New Master’s Program for Planners: Is it Worth It?

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A masters degree helped Deana Roberts to elevate her business Deanna Deanna
Deanna R. Roberts, MS, CMM, DR Roberts Event Management

For Deanna R. Roberts, MS, CMM, earning a Master’s was a big boost to her business and her professional development.

An event planner/producer for more than 20 years, and with an undergraduate degree in business from UC Berkeley, Deanna Roberts has long aspired to get a Master’s degree. For most of that time, her focus on running DR Roberts Event Management Company took precedence. Then, after earning her CMM in 2019, she was accepted into the very first class of a new Master’s program at San Diego State University.

Created by the SDSU L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in collaboration with MPI, the Master’s in Meeting and Event Management is the first graduate-level program in North America designed for meeting professionals. Was it worthwhile for Roberts? Prevue caught up with her for an exclusive interview to get the skinny.

Prevue: What made you decide to get your Master’s? 

Roberts: I always strive to learn and to be the best I can be. I was intrigued by this program because it was an opportunity to broaden my skills, and to elevate my event management company to another level.

Did the San Diego State Masters Program live up to your expectations?

Yes, it was a well rounded program that had us take a deeper look at ourselves and at the industry from a business point of view. We studied analytics, statistics, marketing, finance, leadership, and innovation. The education was much like an MBA program.

 What was your thesis topic?

The program called it a capstone instead of a thesis because the focus was on business development. My topic addressed what to do with an events business after COVID. I explored how to pivot and reimagine my company from a virtual perspective.

What was your biggest challenge returning to school for a Masters as an adult?

Initially, it was the time management challenge of running a business while going back to school. Then came the perfect storm: COVID shut down all live events and I got sick with the virus. The Masters program went virtual. But most of us students—from all over North America—worked together and made it through. We had a virtual graduation in November 2020 and were allowed to walk the stage on May 26 of this year.

What was your greatest takeaway?

I look at my business from a different lens now in terms of how to manage my clients and make sure they get ROI and production value from an event. During this time I produced my biggest piece of business ever for a new client: a 4-day virtual event with more than 200 speakers. What I learned in the Master’s program was a game changer.

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