IAAPA News - Leadership - November 2018

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Ready to Serve

IAAPA names Hal McEvoy, ICAE, president and CEO

by Prasana William

Ask Hal McEvoy, ICAE, about any phase of his 43-year career in the industry and he’ll circle back to the same story: at the end of the day, it’s about helping others. Whether learning guest service right after college at Busch Gardens Tampa or sharing ideas with the chairman of Wanda Group, one of the largest companies in Asia, his approach to leadership has always been firmly rooted in the belief that finding ways to help others  thrive is beneficial to all. Now as the new president and CEO of IAAPA, McEvoy’s objective is to continue the association’s legacy of cooperation and connection to build the foundation for another 100 years of success.

“Hal did an outstanding job as interim president and CEO. His vast industry experience, business acumen, affable leadership style, and his recent experience working with our members and supporting our team around the world make him the ideal president and CEO,” said Hank Salemi, chairman of the IAAPA Compensation Committee and park president, Six Flags Great America. “This is a critical time of transition for IAAPA as we wrap up the relocation of our global headquarters to Orlando, build our new office, hire a number of new team members, and begin to tackle one of the most ambitious strategic plans in our 100-year history. Hal’s steady and thoughtful approach is exactly what we need to ensure the ongoing success of the association.”

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Hal McEvoy and his wife Donna with Allan Zeman, Asian Attractions Expo 2018 Leadership Breakfast keynote speaker

McEvoy started his career in the industry as an accounting clerk at Busch Gardens Tampa in 1976 and had a front row seat to the evolution of the company from themed experiences for the Anheuser-Busch brand to Busch Entertainment Corporation/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. He served in a variety of roles in corporate finance, accounting, financial controls, audit, and operations with the company—working his way up to vice president of finance for Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA and then to corporate vice president of internal audit and compliance for the company.

Though he loved the thrill of working on new park projects from the financial side, it was the contact with guests and staff that motivated him. He took advantage of the park’s programs that allowed leadership to work the front line. “I believed in getting out in the park. It helped me understand the operation better. When we were talking costs, revenue, and finance, it helped to know what the team members out there were going through,” he says. “It’s also a place for you to learn how to serve others—the team you work with and the guests.”

McEvoy prioritized connecting with other professionals in the industry as well and has been an active IAAPA member for more than 20 years. “That’s what’s neat about this industry—it’s not all business, it’s also about the people you meet and stay in touch with,” he says. He became a founding member of the IAAPA Audit Committee in 2005 and served as chair from 2013 to 2017, before becoming chief financial officer of IAAPA. In his time on the committee, he worked on a number of different IAAPA initiatives, including the task force responsible for researching the possibility of moving the association’s global headquarters from Alexandria, Virginia, to Orlando, Florida. 

McEvoy counts it an honor to have had the opportunity to visit members all over the world as CFO and interim president of IAAPA. These experiences inform how he hopes to lead. “As I’ve gone around the world, I’ve learned while cultures are different, we all have the same passion for the industry,” he says. “We want to serve guests with the products we provide. While the nature of the attractions industry is competitive, we are also all people. And across all facets of our business, we assist each other in any way we can because we have a common interest in serving and helping.” 

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McEvoy, the IAAPA leadership team, and members of the Orange County community breaking ground for the new global association headquarters

That common interest is the bedrock of McEvoy’s vision for the future of IAAPA. He comes on board at a time of exciting transition for IAAPA, as the association prepares to open the new global headquarters building and enact a game-changing strategic plan.  Serving members remains at the heart of his goals for the association—including delivering exceptional expos and educational programs and products, and more ways for members to make meaningful connections. McEvoy hopes to build the foundation for the next 100 years of IAAPA, continuing to shape an association that truly helps members help one another.

“I don’t think there’s a limit to what we can do,” he says. “We have so much opportunity to serve our industry. I look forward to working together with the amazing IAAPA team and our members to see how far we can go.”