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Sandra Daniels is Vice President of Corporate Communications for Six Flags Entertainment Corporation. After a decades-long career in broadcast journalism, Daniels joined Six Flags in 2000 and now oversees communications teams across all 20 facilities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.


 
 

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?
I think men and women  [are] alike, in that we are all looking for work/life balance. Our jobs are not 9 to 5. We work weekends, we work holidays; if our facilities are open—we are still “on the clock,” even if we are not physically on property. So the challenge is keeping all of the balls in the air and giving each the proper amount of attention.

This industry understands the importance of family—maybe better than most. Families visit our parks, our FECs, our zoos, etc. So, to the extent that we can continue to offer employees a level of flexibility and encourage them to go on vacation and recharge their batteries, and give them time off when a child or an aging parent is ill, I think we send the right message. In the 24/7 world we live in, we are never more than a click away, and that around-the-clock access can sometimes make it difficult to focus on other areas of life. It is important for all businesses, not just the attractions industry, to foster a workplace that values family. That is certainly the case at Six Flags.

How have you seen the industry evolve in regard to gender roles?

I see women in key positions throughout our industry and we will continue to see that. This is a dynamic industry that attracts equally dynamic professional women. We have so many successful women in our director and manager roles across all parks who work to run our business every day and deliver a great experience for our guests. Our company’s senior vice president of human resources is female. One of our most successful parks and the only 365-day-a-year park in our system—Six Flags Magic Mountain—is led by a woman. Women play a vital role in the success of this industry.

How have you built your network of women in the industry?
IAAPA has been a big part of helping women in the industry form friendships and build a network of support. I know we all look forward to the annual Expo to reconnect with one another in person and the ongoing support that we offer each other is invaluable.

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

This career path is unlike any you’ve ever had, or will ever have. It is equally the hardest and best job you will ever have the pleasure of doing.

Creating Careers of Distinction

How do you invest in yourself as a leader?
I am an avid reader. I try hard to stay abreast of the world around me because, in this industry, it is important to understand what motivates and what’s important to them. People drive our business both internally and externally.

What is your most cherished work principle?

Treat people with respect. Listen and learn. Strive to be the best version of yourself.

What do you consider your most significant career accomplishment?

Joining Six Flags in 2001 and growing with the company over the past 17 ½ years. 

What has been the greatest challenge of your career?

Certainly when my girls (now ages 26 and 22) were young and I was a full-time professional were challenging years, just like they are for working moms and dads everywhere.  I don’t think you “overcome,” you just put one foot in front of the other every day and work very hard to be an involved parent and raise your children while also contributing value to your company. I empathize with my colleagues who are young mothers as I have walked in those shoes.

What was the greatest piece of career advice you ever received?
“Sometimes you have to pull up and look at the big picture and take it all in.”

The Future of the Industry

Why did you join and choose to stay in the attractions business?
 Well, the industry sort of chose me. I was working in television before starting in public relations at Six Flags Over Texas back in 2000; almost 18 years later, I’ve stayed because I love what I do. There is no other industry like this one. I have the privilege of working alongside fun, creative, dedicated people who inspire me daily. 

What makes you most passionate about the industry?
The very foundation—the very core of this industry—is about making people happy. That’s our job. That’s why we come to work every day … to make teens and tweens, moms and dads, young adults and grandparents alike smile, laugh out loud, scream with excitement, and create shared experiences they will cherish forever. I don’t think it gets much better than that.


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

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