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CPCE Spotlight: Kara Landrith, M.S., CMP, CPCE, PBC

Our CPCE Spotlight is where professionals share their motivation behind earning the Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). This month we are featuring Kara Landrith, M.S., CMP, CPCE, PBC, Senior Account Manager for 360 AV Design.

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

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

A. As the Senior Account Manager at 360 AV Design, a small but mighty AV production firm in Houston, I wear several hats in my role – anything and everything from accounting to client management. I transitioned to 360 in February 2020 as they geared up for the spring busy season (only to have COVID create a new plan for us). We hit our first anniversary in June and are thrilled to have amazing relationships with industry partners that keep the calls coming in.

Q. How has CPCE helped your career?

A. The relationships built while working through a certification program like CPCE help to build trust and a common bond with others that are like-minded. People work with people they like and the CPCE certification allowed me to learn alongside industry partners that I may not have otherwise built a relationship with.

By nature, I am a seeker of knowledge, so the certification was for me – not necessarily for my career. I am proud that I am able to place CPCE behind my name and am able to use it to prove I have actively sought out educational opportunities to better my skillset in this industry.

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

A. Had you asked me this question 5 years ago, I would have said to climb the ladder and lead a team of aspiring planners. In my experience, our industry is unforgiving of your personal life so your schedule, especially if you have a family, is largely dictated by your work needs.  Moreover, my passion shifted from building a team to building a company. My role with 360 AV Design allows me to pursue that passion to help ensure the success and longevity of 360 AV Design.

That said, I love teaching and hope to one day work as an adjunct professor in a Hospitality program. I enjoy sharing knowledge and working with students as they find their footing in their career paths.

Q. Who or what encouraged you to apply?

A. Lisa Hopkins Barry, CPCE, CMP, my leader at The Houstonian Hotel.

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

A. I learned about the CPCE early in my career.  However, it took several job transitions (for a number of reasons) to find the right leadership who understood the value of the CPCE and was willing to support me taking it. Once I met Lisa, I worked diligently with her to put a plan in place to be able to sit for the test.

Q. Any tips for future applicants of CPCE?

A. CPCE is a combination of practical and book knowledge, whereas the CMP was all about book knowledge. Because of the format of the test, your experience can make knocking out questions confidently significantly easier.

Know your study style.  If you learn best by using flashcards, create them, and use them. If you learn best in a study group, start one or join one.

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. I firmly believe industry designations on your resume speak volumes about your commitment to your industry, your craft, and your desire to learn. Those that seek additional education outside of work are committed to their craft and the letters behind your name prove that even without meeting that person. Although it may or may not have a direct impact on your current position, the designation carries its most weight on your resume or on your business cards (especially with new clients).

Q. Do you have a favorite CPCE memory?

A. The camaraderie that comes out of an experience like this – late-night study sessions or texting between friends on a question you are stuck on.

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

A. We really are a family. We look out for one another and are eager to see each other succeed.  Plus, there is enough business for all of us, so why not support your competitors, be a better industry partner to your fellow vendors, and celebrate each other’s wins?!  I’d rather be known for doing the best we could by providing outstanding quality products and services and supporting our industry as a whole, than bullying clients and industry partners into working with us, even if that means we don’t get everything we bid on.


Get to know Kara a bit more:

With over twenty years of experience as an event professional, Kara Landrith, M.S., CMP, CPCE, PBC, has certainly created a well-rounded background that spans from Florida to Hawaii working with companies such as Anheuser Busch, Omni Hotels, Diamond Resorts International, Land Resource Companies (an Orlando based land developer), California State University San Marcos, the Houstonian Hotel as well as the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. Kara’s latest adventure is partnering with her husband, Jason Fajkus to build and develop 360 AV Design Group, an event production firm that focuses on staging, lighting, sound, and video in the greater Houston market. Additionally, she is extremely involved in industry organizations and is an advocate for maintaining involvement within the local community as well as within your professional industry. Kara received her Masters in Hospitality and Tourism Management in 2017 from San Diego State University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, step-sons, and their fur children. Post-COIVD, they plan to start traveling internationally (again) and volunteering at local retirement homes with their German Shepherds.

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Crystal Irwin


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