Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Wharton? Why Now?

Ted Molter is the director of marketing at San Diego Zoo and serves on IAAPA’s Board of Directors and as the chair of the IAAPA Education Committee. In this role, he has become a champion for the IAAPA Institute for Executive Education at the Wharton School.

Knowing that we’re getting close to the holidays, and the Jan. 9 registration deadline, I recently e-mailed with Ted about the Institute to get more information about the program and to find out why you may want to attend.

Here’s an excerpt from our digital conversation:

Heidi: Tell me a little bit about yourself ... what do you do for the San Diego Zoo?
Ted: As director of marketing and a San Diego Zoo executive team member I am responsible for developing and directing collaborative multi-divisional strategic plans. I direct strategic planning and integrated marketing initiatives for a multi-divisional marketing department composed of public relations, publications, web site, advertising and promotions, partnership marketing, licensing, group sales, interpretation, and creative services. Of course this all takes place with the dedicated and successful effort of the 70-member employee team dedicated to sales and marketing.

Together we are responsible for a multimillion-dollar budget designated for marketing the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, and the organization’s conservation communication and awareness efforts. But more important than anything else is our responsibility for the world-famous San Diego Zoo brand.

Heidi: As chair of the IAAPA Education Committee and a board member, you are a big advocate of the IAAPA Executive Education Program at the Wharton School. Why do you believe this program is so important for attractions industry executives? What will they gain from the experience?
Ted: I have had the opportunity to work in this industry for more than 25 years. I started in the operations department at SeaWorld of Ohio parking cars. I worked as a penguin keeper and aquarist before going into public relations for the marine-life park, eventually heading west to market the San Diego Zoo. I feel privileged to have learned about this business coming through the ranks as well as getting an outside education. It has become a career and a job that I truly love.

As we look to the future, and even today stories and experiences like mine are not as common as they once were in our industry. Our businesses are hiring people with experience from other industries. These new managers and executives are a highly significant, necessary part of our future.

The program at Wharton is a tremendous opportunity to put everyone together to cultivate the best of breed for the leadership of our industry. In the two years that I have attended Wharton I definitely learned from the instructors, but I also learned from my peers. There just isn't another option for attractions industry executives to get together and have this experience.

Of course brands really mean something to me, so the reputation of Wharton and IAAPA together is a very significant winning combination. The finest executive education and a global attractions membership network absolutely define future leadership for our industry.

Heidi: Economic times are tough, what makes the Wharton program a good investment?
Ted: Twenty-five years for me, 30 to 40 for some of my industry peers. The economics, trends, and the behavior of consumers are always changing, but the basic need for diversion and escape that attractions provide always remains. Many of us have made long-time commitments to these businesses. Take this opportunity to secure the future. So many investments are uncertain at the moment, but investing in leadership can only result in better business. I may have 25 years of experience in this industry, but I have done my best to make it 25 very different years and not the same year 25 times. To this point it doesn't matter how long you have been in this industry or some other, participation in the Wharton program will make your next year of experience new.

Heidi: What is the most intriguing part of this year's curriculum?
Ted: IAAPA is fortunate to have a partner in the Wharton School. They customize the curriculum to be attraction-industry focused and very relevant to our business. This year, the curriculum will focus on decision making and strategic planning, with an emphasis on balancing strategy and execution.

About the IAAPA Institute for Executive Education: As the premier professional development program for attractions industry leaders, the program has graduated more than 200 executives from 30 different countries. The program is designed for CEOs, general managers, owners, department heads, and directors to share their experiences with other industry leader and discover how to maximize global trends and opportunities.

For an application, click here!
Contact Linda Gerson at +1 703/299-5768 or for additional information.

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