the more vague questions and reviewed and discussed the reading from that section.

I carved out time every Friday to sit in the quiet of a conference room to read and complete the practice questions. I was able to apply some innovative ideas to my work right away – proving that I would benefit from the process, not just the test results.

A group of us took the test together and I was thrilled to learn I passed the exam and am now a CPSM. The benefits of the certification were soon apparent. Going through the study process and receiving my CPSM has validated my work and given me more confidence in what I do. My boss and the principals at my firm value my input and respect me even more. Showing initiative and an interest in furthering my own knowledge has also helped to improve the firm and its marketing efforts.

Knowing that I need to receive CEUs to maintain my certification is impetus and justification to continually participate in SMPS professional development and industry events, which keeps me on the forefront of industry changes.

As my career has continued to evolve, having the CPSM designation has made me stand out as a job candidate. I have also grown within SMPS, having recently served as the Boston Chapter President. Getting certified was a commitment – of time, effort, brainpower, and money. But the benefits of the challenging work have far outpaced the investment.


Pia Cardinali, CPSM, is the Marketing Director at C R J A – IBI Group. She is the immediate past President (2017-2018) of SMPS and has served in many capacities including being on the Programs and Education Committee and serving as Director of the Education Committee.

Pia Cardinali, CPSM


Pia Cardinali, CPSM, is the president of SMPS Boston for the 2017-2018 program year. She is the marketing manager at CRJA-IBI Group, a landscape architecture firm in Boston with offices in Knoxville and Beijing.

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