Thursday, May 6, 2021

Looking forward, WhiteWater redefines leadership team

ABOVE (clockwise from top left): Doug Smith, David Bogdonov, Paul Chutter, Franceen Gonzales

On December 15th, 2020, WhiteWater celebrated its 40th anniversary as it continues to evolve itself and how it helps parks thrive. Like many of the companies in the attractions industry, WhiteWater is a family business, which provides a continuity and focus on sustaining success for future generations. It was the pull of that legacy that brought Paul Chutter to leave behind his successful global banking career more than seven years ago to join his father Geoff at WhiteWater. He started in Sales Operations, getting to know WhiteWater’s clients before becoming the company’s Chief Business Development Office—a period which saw Paul lead record years. As WhiteWater’s CBDO, he has streamlined processes and forged strategic alliances. Having his father’s knack for seeing new opportunities, he was instrumental in bringing WhiteWater’s technology company, Vantage, to market and is a founder of Endless Surf which is already changing the surf pool market just a year from its launch. Now WhiteWater announces that Paul is succeeding his father as President of WhiteWater, while Geoff remains as CEO. Together they will continue to steer WhiteWater forward, shaping future entertainment experiences and supporting clients’ success.

Looking ahead, Paul comments, “What we do, together with our clients, is very significant—we make moments that bring families together, something everyone recognizes and values more than ever after the past year. To be able to work alongside my father and ensure that continues long into the future is a huge responsibility and honour that I’m excited to take on.”

Paul’s first decisions in his new role were focused on the leadership team that will help him forge further ahead and he is pleased to announce some changes. Doug Smith, who has overseen incredible growth within WhiteWater’s Asia Pacific region as the Regional Vice President for the last six years, now steps into the role of Global Head of Sales. Doug brings with him decades of global sales experience spanning Interactives, Adventure Play, Water Rides, and Water Parks and has been an active supporter of the TEA as a board member. Doug is well known and respected within the industry having worked in Europe and North America, as well as in Asia. He will be immersing himself back into the Americas alongside his global responsibilities allowing for Franceen Gonzales to take on a new role within WhiteWater.

Franceen is hugely admired for her work championing safety and as a true advocate for our industry. Franceen’s experience is broad, she understands firsthand the challenges operators face, having held senior operations and strategic development roles with Great Wolf Resorts and Six Flags before joining WhiteWater seven years ago to lead the Americas region. Franceen transferred that client perspective into her team, enabling them to support the development of some of the region’s most exciting projects. As a connected industry leader, she has traveled extensively and is familiar with our customers in many markets. Now she’ll use both her supplier and customer insights to help WhiteWater continue to elevate the customer journey as Chief Experience Officer.

The Asia Pacific leadership role that Doug vacates is passed on to the very experienced hands of David Bogdonov, who knows the region well, having spent eight years as Vice President of Business Development for China, as parks there rapidly expanded, and the industry matured. Before that from 2008 to 2011 he supported sales for the wider Asia region. He has been able to guide park development plans with very sage advice based on his engineering qualifications and large-scale construction project management experience and deep regional insight, making him uniquely positioned to add value to clients.

These changes signal that WhiteWater’s focus is firmly on the future, starting its fifth decade with energy and fresh perspectives. As Geoff explained, “WhiteWater is a powerhouse in our industry because of our talented people, it is with tremendous pride I see Paul step into the role of President and announce these leadership changes. I know that we have the best team in the industry and together we will continue to deliver the very best products and guest experiences possible, working tirelessly to reward the trust our clients place in us.” He concluded, “From the largest entertainment brands to a first-time developer, we partner with our customers, not just to deliver thrilling experiences but to support them with operational insights, safety leadership, and enduring quality—because their success is one with ours.”

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