Director of Aquatics
Great Wolf Lodge - Charlotte/Concord
Charlotte, North Carolina - USA
Featured in "World Waterpark Magazine," March 2017
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
I completed my undergraduate degree at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) and my master’s in business administration from Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio). I have operated aquatic facilities ranging from pool management to large-scale outdoor waterparks to an indoor waterpark resort. I have opened two new waterparks and worked for three of the largest corporations in the industry. I currently serve as the Director of Aquatics at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord/ Charlotte, North Carolina.
WHAT CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING DO YOU HAVE?
I am an Ellis & Associates Instructor Trainer and a CPO.
WHAT HONORS, AWARDS OR SPECIAL RECOGNITION HAVE YOU ACHIEVED?
I place much more value in accomplishments for a team than individual. Across three different properties, my team has earned the Ellis & Associates Platinum Award fourteen times in the last fourteen years. This past year, the team at our lodge was recognized as the “Lodge of the Year” within our brand.
WHAT MADE YOU GO INTO THIS FIELD?
I (of course) started as a lifeguard. I especially credit Colleen Murphy for not only providing opportunities early in my career for professional advancement and growth, but also for demonstrating how to effectively lead people with support, encouragement and accountability.
WHAT ASPECT OF THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY DO YOU LIKE BEST?
I love listening to and reading customer and employee feedback. My current GM (Angie Brown, from whom I have learned a lot about employee empowerment) has given me the opportunity to facilitate a process improvement program at our property called 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX). 4DX allows me to read every guest comment, analyze trends, organize verbatims and share this information with the team. I strongly recommend every team adopt a similar process improvement or employee education program.
WHO HAS MOST INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
I have been fortunate to have some fantastic mentors in my career. The one from whom I learned the most would be Phil Cunningham, the GM who hired me into our brand. Phil taught me so much, especially about leadership, service quality and process improvement.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR WATERPARK CAREER
I struggled to maintain a good work-life balance in earlier chapters of my career. Over the years, I have learned to be more productive and efficient so I can spend time with my amazing wife and children.
HOW DO YOU KEEP FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?
By committing to our values, especially safety. By committing to our pack members (both in and out of my department). Committing to the service standards, especially related to cleanliness, we provide for our guests.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY?
“Always do the right thing. Seek to understand, then seek to be understood,” (S. Covey). “On matters of style, swim with the current; on matters of principle, stand like a rock,” (T. Jefferson). “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” (M. Ghandi). “Leadership is not about being in charge, but about taking care of those in your charge,” (S. Sinek). “Leaders don’t run away from problems, they run to problems,” (W. Morey).
WHAT BOOKS OR PUBLICATIONS DO YOU RELY ON MOST FOR INSPIRATION OR MOTIVATION?
I enjoy reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey. NPR publishes articles with great insight about customer expectations, trends in employment and developments in the business community.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
I love teaching, coaching and developing personnel. I have had the privilege to build professional relationships with some exceptional people over the years. I am also very passionate about the Ellis & Associates program and the standards of aquatics safety it represents.
WHAT CAREER OR BUSINESS WOULD YOU CONSIDER IF YOU WERE STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN?
Likely academia or public service.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE WWA?
I attended my first show in 2014 and have served on the Waterpark Resort Committee the past two years.
WHAT IS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOU THAT FEW KNOW OR WOULD GUESS?
I sang in an a cappella group in college. My co-workers would tell you having to listen to me sing is not a rare occurrence.