Women In Industry - March 2018

SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN

Bonnie Sherman Weber (right of Superman) and her team at Six Flags Magic Mountain. (Credit: SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN

Team First

Six Flags Magic Mountain’s first female park president shares her thoughts on leadership

Bonnie Sherman Weber’s career has the circular route familiar to many in the industry: what started as a summer job at Six Flags Magic Mountain grew into a leadership position decades later. The first woman to serve as park president of the Santa Clarita, California, attraction, Weber now recognizes her role in continuing the circle for others. 

“To me it is all about the team, working together to achieve goals, and, most importantly, to see the growth and development of team members who, in turn, have emerged as amazing and accomplished leaders themselves,” she says. “Just knowing I may have had a small part in someone fulfilling his or her career dreams is what I’d call my greatest accomplishment.”  

And for Weber, the circle keeps getting bigger: she was recently promoted to senior vice president, in-park services, for Six Flags Entertainment Corp.

Work/life balance has been one of the issues women still consistently face in the workplace, and Weber recognizes the impact it can have on her team. “Speaking from personal experience, I passed up several growth opportunities in my career while I was raising my two girls,” she says. “I strive in my work environment to make sure every employee (man or woman) knows they do not have to compromise their career aspirations to raise a family, and that young women today are not as burdened with having to face the choice dilemma. I’m a firm believer in work/life balance and stress this to my team. Not only does it help level the playing field, but also produces more productive and effective leaders.”

Her own career is an example of the impact of invested leadership. She describes leaving marketing to take on the role of park president as one of the greatest challenges of her career—with the pressure to succeed when she didn’t resemble any of her predecessors. “My angst was tempered by two sage pieces of advice,” she says. “First from one of my longtime mentors and former park president: ‘Bonnie, I’ve never seen you not succeed at what you set your mind to. Go in with confidence, never let them see you sweat, and know I’ll always be here in the wings if you need me.’ He knew me well.”

And when it came to filling the traditionally male role of park president, it was a colleague and friend who offered memorable advice: “She gave me an entirely new perspective that changed my thinking forever when she said to me, ‘You will never be them! You will be you! The position does not define the person; rather the person defines the position. Be authentic, and be YOU!’ That I did. I changed my thinking and approach and have been ‘me’ ever since.”

Weber’s two core career principles are directly influenced by her team, in fact. “First, it’s all about creating the environment for teams and individuals to excel,” she says. “Surround yourself with the best, and then empower them to deliver. I’m so fortunate to have an amazing team at Six Flags—truly one of the best in our industry. It gives me the greatest sense of pride to see the collaboration and teamwork, the concept of more minds and transparent opinions leading to greater outcomes. Second is a very simple principle most of us learned at a very young age: The Golden Rule, treating others as one would wish to be treated. Imagine our world today if everyone on Earth was a steadfast practitioner.”