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CPCE Spotlight: Brandon Lindley, CPCE, CMP, CSEP

Our CPCE Spotlight is where professionals share their motivation behind earning the Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). This month we are featuring Brandon Lindley, CPCE, CMP, CSEP.

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

Brandon Lindley, CPCE, CMP, CSEP



























Q. Please provide some background on your current position and company. 

A. After relocating to the California desert in 2016 as Senior Meetings and Special Events Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, I assisted my husband in bringing a Havaianas store to Downtown Palm Springs as one of the first licensees of the brand. Since October 2019, I left the hotel world as a small business owner and have been managing two licensed retail stores for Havaianas in Palm Springs, California, and Scottsdale, Arizona where I maintain strong ties to the local CVB, hotels, and meeting planners in adding some fun Havaianas poolside essentials to incentive trips and group events.

Q. Do you believe CPCE certification helped you achieve your current position?

A. Absolutely! Preparing for the CPCE exam was much like taking college coursework in the practical and applied business side of catering and events. I was able to relate the topics and scenarios to my daily tasks in building relationships of trust with clients and colleagues, as well as thinking outside the box in applying best practices with the clients’ vision in mind.

Q: Do you have professional goals you’d like to share with readers?

A. As COVID-19 has caused a worldwide economic crisis that has impacted the catering and events industry immensely, I am grateful that CPCE not only helped me be a better meetings and events manager, but also helped me understand and put into practice many aspects of running a business. I may be running two retail stores now, but I certainly have the initiative and understanding that can be applied to operating a hotel, flower shop, furniture rental company, or restaurant catering business in the future as our world reinvents the event experience in a safe and memorable way.

Q. How and when did you first learn about CPCE?

A. My Director of Sales at one of the Marriott properties in Las Vegas, Steve Speach, introduced me to NACE, which led me to discover the CPCE designation.

Q. Who or what encouraged you to apply?

A. When I was working at The Venetian Resort and Casino, I was challenged by my VP of Catering Conference Management, Gary McCreary, CPCE, CMP, CSEP, to prepare and sit for the exam. I recall Gary was very passionate and proud of his conference management team and gave us all the extra push we needed. I am so grateful to this day for his example and leadership while I grew and developed in Las Vegas.

Q. Is there a reason you chose CPCE as opposed to other industry certifications? If you have other certifications also, do you feel they complement each other?

A. I took the exam following the CMP and CSEP. I have shared with my hotel event colleagues that the CPCE is the most appropriate program designation for them, as it touches on all the aspects of catering and events that are important to the big hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Accor, Hyatt, etc). I felt CPCE was more segmented and focused on what is essential to know if you are going to be a manager, director, VP, or small business owner and be successful in our industry.

Q. Any tips for future applicants of CPCE?

A. Go into it with purpose. Take time to comprehend the various categories and topics. Ask other professionals in the industry to share with you their experiences, successes, and failures. This helped me shape understanding and respect for the professions that are essential to our industry where I didn’t have years of experience.

Q. How have the CPCE letters behind your name helped express to colleagues, clients, employers, or others your knowledge and experience in the industry?

A. The CPCE designation always sparks conversation. I felt that sharing my career experience, involvement, and passion for the catering and events industry – especially earning the CPCE designation – in conversations led to gaining enhanced trust when working on very complex and exclusive international events.

Q. Do you have a favorite CPCE memory?

A. The proctor for my exam was the late Patti Shock. I had previously been a guest speaker for her during Hotel Week at UNLV and loved reuniting with her again for my exam. I didn’t want to let her down, so I had a little bit of anxiety and pressure to ensure I passed the exam on the first attempt.

Q. Do you have a funny or surprising story about CPCE or working in the catering and events industry?

A. I remember on my very first day filling in as the hotel event coordinator, a client asked me to add an order of crudité to her menu… I didn’t know how to spell it or what it meant at the time – thank heavens for Google! The takeaway lesson is: know your vocabulary when you take the CPCE 😉

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

A. I love the creativity of the industry. When I was working in Las Vegas, no two events were ever alike. Challenges were always evident, but I felt I learned and grew incredibly after each program and event that helped me excel in becoming better and better at what I did. Also, I loved seeing the satisfaction on the faces of clients and attendees. It was always a lot of work, late nights, calls at all hours – but there was always a feeling of satisfaction as significant memories were being made.

Q. Any other thoughts you’d like to share in the CPCE Spotlight?

A. I strongly feel that anyone working in our industry is a perfect candidate for the CPCE when they have demonstrated the experience and desire required. Preparation for the exam pushes you to learn more about the areas you use regularly, as well as aspects that will give you better understanding and skills to assist you to become knowledgeable and responsive to just about every client and situation that will come your way in your career.


Get to know Brandon a bit more:

Brandon Lindley, CPCE, CMP, CSEP, attended UNLV for his undergraduate studies, as well as completed his Masters in Hospitality Administration. Starting off as a front desk agent at a Marriott hotel, his career path was inspired while taking his elective coursework in tourism and convention studies. Brandon has worked for The Venetian Resort & Casino and 5 brands of the Marriott hotel company, including The Ritz-Carlton. Currently, Brandon is back and forth between Palm Springs and Scottsdale overseeing two Havaianas retail stores. Brandon is a Vegas native but now calls Palm Springs home with his husband, Raphael, and their cute little Frenchie, Samba. When the weather is right, he enjoys hikes, bike rides, tennis, relaxing by the pool, and looks forward to one day having happy hour with good friends again.

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