FroleStacy



Stacy Frole is Vice President, Investor Relations for Cedar Fair in Sandusky, Ohio. She has spent 15 years with the company. "We are beginning to see more women in leadership positions and more women placed on the board of directors. The conversations around diversity in general and the inclusion of women are becoming more intentional," she says. "It is great to see both men and women who are in positions of authority assert their influence intentionally to help others and further expand the diversity of our leadership teams. Just to be willing to have the tough conversations is a great start." 


 
 

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?
Unconscious bias. This is a social stereotype people form about certain groups of people outside of their own conscious awareness. We all have them, but women face a unique set of challenges in this area. One common stereotype is that men “take charge” and women “take care,” which can prevent women from moving up into leadership positions.
As leaders, we need to recognize that there is an unconscious bias. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Who are our “go-to” people at work? Is it a diverse group? Are you looking broadly and deeply for talent? Are women included in the informal activities and socializing that is also important for advancement? In the daily grind of the attractions industry, some of these questions can sometimes get lost.


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

I have taken deliberate steps to invite other women to lunch, talk on the phone, or walk the park to get to know them better. I have also broadened my network of women outside of the industry by joining a non-profit board and other associations that include women I see as role models and potential mentors. This has been extremely helpful for me both in broadening my understanding of the industry as well as learning how to become more productive and stay balanced at work and at home.


What is one piece of advice you’d like to convey to women starting their attractions careers?
I was told early on in my career: “Don’t be afraid to ask for it.” (Of course, you also have to be willing to accept “No” as an answer). Identify a career path you would like to take and then be deliberate in your actions. Ask someone to be your mentor or ask an influential individual internally to be your sponsor. You will be surprised by the people who are willing to help you when you make your interests known. Having another individual internally invested in your success, as well, can be a great benefit in accelerating your career path. Of course, this all must be followed by patience and hard work.


Creating Careers of Distinction


How do you invest in yourself as a leader?
Over the past few years I have intentionally made time for my own development, whether it is attending a conference, seminar, or simply networking with others. I never want to stop learning or being challenged. I’m always looking to build relationships with people who have a different job or responsibilities than me, come from a different background, or simply have a different way of thinking. I find this helps both of us to look at problems differently and identify new and innovative ways to solve them.  

What is your most cherished work principle?
Integrity. Honesty and trust are central to everything we do as an industry and this is one area that I will never compromise.  

What do you consider your most significant career accomplishment?
I had the opportunity to be part of Cedar Fair’s acquisition team for the Paramount Park acquisition in 2006.  This transaction truly transformed Cedar Fair.  It doubled our size and really allowed us to broaden the guest experience at all of our parks. It wasn’t easy, but I can’t imagine what Cedar Fair would be like today without it.

What has had the greatest impact on your career?
In 2010 Cedar Fair was almost sold to a private equity investor. During this time we had an activist investor aggressively buying our units, we had a long-time CEO retiring, we experienced a complete transition of our executive team, and we added new members to our board. Our operations remained strong, but all of this change brought about a lot of noise and distractions.  These events were not easy (seems to be a pattern here) but they were also the most impactful in moving my career forward. It gave me the opportunity to show what I could accomplish under significant pressure. I was forced to be strategic and decisive and it made me a stronger person and leader because of it.

What has been the greatest challenge of your career?
Work-life balance. Some of the most challenging times in Cedar Fair’s history were also at the same time I was starting a family. It was hard to find another married woman with children who was experiencing the same challenges and stresses that I found myself facing. For several years I felt that I was failing at work and at home and didn’t know what to do. I had lost confidence in myself and who I was as a person. It was during this time that I met a very strong woman outside of the industry who instantly became a mentor to me. She simply listened to me and understood the challenges I was facing. She helped me understand the importance of building my own brand and knowing who I was and who I wanted to be. This allowed me to prioritize my time and identify what I wanted out of my own career and my personal life. I began to intentionally carve out time to do something I enjoy and I became a better person both at home and at work for it. Of course, having a strong partner at home who supported me through everything, encouraged me to never give up and fight my way through these challenges also helped me overcome my obstacles.

What was the greatest piece of career advice you ever received?

To be deliberate about your career. Take the middle seat, gain exposure to all areas of the business, be vocal about your ambitions and make the tough decisions.

The Future of the Industry


Why did you join and choose to stay in the attractions business?
I grew up going to Cedar Point before I moved away for college. I never imagined I would have the opportunity to move back home and work at a place I had fond memories of as a kid. The opportunity to work for a company whose total focus is on making people happy and giving them the “Best Day” experience is a wonderful thing to be part of. It’s a lot of hard work, but the end result is worth it. Plus, I don’t think my children would allow me to leave at this point in time. They enjoy helping with the “research” too much!

What makes you most passionate about the industry?

The people. I enjoy visiting our parks and meeting with our associates at all levels. Their passion for this industry and the overall guest experience is infectious. There’s a reason that once people are part of this industry they never leave.

What is your vision for the industry in the next 20 years?
To see more women in leadership positions throughout all aspects of the organization. I hope to see the percentage of women in the IAAPA Hall of Fame increase over the next 20 years as we take a more intentional approach to mentoring and sponsoring women in the attractions industry.


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

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