In many ways, business careers resemble amusement park rides. Some are like a roller coaster, with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. Some are like a merry-go-round, just spinning in circles until the music stops. Some are like the towers that pull riders up and then drop them into a free fall.
For Al Weber, his career’s been like a ride on a sky tram—nice and smooth, the view’s great and it’s above the crowd. And that’s where he’s at now. In May, Weber was named president and CEO of Paramount Parks, which owns five of the most popular theme parks in North America, including Kings Island in Cincinnati.
“My favorite part about the job is creating an escape for people,” says Weber. “It’s great to see people walk away invigorated by a day spent with their family and friends. That says a lot about the business.”
Weber began in the business 34 years ago as a ride operator at Cincinnati’s Coney Island, trying to earn money to go to college. He was promoted to supervisor after a year, and rather than quitting to go to school, he kept working. As he made his way up the ladder, he returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in the weekend degree program in 1996 and an M.B.A. in 1997.
“The nice thing about being in the business back then was it was growing,” he says, “so there was a lot of opportunity to advance your career.”
He became general manager of Paramount’s Kings Island, then executive vice president and chief operating officer at Paramount Parks in Charlotte, N.C. As president, he plans on the company continuing to focus on customer service and satisfaction.
“Our relationship with people in the park is really important to us,” he says. “It’s been the hallmark of our success.”