Today, Feb. 13, is often observed as "Galentine's Day." Just one day before the country celebrates romantic relationships with chocolates, roses and fancy cards, Galentines Day is a holiday to celebrate female friendships. We are fortunate to have wonderful, dedicated team members of both genders, but to us, this lighthearted day seemed like the perfect excuse to shine a spotlight on some of the women who make our parks great. So, we gathered a few boss ladies and picked their brains about their jobs, their experiences and their advice for the next generation of women.
Fun Fact: There's over 200 years of park experience, collectively, sitting at this table.
Meet Our Galentines:
L-R: Suzy (Director, Design & Engineering), Renee (Director, Operations), Georgette (Manager, Operations), Jodie (Manager, Operations), Caroline (Vice President, Merchandise), Theresa (Executive Assistant), Jenn (Manager, Entertainment), Carmen (Manager, Culinary), Kristi (Manager, WCUSA Operations), Megan (Supervisor, Zoological)
What you eat, what you buy, what you ride, what experience, what you watch, what you do - our Galentines have a hand in all of it. Here are some of their job duties:
Theresa: I've been in my current role for 13 years, but with the company since 1979. I've done everything from being a theatre hostess to driving the train. Currently, my primary responsibility is to support the Park President by managing the daily schedule, coordinating and attending meetings and answering correspondence. During the course of a year, I am involved in the planning of countless community events, team member events, and planning meetings. In addition, in my role as the community engagement representative, I work with Human Resources and other departments to oversee our team member volunteer program and the parks' charitable efforts.
Georgette: I can't even begin to list this… I am one of two park operations managers. We oversee the daily operation of park attractions (rides, shows and special events), maintain park cleanliness and work with other departments to ensure an enjoyable guest experience. We develop and execute training for our leadership teams and locations to ensure that they perform within our safety standards and the overall vision of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.
Suzy: I do project management for park attractions and other construction projects including both new, and renovation of existing facilities from the conceptual phase through final construction.
Kristi: When you're a leader at WCUSA your job entails a little bit of everything mixed in with our main areas of responsibility. My job is manager of Guest Arrival (everything ticketing and guest services) and Merchandise.
We asked our Galentines what was the most rewarding part of their jobs, many agreed was the impact their work has on our guests and their experiences at the park. Here are few other notable answers:
Carmen: Working with the team members is very rewarding - being someone's first boss and helping them navigate working for the first time and seeing them grow and succeed.
Megan: Creating a meaningful connection with a wild animal, like wolves, foxes or hawks, is so unique and so special. Getting past an animal's natural instinct of wariness and building a relationship of trust is incomparable - especially considering that you can't use language to explain what you're asking of them. When that "lightbulb" moment happens, you've effectively just made a connection with a wild animal that is strong enough to bridge the gap between not only language, but species. How amazing is that?
Renee: I enjoy watching team members "grow up" at the park and grow into their own person or grow into a leader. Being able to be a part of someone's leaderhsip journey and having a positivie influence on them is very rewarding.
Caroline: The most rewarding part of my job is working with people. I love sharing my story with team members and hearing about them. I feel like I am an active leader and enjoy working side by side with our team. I also get to interact with people all day every day.
Everyone on our esteemed panel enjoys her job, none would be here if they didn't. But let's face it, even the most rewarding jobs have their challenges. Here are a few of the challenges the ladies face:
Kristi: It can be hard spending so much time away from my kiddo in the summer. But, she loves that I work at Water Country USA and my afternoons off are often spent in H20-UFO with her and her friends.
Megan: I have to make myself do the office stuff that comes with this job and with being a supervisor when I would much rather be connecting with the animals my team and I care for.
Jenn: I think people would be surprised with how small a team we have to produce new shows each season. It can be hard to live in the present and also working on the future and thinking about where we want to go with our entertainment offerings.
Theresa: I'm always working on a lot of projects, so the challege is to stay organized while multi-tasking.
200 years is a lot of experience, so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to find out what insights that experience has give our panel. We asked each of the women to share some advice for the next generation of girls, or for themselves at a younger age or for someone wanting to join their field and here's what they had to say:
Kristi: Don't be afraid/intimidated to find your niche and build on your leadership strengths. We don't realize how everyday situations guide and build our leadership qualities. Seize those opportunities.
Suzy: Young women should work to learn as much as they can in their chosen field in the first several years of their career. When ready, go after promotions, (if that's what you want) and don’t be afraid to change jobs if you're unhappy.
Theresa: I would say to my younger self: Embrace change. It will lead you down some important paths. And enjoy every moment of working for a theme park. It’s a wonderful job.
Georgette: I would suggest that they set goals and ensure that they are working towards them. They should work to view things through CAN and POSSIBILITIES rather than focus on can’t and impossible. This will fuel innovation and create new ideas. Never stop learning and remain flexible!
Caroline: As a mother of two girls I try to set the example for them. I want them to be strong independent women who are not afraid to do whatever they desire. I am so proud of them and the woman they are becoming. They support me and were my biggest cheerleaders when I applied for the Vice President position. If I were to give them one piece of advice it would be to be honest and true to yourself.
Carmen: I would tell the next generation of girls that it’s ok to be smart and driven. You can be whatever you want to be, just be confident and believe in yourself.
Megan: Be determined, but patient. Getting into this field is tricky because the opportunities are few and far between and everyone wants them. Prepare yourself as much as possible and then be flexible.
Renee: Never give up on your dreams or on yourself. Always strive for more, don’t get complacent.
Jenn: I was fortunate in that I went to an all-girls school which made it easy to know that women can achieve leadership positions – that girls can be valedictorians, star soccer champions - it’s all possible. So my advice is to be kind and supportive of each other. We need strong women and we need to be kind and supportive of one another to make that happen.
Thanks to our wonderful team for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their insights. Happy Galentines Day to all the smart, driven, talented ladies out there.