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Kathy Burrows retired from the role of Public Relations Manager at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts in fall 2017. "In my 27-year career, I have seen more women advance to the 'director' role. I do think that more women need to be on executive committees and be in positions of corporate leadership," she says. "This is important because, in our industry, women are seen as the 'decision makers.' Each person offers a unique perspective and I think all levels of employment should be diverse. Also, it is important, and just good business, to have a leadership and workforce that reflects your guests."

 
 

Thoughts on Women in the Industry


What is the most pressing issue facing women in the workplace today, and how can the attractions industry influence positive change?

The most pressing issue facing women in the workplace is equal pay for men and women. The attractions industry can assist by encouraging transparency, encouraging open and honest dialogue, and promoting legislation and industries that support and enforce equal pay.

How have you built your network of women in the industry?

I have built my network by serving on the IAAPA Communications Committee and other industry and work-related committees. Also, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts has a Workplace Inclusion Committee. I am a member of this committee, which provides information and resources and encourages open and honest discussion in a safe environment. Committee members share with employees throughout the company. The committee’s goal is to further understanding of all groups of people and then, hopefully, hire and retain a very diverse workplace. The Workplace Inclusion Committee also partners with other similar committees in the town of Hershey and we share resources and meet to discuss topics of interest. It is beneficial to all people to learn what other companies are doing in regard to best practices.

Hershey Entertainment & Resorts formed a Women in Leadership group a number of years ago with the intent of bringing women together to network and attend sessions on a variety of topics that were especially relevant to women. The committee now offers information, resources, and informative sessions to everyone within the company. Nationally known speakers have presented on a variety of workplace related issues.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to convey to women starting their attractions careers?

One thing I have found that has worked and continues to work well for me is using "I messages." When someone asks a question, I try to always reply with "In my experience …," "In my opinion …," and "Based on what I have seen …"

In my career, I have encountered a number of very outspoken women and men. I feel everyone is entitled to their opinions and everyone has different experiences and comes from a different past. It is important to have and share different opinions and discuss the best outcomes.

Creating Careers of Distinction

How do you invest in yourself as a leader?
I attend sessions inside and outside the company, I scan Google alerts and all kinds of professional and industry e-mails, read a variety of publications, I attend IAAPA sessions and webinars, I belong to several public relations and communications organizations, and attend sessions that I feel will be beneficial. I also enjoy conversations with other industry professionals and enjoy sharing best practices.

What is your most cherished work principle?

Treat everyone with the same respect.

What do you consider your most significant career accomplishment?

As I am retiring, several younger women have told me that I have been a role model for them. That is the biggest accomplishment I could ever hope for.

What has had the greatest impact on your career?

The biggest impact on my career was early in my career. Two women in leadership positions behaved very aggressively. I would consider them bullies. I knew then that I would never treat people the way they treated me.

What has been the greatest challenge of your career?

The most difficult challenge for me has been handling financial matters, budgets, etc. I don't know if I have completely overcome that but each time I am challenged I find it a bit easier to handle.

What was the greatest piece of career advice you ever received?
Return calls and e-mails as soon as possible and if you don't know an answer, say so and tell the person that you WILL find out. Find out the answer as quickly as possible and get back to the person asking the question.

The Future of the Industry

Why did you join and choose to stay in the attractions business?
I joined Hershey Entertainment & Resorts as a marketing coordinator. After several years, my position was "attached" to the company's Entertainment Division. I am drawn to the fast pace, not knowing what the day holds, and multitasking. I guess you could say I don't do well sitting at a desk and working on one task all day.

Also, the people I have met in the industry are so passionate and so fun. I tell media that all our Park Operations Team are experts in their particular fields, and the field just happens to be in a really fun industry. I love the creativity of looking for solutions that are outside the box.

What makes you most passionate about the industry?
What makes me most passionate about the industry is the talented, creative, and dedicated people I work with and know in the industry.

What is your vision for the industry in the next 20 years?
I think that "experiences" will continue to be what people search out for entertainment. I think food and beverage will continue to grow in terms of indulgence and creativity. I think roller coasters and water areas will also be important to the success of amusement parks.

 
 
​​Know a professional we should talk to? E-mail Prasana William, IAAPA manager, digital content and strategy.

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