Meet David Mandt, Chief Engagement Officer and Executive Vice President
David Mandt’s career in the attractions industry started in the most unlikely of places: a high school classroom. “I had recently moved to North Carolina,” he says. “Sitting in Spanish class, I asked my classmate, ‘What do you do for a summer job around here?’ He said, ‘I work at Carowinds.’ And I said, ‘What’s a Carowinds?’”
Learning Carowinds was a local amusement park was just the beginning of Mandt’s more than 30-year journey of discovering the breadth and depth of the global attractions industry. Mandt went on to hold senior leadership positions at Paramount’s Carowinds and Kings Island in Ohio, Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton – Las Vegas, and Paramount Parks. “I love being in a business where our ‘product’ is making people happy—it’s seeing families of multiple generations get together and not worry about their jobs, bills, and schoolwork,” he says. “The reward is so immediate by watching the reactions on our guests’ faces. I love this industry because that’s the deliverable.”
In 2006, Mandt joined the IAAPA team, where he has overseen marketing and communications strategy and plans for IAAPA Expos, crisis and executive communications, and the recent three-year, member-driven rebrand as senior vice president, marketing and communications.
The role Mandt takes on is new to him and the organization. He will oversee member engagement and the global headquarters teams for marketing, communications, and education. The main goal of the position is to examine the needs and wants of members and focus on how the association can better provide resources and services to match. “We just celebrated our 100th anniversary. When you stop to think about that, how many organizations have been around for 100 years? That in and of itself is an amazing testament to the organization. I’m in awe of the leaders and the staff team that have run IAAPA for more than 100 years and what they’ve accomplished,” he says. “The world is changing faster than ever. The challenge, as we look to the future, is how do we, the IAAPA of 2020 and 2025 and 2030, make sure we’re the indispensable resource for our members.”
Mandt sees IAAPA’s future hinging on the current strategic plan and its cornerstones of being brave, nimble, and connected. “We want to be brave in how we defend and support the industry. We want to do everything we can to help our members connect with each other and the resources they need. And, we need to be nimble because the world is changing so fast. We’ve got to be able to move quickly when the circumstances warrant it. My hope is that five years from now we’ll be moving down those paths successfully,” he says.
In his early years with IAAPA, Mandt discovered the truly global nature of the industry, and now he looks forward to learning even more about how to deliver on the needs of this diverse membership. To do that, he encourages members to reach out. “Communicate with us. If there’s something you think the association should do or needs, send us an e-mail, pick up the phone,” he says. “We have team members around the world who are anxious to serve you, so if you have ideas help us know what those are—the more communication we have from our members, the better we’ll be able to address your needs, concerns, and opportunities.”