Greg Charbeneau – Vice President/General Manager – OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, Arizona
“We have a mantra where we need to focus on financial responsibility, team member morale and guest experience, simultaneously with the same level of priority, and you know that’s almost impossible. It’s like trying to juggle three balls in the air but you’re lifting the three balls at exactly the same time you’re trying to juggle them. It’s a constant struggle… Every day, a decision that I make or I may influence, has an effect in finances, team member morale, and guest experience… every single day.” Greg Charbeneau
Welcome to another episode of MGR Unplugged. Today I’m joined by Greg Charbeneau.
Greg has dedicated his career to the zoological operations, hospitality and entertainment industries, and working at nationally acclaimed aquariums, theme parks and resorts for over 30 years.
Greg is the kind of person who’s not afraid to step out of his comfort zone and face new challenges. Mobility has played a big role in his professional life and with that, he’s held a variety of positions at theme park locations in Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, and the Bahamas where he became the VP of Marine Operations and Marketing at Atlantis Bahamas Resort.
As if that wasn’t enough of a transition, his next challenge took him all the way across the mainland to tackle yet another major challenge and start up the Southwest’s (yes in the middle of the desert) largest public aquarium, including 200,000 square feet, two million gallons of water, 60 exhibits, over 30,000 sea creatures and over 500 species. In his current position as Vice President/General Manager at OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale Arizona, Greg Charbeneau directs and oversees all aspects of the business.
Greg also participates in the development and management of other projects within the company that we also cover towards the end of this show.
Below is a list of questions and topics that we covered during our conversation with Greg Charbeneau.
- Let’s start with some of your background first. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Growing up, family, education, etc.
- How about your current family? Wife, children, how do you manage your family life with your professional life?
- What things interested you growing up?
- What made you decide to study Marine Biology? Can you describe briefly what that entails?
- How do you connect Marine Biology with marketing and the business side of the various positions that you’ve held throughout your carreert?
- What’s your average day like these days?
- Tell me about your morning routine. What motivates you in the morning about the day ahead. Do you look forward to it? And if not, what do you do to dig deeper and overcome the slump.
- What are you trying today that is a little bit beyond or outside of your comfort zone? A little bit uncomfortable, uneasy for you?
- Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve decided to “burn the boats.” When it’s sink or swim but there’s no going back.
- Moving on to your current position at OdySea Aquarium, how big of a challenge is to maintain this type of facility in the middle of the desert versus at any other coastal city?
- How unique is the design and construction of the aquarium itself?
- How does OdySea Aquarium get funded or what is the primary source of revenue? Is it primarily from ticket sales, sponsors, corporate events?
- What makes OdySea Aquarium so special apart from the fact that it’s located in the desert?
- How do you develop a mindset that pushes you to pursue what you want to accomplish in your life?
- Are any particular periods of your life, professionally or personality that made you question your own purpose or your own principles?
- Tell me a little bit about Paradise Earth and OdySea in the Desert. How are those projects developing?
- If you could go back 15-20 years in your life, what if anything would you do differently?
- Where do you see yourself in 10-15 years?
“As you can imagine, never two days are alike, there’s so much happening between 20 thousand animals, 70 exhibits, two million gallons of water, intermixed with miles and miles of electrical conduit, anything can happen on any given day!”
OdySea Aquarium VIP Room where we recorded his interview for MGR Unplugged.