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Former Starwood executive Sergio Rivera named new CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

November 7, 2019 — SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. today announced the appointment of Sergio (Serge) D. Rivera to the position of Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors, effective November 11, 2019. The Company also announced today that Neha Jogani Narang will be appointed to its Board of Directors, effective November 11, 2019. These appointments will increase the size of the Board of Directors to nine members.

Mr. Rivera previously served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of ILG, Inc.’s Vacation Ownership Segment, where he was responsible for development, sales, marketing and resort operations. Prior to ILG, Mr. Rivera was the President of the Americas for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and was responsible for the performance and growth of Starwood’s brands and its owned, managed and franchised businesses in North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Polynesia.

“Serge has a strong track record as a leader and operator in the hospitality and leisure industries,” said Scott Ross, Chairman of the Board of Directors of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “Serge brings to SeaWorld exceptional leadership and management skills across sales, marketing, operations, development, finance and commercial management.” 

Ross continued, “The strategy we have in place for SeaWorld continues to work and we have made good progress. We look forward to Serge’s leadership as we continue to improve and accelerate our execution through enhanced marketing and communications initiatives, more effective pricing strategies, cost and capital efficiencies and the introduction of new and compelling rides, attractions and events across our portfolio.”

Mr. Rivera said, “I am thrilled to join the SeaWorld team. The Company has an exceptional business model, an irreplaceable set of assets and an incredibly talented group of ambassadors who are driving extraordinary service and experiences for our guests. While very strong progress has been made executing against the long-term plan in place, I know that there’s more to do to ensure that the long-term potential of the business is fully unlocked. I look forward to working with this very talented team to further improve our execution and dramatically increase shareholder value.”

Rivera continued, “Importantly, I also want to express how proud I am to join an organization and team that is so committed to the highest standard of animal care and makes enormous and important contributions to conservation, animal rescue, research and education.”

Marc Swanson, who assumed the position of Interim Chief Executive Officer in September 2019, will return to his former role as Chief Financial Officer. Elizabeth Castro Gulacsy, who has been serving as Interim Chief Financial Officer, will return to her former role of Chief Accounting Officer. 

Ross added, “We thank Marc and Elizabeth for their leadership while we conducted our search. We look forward to them working closely with Serge to drive operational excellence across the Company.”

Appointment of Neha Jogani Narang to Board of Directors

The Company also announced today that Neha Jogani Narang will be appointed to its Board of Directors.

Ms. Narang most recently was the director of consumer and developer marketing for Facebook where she led marketing for several businesses from inception, including Mobile App Ads, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Platform, Profile, Pages, Events, and more.

Ross said, “We are extremely excited to have Neha join our Board of Directors. Neha has a unique and highly valuable background in consumer marketing, brand, product, digital media, ecommerce and technology. She brings to our board experience and insights that will ensure our marketing and communication efforts are fully aligned with the current realities of our customer base.”

“I am honored to serve on the SeaWorld Board of Directors,” said Narang. “My family and I are enormous advocates of SeaWorld, its incredible entertainment destinations, and very importantly, its commitment to education and conservation. Prior to joining the board, I spent a lot of time at SeaWorld and was fortunate to meet with the Company’s zoological experts and leaders of the rehabilitation centers. What I found was an organization passionate about the health and well-being of the animals in its care and in educating guests about wildlife. As the marketing and communications functions continue to evolve, I am confident that I can bring to bear my understanding of consumer marketing and technology to help SeaWorld better connect with the communities they serve.”

About Sergio (Serge) Rivera

Mr. Rivera previously served as President and CEO of ILG Vacation Ownership Segment, a leading provider of professionally delivered vacation experiences and the exclusive global licensee for the Hyatt®, Sheraton®, and Westin® brands. Prior to that, he served as the President of the Americas for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, where he was responsible for the performance and growth of Starwood’s brands and businesses in North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Polynesia, which encompassed 700 hotels and 125,000 associates across 23 countries. Mr. Rivera also serves on the Board of Directors for Welltower Inc. (NYSE: WELL), as a member of Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Tourism & Hospitality Management Advisory Board and as a Trustee for The Nature Conservancy’s Florida Chapter. Previously, he served on the Board of Directors of ILG, Inc., the Rosen College of Hospitality Dean’s Advisory Board at the University of Central Florida, the U.S. Travel Association CEO Roundtable and as a Trustee and Board Member of the American Resort Development Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in business administration from Florida International University.

About Neha Jogani Narang

Neha Jogani Narang is a leader in business and consumer marketing, with an expertise in product, partnerships and brand marketing. She has led marketing strategy for brands across multiple industries including commerce, social, payments, CPG, advertising, education and logistics. Ms. Narang advises companies of various sizes on how to structure their marketing organization and prioritize marketing needs. Ms. Narang also serves on the Board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco. Prior to that, Ms. Narang was director of consumer product marketing and global developer marketing for Facebook, where she was responsible for marketing several businesses within Facebook from inception to market leaders, developing a strong community engagement program to reach the Facebook community and leading Facebook’s largest conference, F8.  She earned an M.B.A from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California. 

PHOTO CREDIT: World Travel & Tourism Council

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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