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Melissa Plante is President, CLM Entertainment Group LLC. "The best advice I can give is to always learn something new," she says. "Sounds simple enough, but take every opportunity to collect certifications, attend seminars, and become members of attraction organizations. Through this you will meet people from all aspects of the industry. That growth will affect positively in every facet of your life."

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?
There is a disparity in the number of women working as certified amusement inspectors. There are nearly 300 active certified Level II inspectors and barely a dozen are women.

How have you seen the industry evolve in regard to gender roles?
There is an acceptance of women in the industry, slowly but surely. I’ve witnessed its evolution over the past 20 years. In the beginning, as a woman dealing with maintenance and operations people, they would often flat-out ignore my safety recommendations and defer to my male colleague. It felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously and my knowledge was inferior to that of a man’s; as amusement maintenance is predominantly male dominated. I believe time has increased gender equality within the industry.

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

Through dogged persistence. I’m lucky enough to sit on the board for the New England association (NEAAPA) as the head of the safety committee. I am also an IAAPA and NAARSO member, which keeps me in touch with other women. And the nature of my work, with constant travel, I get to meet a diverse group of people, and have made many personal and professional relationships.
 

Creating Careers of Distinction



How do you invest in yourself as a leader? 
I invest in learning all that I can about the cutting-edge emerging technologies, and always moving forward in certifications and seminars. What I learn I share among our team of Certified Risk Evaluators (CREs) throughout the country.

What is your most cherished work principle?

Honesty! I am humble enough to know I don’t know everything and I can admit that. While I don’t know everything, I can find the information someone may need and direct them to the appropriate person and/or parties. Some people fake it to make it but don’t realize how transparent it is for people to see through it. I feel that with honesty and communication people will respect you for who you are.
 
What has been the greatest challenge of your career?
CLM Entertainment was originally owned by Alan Ramsay, my best friend, who passed unexpectedly at the age of 41. I felt the business had to go on without him, as an honor to his memory and a legacy to his love of this industry. The experience was daunting and at times seemed insurmountable. Slowly and cautiously we kept moving forward and with the help of my family and friends and team we managed to save the business and prosper.
 
What was the greatest piece of career advice you ever received?
You can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t worry about not being able to do it, because then you won’t be able to.
 

The Future of the Industry



Why did you join and choose to stay in the attractions business?
I chose the industry as a way to make money. But there is just something about it … It gets in your blood! It encompasses you. I receive a great deal of joy working in all the dimensions of the attractions industry. You get to work with people whose sole job is to make others happy. Can’t go wrong with that equation.

What makes you most passionate about the industry?
It comes right back to happiness and the people we work with from the smallest traveling show to the largest parks. I’m also lucky enough to have my son, Jordan, who is now old enough to enjoy the big rides at the parks. I get to see the parks and devices through his eyes and the joy it brings him. I get to see how it continues to safely evolve into more dynamic and thrilling rides and theming. 
 
What is your vision for the industry in the next 20 years?
If the past few years of IAAPA Attractions Expo are any indicator, then it appears the entire industry is moving to and developing virtual or augmented reality into their devices and attractions. Pandora is out of the box.


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

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