Shaun McKeogh

Dec 5, 2013, 12:54 PM

Shaun McKeogh is an educator at heart. Before he accepted his first job in the amusement industry two decades ago, McKeogh worked as a teacher, inspiring classrooms of schoolchildren to get excited about learning.

“I loved [teaching] but felt I wanted to work in an industry that allowed for more creativity,” he says. “For me, the attractions industry was where it was at, combining theater, storytelling, special effects, thrills, fun, laughter, and creating magical memories.”

McKeogh brings that passion for education to his role as vice president of management resources and director of human resources and training for California-based ProFun Management Group.

Based in Vietnam, McKeogh travels around the world setting up human resources departments and designing and delivering training programs for new theme parks and attractions. His most recent projects include stints at Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet‘n’Wild Water World in Australia and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.

While McKeogh has a track record for helping parks achieve success, his role is not without its challenges.

The deadlines associated with opening a new park, including recruitment drives, on-the-job training, and pressure for new team members to deliver top-notch customer service to guests are stressful. But McKeogh takes it all in stride.

“It’s that sort of moment [when] you just have to have faith in your good work, hold your breath and let everyone just do their thing,” he says. “If we have done our jobs well and empowered our team members, then we generally find everything turns out so much better than expected.”

McKeogh’s success helping parks to develop management structures and improve their bottom line results led him to co-author a book about theme park management, Reasons 2 Reward. The message in the book: Parks can maximize profits by taking care of the team members and guests who form the heart of the amusement business. He calls the book -- and the message it contains -- one of his biggest accomplishments.

McKeogh cites his connection with IAAPA as one of the reasons his career has turned out so well. He wrote to association representative Ann-Maree O'Neill while he was living in Australia to ask for advice on transitioning from teaching to the theme park industry. O’Neill provided information and encouragement that led to a lasting friendship and a relationship with IAAPA.

He is a longstanding member of IAAPA’s Human Resources Committee (and its current chair) and will join the Education Committee in 2014. For McKeogh, the support he received from O’Neill is top-of-mind when he’s mentoring IAAPA Show Ambassadors who volunteer at IAAPA’s Expos in Orlando and Asia.

“I am passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. To be able to support his awesome group of young people and to help guide and nurture their careers in the attractions industry is a special thing to be part of,” he says. “[Being on the HR committee] is lots of hard work but the fun we have and return we get in regards to personal satisfaction is enormous.”