On Monday, April 28, Andrew Wexler, CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, spoke to aspiring theme park leaders at Rosen College as a guest of The Future Theme Park Leaders Association. The room was filled with a variety of students pursuing careers in theme parks, computer science, engineering and business, hailing from as far as Dubai. With the recent launch of Rosen College’s Bachelor’s degree in Entertainment Management, Wexler’s words provided timely, valuable insight on executive level leadership in the entertainment industry.

Wexler was appointed CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment in March 2015. Prior to this, he was the company’s chief financial officer for eight years. He told the audience that as CFO of the company, he jokingly referred to himself as “The CF-No” because while outstanding guest and employee experiences are vital, the company must also be financially secure. As CEO, his role has dramatically changed and he now refers to himself as the “Chief Encouraging Officer.”

“I truly believe the more opportunities we give people to respect and love each other, the happier this world will be,” said Wexler.

While reflecting on his career path, Wexler emphasized three pieces of advice for young professionals:

1. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to be CEO by 24.

2. Integrity cannot be taken, only lost. There’s only one person in the world who can take your integrity and that’s you.

3. Focus on your purpose, your why. Great leaders have one thing in common; they don’t focus on what they’re doing, but why they’re doing it. Once you know why you’re doing what you do, it gives it purpose.

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