Paul Noland '81
Paul Noland '81 is the President and CEO at International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, (IAAPA). In the past, Noland has worked for Marriott International and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Noland has served in a variety of strategic and financial roles including work at Disney to plan new projects such as new parks, hotels and other major land marks.
"Now as the CEO of this association, my job is being a leader and a public face. I make sure our members are well represented. Radford University really helped me become a leader. As a student, I was heavily involved and built relationships with the faculty, students and administration. Without the life and leadership skills I learned at RU, I don't think I'd be in the position that I'm in today," says Noland.
Today, Noland continues his relationship with Disney Parks, as well as many other amusement parks. "We are a global organization, since 40 percent of our members are not in the United States. Our members include, Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Six Flags, as well as independent parks, zoos, aquariums, family entertainment centers and water parks," says Noland. IAAPA's job is to represent their members on Capitol Hill. The organization holds education and networking events for members to develop professionally.
"We do three large tradeshows around the world. The one we host in Orlando is by far the largest. With a show floor of 500,000 square feet, if you walked every aisle, it would add up to nine miles," says Noland. "We have 27,000 attendees in one place. It is a week of really good engagement," says Noland. "At all three expos, suppliers and facilities come together to share the latest innovations in our industry. It's the key reason why we exist."
Noland enjoys the opportunities he is exposed to while working for IAAPA. "We get to visit many outstanding parks during the course of a year which provides many opportunities to experience the best of what our industry has to offer. Our members are very proud of their facilities and like to share them and show them off," says Noland.
Being in the amusement park business, Noland experiences family vacations with a different perspective. "Looking at a park with a different eye began when I worked for Disney Parks. I absolutely am still a fan and enjoy the experience, but there is another filter at work. I think about things like guest flow, employees’ interactions with the guest, how facilities are maintained, and 100 other things. But, seeing those operational elements come together well, actually adds to experience; it doesn't lessen it," says Noland.
Many of the tasks Noland completes on a day-to-day basis, reminds him of his days as a student at Radford University. "There are clearly lessons that I take forward with me every day, lessons like leadership and organization," says Noland. "I started off as a journalism major. I had an internship and I realized that I could write. But writing was not something I wanted to do all day every day. Through my activities at Radford, I discovered that I enjoyed business and working as a part of a team," says Noland.
Noland encourages students to really get involved in school. "Have real tangible experience while you are in college. The value of things you are involved in as a student is indescribable," says Noland. "Get involved, get an internship and practice those skills. You will thank yourself in the long run."