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CPCE Spotlight: Dida Hernandez

Last month we introduced a new blog series – CPCE Spotlight, where professionals share their motivation behind earning their Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). If you are interested in being featured, please contact cpce@nace.net.

Dida Hernandez, CPCE, CMP, Sommelier became CPCE certified in 2011 and is the Head of Hospitality & Events for Villa Marie Estate in New Zealand. She leads the hospitality department at Villa Maria’s flagship winery and events center for large scale special events and directs a team of over 40 within hospitality comprised of 3 different departments. Villa Maria began in 1961 and is New Zealand’s Most Trusted and Admired Wine Brand and recently named as one of the Top 10 Most Admired Wine Brands in the World. Villa Maria is 100 percent New Zealand family owned and operated and is an iconic piece of New Zealand’s wine heritage and a highly sought after venue for overseas tourists and dignitaries.

Q. How did you first learn about the CPCE program?

A. I first learned about the CPCE program in 2006 when I was appointed as Director of Catering & Conference Services at Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu, Hawaii. The program came highly recommended by the then Director of Sales as a must do for networking, professional development, and industry-specific accreditation.

Q. What or who encouraged you to consider applying?

A. My inspiration to apply to the program stems from a lifelong passion to learn, grow and share my knowledge with other passionate hospitality professionals. I selected this program because of the broad scope of content and the practical application of this.

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

A. Yes, absolutely without question – the certification provides a pathway to opportunity. The personal commitment and discipline this study requires post graduate gives you edge in the competitive job market. The journey to achieve the CPCE accreditation represents the core fundamentals of event professionals: preparation, creativity and execution.

Q. Do you have any tips for future applicants of CPCE?

A. Just do it! Challenge yourself and invest in your future.

Q. Do you have any stories to share about how the CPCE letters behind your name have helped express to colleagues, clients, employers, or others your knowledge and experience in the catering and events industry?

A. The CPCE letters behind my name gave me the confidence and motivation to continue my studies into wine and obtain my WSET Level 3 in 2016. During my time in Hawaii, the credentials supported my career growth into an executive role as Director of Food & Beverage. The industry recognized credentials gave my employer and colleagues an additional marketing tool as clients highly value how difficult it is to obtain.

Q. What might fellow CPCEs be surprised to learn about you?

A. My study group consisted of a very bright 5 year old mentored by an equally bright 8 year old that were relentless with flash cards and would not let me give up.

Q. Do you have a favorite CPCE memory?

A. I was very proud to be the first candidate to take the exam online using a nominated proxy. At the time it seemed quite advanced!

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

A. Who wouldn’t like the creative freedom this industry gives you? My office is a vineyard and every day I get to translate food and wine into an expression of the client. At this stage in my career, it’s leading and motivating effective teams, which ultimately provides me with the most satisfaction. I love the innovation and growth I have experienced in the industry over the past 22 years and while it’s not without its challenges it is still FUN!

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Crystal Irwin


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One Reply to “CPCE Spotlight: Dida Hernandez”

  1. Renee rothschild says:

    Great Job Dida!

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