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CPCE Spotlight: Ashley Anderson, CPCE

Our CPCE Spotlight is where professionals share their motivation behind earning the Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). This month we are featuring Ashley Anderson, CPCE, Sales Account Manager for EB Inc.

If you are interested in being featured, please contact cpce@nace.net.

Q. Please provide some background on your current position and organization, as well as your path to getting there.

A. I graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2013 with a major in Hospitality. I went straight into working hotels and did both operations and event services. There was a short period of time where my husband and I had moved to Oklahoma so I could get my Masters at the University of Oklahoma, but God had other plans and we had a baby instead 🙂 We quickly realized Oklahoma was not for us long-term. When I was moving back I reached out to my mentor, Lisa Carruth, CPCE and she connected me with Jill Vidal-Raines, CPCE at EB Inc events. While I was waiting to solidify my position with EB, I worked for a hotel in Houston during the Superbowl. It was one of the most rewarding and stressful experiences of my life – a lot of long days and time away from my family. As soon as all my groups wrapped up, I knew my time in hotels was done. I had seen all I needed to and took the leap to join Jill’s team here at EB Inc Events. I can say without a doubt that this was the best decision for myself and my family.

Q: How has CPCE certification helped your career to date?

A: Well, first it came with a small raise…and who doesn’t love one of those? But honestly, I think my clients are more trusting of me now. Not only that, but it gives me the confidence to also trust myself and know that I’m going in the right direction. Also, it’s also a great conversation starter when networking!

Q: What are your professional goals for the next 5, 10, 20+ years?

A. I am still asking myself that exact question. I never thought I would be in a position before I was 30 that I loved so much. I’ve gone through so much personally over the last 4 years here at EB (and Jill & the EB team have been an amazing support system!) that I haven’t even thought twice about my future and where I want to be. I’m just living in the moment and making sure I always do what I love.

Q. Did you have a mentor or a group of colleagues who encouraged you to pursue CPCE? How did their encouragement help you through the process?

A. YES!!!! Jill Vidal Raines, CPCE and Lisa Carruth, CPCE! They gave me all their old materials to help with study sessions and gave me several pep talks. If I am being honest, I was frazzled with computer issues the first time I took my test and did not pass. Jill and Lisa helped me study more, arranged, and encouraged me to take it again, and then I passed! Just having their support and knowing they believed in me was tremendous.

Q. Any tips for future applicants of CPCE?

A. Don’t stress! Easier said than done, but we know this stuff… no need to get worked up! Also, you must be willing to just answer how the book says in some cases…even if this is not how you typically handle things.

Q: Do you have a favorite CPCE memory?

A: Honestly, walking the stage at the NACE Experience Conference. As we get older, some of our achievements aren’t as exciting and we don’t get to go all out for the celebration. This made it so much fun!!

Q: Would you be willing to share with us a funny or surprising story about CPCE or working in the catering and events industry?

A: If you follow me on any social media accounts, I am pretty open about taking care of my grandparents. My grandma has Alzheimer’s and it’s literally like the movie, “Finding Dory.” (It’s OK to laugh, it’s all we caregivers can do in these situations.) Several years ago, I did my first style shoot by myself and was able to use some of my grandmother’s fine china and silver pieces for it. This particular style of shoot actually won a NACE ONE Award and I was able to be there to accept it. It meant even more to me, as I felt like I was honoring my grandmother. Nothing could mean more to me…the funny part though is still to this day, my grandma puts those pieces to the side when I come over thinking I still need them for work and need to get them back to my boss.

Q. What is your favorite or most memorable part of working in the catering and events industry?

A. In general, it’s the happy clients and pictures we receive after a wedding. First, I love when a client tells me I’m good at my job and they love what I’ve put together. Sometimes we all need a little reassurance. Second, not only do I love the pretty pictures of our designs, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE to look through all the photo galleries from when the bride was walking down the aisle, to the groom’s reaction, to them dancing the night away. Just seeing how happy they are makes me happy! More specifically speaking, I love when we get to do the local prom. I love the weeks leading up to it when we get to volunteer to help the girls find their dresses and accessories. There is something that is so humbling about the experience that I truly cannot put it into words. Then, of course, the added bonus that we get to help create a night they will never forget. A lot of love and hard work goes into this. I truly hope we have the same effect on them as they do us.

Get to know Ashley a bit more:

I graduated from SFA in 2013 and come from a background in hotels, but then found my true happy place was helping design events through linens! I am obsessed with my 5-year-old daughter, my hunk of a husband, lipstick (the bolder the better), and Oklahoma Football! Boomer Sooner!

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Crystal Irwin

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One Reply to “CPCE Spotlight: Ashley Anderson, CPCE”

  1. Jill Vidal-Raines says:

    So proud of you Ashley!

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