2017 EAS

Young Professionals Forum

Young Professionals Forum

Date:    Wednesday, 21 September 2016 
Time:    18:00 - 19:30
Fee:     €35 (IAAPA-Members) 
     €50 (Non Members) 
 Location.     Fira Barcelona Gran Via Convention Centre

Learn, Share, and Connect! Do’s and Don’ts

Join special industry guests and a panel of established young professionals to learn tips for successful networking, receive advice on how to stand out at work, and explore details of some industry specialties. Regardless of where you are on your career path take advantage of this opportunity to share experiences. Take with you great peer-to-peer learning and add value in your current and future roles.

The four topics that will be covered in in the education session are:

  1. Networking Do's & Don'ts 
  2. Career Progression Tips
  3. Current Challenges
  4. Future Developments

The Young Professionals Forum is being concluded with a reception at a nearby hotel location.
Young Professionals can compete for the Young Professional Award.


Supporting Organization

Ripley Entertainment Inc.


Ash Smart will be the host and moderator for this session.




Ashley Smart
Ash Smart, Deputy Managing Director Harbour Park, UK

Ash Smart is managing Harbour Park beachside amusement park in the UK. Ash has worked at his family’s attraction businesses from an early age which have involved a touring Big Top show, seaside pier and amusement park. After gaining experience outside the Industry in administration and accounts, he came back to facility operations and became a company director in late 2010. Ash holds a BA and MA degree, the latter in International Security from King’s College, London. He obtained IAAPA Certified Attractions Executive status in 2015 and is currently chairman of IAAPA’s Young Professionals Membership Work Group. Ash also is a member of IAAPA’s Global Membership Committee and Hall of Fame Awards Committee.

Neva Heaston, Director Revenue Operations Wild Wadi Waterpark, Dubaï, U.A.E

Neva has been working in the Waterpark Industry for 17 years. She began her career at Wild Island Family Adventure Park in Sparks, Nevada in 1999. In 2007, Neva graduated from the University of Nevada Reno with a degree in International Business and was accepted into the Jumeirah Hotel and Resorts Management Trainee Program in Dubai, UAE. In 2008, she joined Wild Wadi Waterpark as a Business Analyst and was promoted to Business Excellence Manager in 2011. Currently, Neva is the Director of Revenue Operations and leads the Admissions, Food and Beverage, and Retail Departments at Wild Wadi Waterpark. She lends her talents of leading a multinational and diverse group of colleagues to excel in both operational efficiency and financial performance.  As a proud member of IAAPA and an industry “Lifer”, she enjoys meeting new people and inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in theme parks and leisure.

Jakob Wahl, Director of Communications, EuropaPark, Germany
(member of the Iaapa Emea Education sub-committee)

Jakob Wahl is Director of Communications at Europa-Park, Germany, the world’s largest seasonal theme park. He also works closely with the Mack family, owner of Mack Rides and creator of the park, a family-owned business. Jakob is involved in the daily operations of the park but also in the current development of the Europa-Park resort. Beforehand, he was Programme Manager for IAAPA Europe working in the Brussels office.


Jeroen Holman
Jeroen Holman, Business Development Manager Vekoma, The Netherlands

Jeroen started his career in the themed entertainment industry in 2002, when he, as a student, joined the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam as a tour guide. After meeting BRC Imagination Arts there, he joined them in 2008 to work as Project Development Manager on great story driven experiences throughout the EMEA region. In 2014 Jeroen joined Vekoma Rides Manufacturing to work dedicated as Business Development Manager on the Media Based Attractions the company offers in an exclusive partnership with Brogent Technologies. Together both companies sell amongst others the highly successful I-ride Panoramic Flying Theatre. Jeroen has worked on projects in theme parks, museums and brand centers throughout Europe. Jeroen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Logistics from HES school of business in Amsterdam and a Master’s Degree in Economics from the Vrije University in Amsterdam.