Edit ModuleShow Tags

Celebrating Women: Marilyn Hannes

Meet the Park President San Diego of SeaWorld and Aquatica


Published:

Photo by Jennifer Siegwart

When did you join SeaWorld?

I began my career with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment as director of travel industry sales for SeaWorld San Diego 19 years ago.

Have you always been in the tourism business?

Prior to joining SeaWorld, I was a hotel executive for 20 years.

What is the history of SeaWorld?

We are 53 years old and have 12 parks around the country. The company went public in 2013 and is governed by a board of directors. I was promoted to park president San Diego in April 2016, and I’m the first woman to hold that position.

Do you have a family?

Yes, I have five children. I was in San Diego while they were growing up, then I spent a year in the corporate office in Orlando. When I became president here, it was like coming home. The timing was perfect to relocate with my husband, Phil, and my youngest son, Brandon. This is my dream job. I had asked several times if it would be possible for a marketing woman to become park president.

What challenges have you faced coming into this role?

We’re moving forward as a brand in this new time. We need to do a better job of telling our story. We’re a purpose-driven park caring about animals and doing rescue, research, and conservation. It’s a very exciting time, and we’re giving our ambassadors an opportunity to deliver experiences that matter.

How do you see the future of the park?

Our cornerstone is our Ocean Explorer attraction with new species in the Park, and the new Orca presentation is the Orca Encounter.

What does SeaWorld do to give back?

It was a rare instance in which the nonprofit, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, opened before the for-profit, SeaWorld. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund was founded in 2003 and has granted $14 million in support of animal rescue and research, education, and conservation projects. SeaWorld San Diego provides donations to assist many nonprofit charitable organizations and schools. We target causes that specifically benefit environmental protection and conservation programs as well as underserved youth.

How do you overcome obstacles?

Turn them into opportunities. I do mini seminars outside and inside SeaWorld. Mentoring is a personal passion of mine. I share common-sense, practical tips on how you can make progress in your career.

Who was your mentor?

I’ve had a whole stream of mentors who taught me and coached me along the way. Many hotel general managers, and Bill Thomas, who was a vice president of marketing for 29 years, were all mentors.

What does the future hold for you?

I just finally got my dream job and I really believe in my company. We have a great turnaround story for SeaWorld San Diego and our other 11 parks, and I’m excited to be moving forward.

Do you have any advice for others?

Follow your passion and build strong teams based on trust and collaboration. Focus on your work ethic—it can help you stand out in a crowd.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Letter from the Editor: San Diego Is for Animal Lovers

Editor in Chief Erin Meanley Glenny dishes on the July issue of San Diego Magazine

Meet the Tastemaker: John Resnick

The owner of Carlsbad's Campfire restaurant shares his must-have items

Celebrating Women: A Q&A With Broadway/San Diego's Vanessa Davis

The new general manager of Broadway/San Diego on the power of speaking out and what theater can do for young people
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Best Burgers in San Diego
    These burgers are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best in San Diego
  2. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2018
    Dig into the 260 winners defining San Diego’s food scene in 2018
  3. The Best of North County 2018
    Our annual list of what we’re loving above the 56, from bites and brews to shopping, wellness, and arts and kids’ activities galore
  4. Your 2018 San Diego Summer Bucket List
    Here’s our insider’s guide for Memorial Day through Labor Day
  5. The Coolest Things Happening in San Diego Beer Right Now
    A dive into the new, notable, and lesser-known in our city’s beer scene
  6. San Diego's Best Restaurant of 2018: The Finalists
    San Diego Magazine's Best Restaurants issue comes out in June. Here are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best of the best.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags