Senior Duty Manager, Project Manger, Disney's Water Parks
Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista, Florida - USA
Featured in "World Waterpark Magazine," July/August 2017
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. I am a graduate of the U.S. Army Sergeant’s Major Academy. Most of my leadership training was courtesy of the U.S. Army.
WHAT CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING DO YOU HAVE?
I hold Certified Pool Operator and Aquatic Facility Operator certification. I am also Deep Water Lifeguard certified through Ellis & Associates.
WHAT HONORS, AWARDS OR SPECIAL RECOGNITION HAVE YOU ACHIEVED?
I have received numerous military awards including the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit. I was recognized as a Disney Partner in Excellence and received the Disney Legacy Award.
WHAT MADE YOU GO INTO THIS FIELD?
When I retired from the U.S. Army, I really wanted to find a job where I could spend some more time at home yet still be physically and mentally challenged. I took a role as a lifeguard at Typhoon Lagoon while I searched for the right job. Little did I know at the time that I was in the right job. I soon progressed into the role I now have.
WHAT ASPECT OF THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY DO YOU LIKE BEST?
Since we are smaller than our big park brothers, it is fun to have the ability to be more of a proprietor and have an entrepreneurial approach to things. You have to take a lot of ownership in these parks and there is something to learn every day.
WHO HAS MOST INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
In waterparks, I think I would say Mark Rucker. Mark was the General Manager for waterparks when I first arrived here. I learned a lot about Disney from him. He was also good at helping me transfer my leadership skills from the military to Disney. He put me into situations where I had to learn the hospitality and guest service part of the business.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR WATERPARK CAREER?
Recruiting and keeping good Cast Members and leaders is probably one of the greatest challenges. Waterparks are a seasonal business and you really have to work hard to both develop and find rewarding roles for your Cast.
HOW DO YOU KEEP FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?
Staying motivated is easy, as I work around a lot of young people that keep me on my toes. The focus I think comes from the fact that it takes a tremendous attention to detail be successful in this business. You are dealing with the safety of quite a few people who are participating in activities around your park.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY?
If you like being outside A LOT, don’t mind having to work long days but want a job where you go home at night both physically and mentally exhausted, this is the industry for you. My military background fit perfect with this.
WHAT BOOKS OR PUBLICATIONS DO YOU RELY ON MOST FOR INSPIRATION OR MOTIVATION?
I read a few things as soon as they come out, including: “World Waterpark Magazine,” “Aquatics International” and “Tourists Attractions and Parks.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
Making magic for guests. There is nothing more rewarding than turning what could been a negative into a positive situation. The biggest part of the Duty Manger role is to be able to take otherwise difficult situations and make them seem seamless and effortless to the guest and your team. “We got this and its under control. Now how can I make your day better?”.
WHAT CAREER OR BUSINESS WOULD YOU CONSIDER IF YOU WERE STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN?
I think I would go into the weather forecasting business. Those guys are never right. Gotta love a job you can be wrong more than right and still keep your job.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE WWA?
I attended a convention about 10 years ago and have missed few since. The networking and idea sharing is something you don’t see in many organizations. You can really get a glimpse at trends in the industry and best practices if you just have conversations with friends!
WHAT IS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOU THAT FEW KNOW OR WOULD GUESS?
Well I think when people learn I am a retired Special Forces Operator, they are a bit surprised. It’s the same as what I do now—plan for the unexpected and hope you never have to use the plan, but if you do, execute flawlessly.