Tea: Melissa Ruminot | InPark Magazine
TEA’s new president is proud to lead the change.
By Gabrielle Russon
Ten years ago, Melissa Ruminot was a newbie in the entertainment industry. She is now a rock star in the field.
She is a new person (Information as of January 2023) Chair of the International Board of Themed Entertainment Association (TEA)and she is Vice President of Marketing and Customer Development at The Companies of NassalRuminot is only the third woman to lead TEA’s international board in the organization’s 32-year history. At 40, she is also one of the youngest executives. She represents a change in the face of the themed entertainment industry.
“Through her hard work and dedication to learning our business and industry, Melissa has developed into an exceptionally influential figure,” said William P. Nassal, partner of the Nassal’s Company.
Ruminot said she ran for TEA chairman because she wanted to help bring about change. She wants to see the organization continue to deal with the true breadth of the industry. which covers more than theme parks Themed experiences at resorts, zoos, cultural institutions, cruise ships and activating brands in retail to promote new brands are the types of experiences she wants TEA to elevate their support for.
“We have to think more broadly about the genres. of the industries we can serve and the stories we can tell,” says Ruminot. “That’s the change in the industry where I see TEA at its peak. Together we can support that this is greater than just one way of telling a story.”
Life has been hectic, with Nassal’s vice president role sending her on projects around the world, including a president role at TEA, in addition to being a mother of three children (ages 7, 13 and 14). I saw the leader who was also a mother. Go live and take industry leadership positions,” says Ruminot, adding that it sends a message to others: “This is possible. You can do it.”
Colleagues say she has the right personality and mindset to work at TEA. “She works with high integrity. She works under the banner that it’s all about the members. and what she can do to help all of us as members be more successful in our work. and help our company grow,” he said. Roberta PerryTEA’s founding member, who served as president from 1995-1996 (and the organization’s first female president), “she was the right president at the right time.
Missing woman on the podium
For TEA, diversity has become an issue. As the organization has taken a deeper look in the past year on how to better represent its members. Steps are being taken to drive greater inclusion and better representation. TEA approves a new strategic plan that adjusts the core values that guide the organization to the importance of diversity. and an overall advanced strategy for associations – applied when deciding to represent an industry or thought leadership group and sessions developed by TEA. The association also encourages members from diverse backgrounds and industry perspectives to step up and Seek leadership roles when organizing elections
TEA’s Executive Director, Lindsey Nelson, notes that TEA does not keep track of how many members women and men have. Since trade associations are associated with companies not an individual member personally Perry sees a 50-50 split between men and women at various events. But clearly no women make the podium if only three women have served as president for more than three decades (Christine Kerr is TEA’s second female president, serving during 2013). -2014)
“We talked a lot about variety“Traditionally, people enter this industry with degrees in areas such as architecture, interior design, film, theatrical craftsmanship, engineering or construction management,” said Ruminot in construction-heavy fields and technology such as theme entertainment, leadership. The upper class tends to gravitate towards the upper middle class. This is because people from diverse backgrounds often face barriers to accessing affordable higher education. It is a systemic problem that many other industries face as well. Unique themed entertainment in this challenge.
Ruminot sees one possible solution: finding a way to reach the next generation while they are middle and high school students. To allow them to experience the potential of a career in the entertainment theme. Educate them about the opportunities available in the industry and help create a more diverse future workforce.
“How can you innovate if you always have the same voice trying to innovate? You have to have multiple perspectives,” says Ruminot. “So what do you do? You have to look at other ways and other ways you get people into the workforce to join this industry or know about it.”
Still, Ruminot has already seen the changes taking place. As more and more women are being promoted to senior positions at each company. This is the class in which candidates for the TEA chair can appear. “Women are increasingly recognized as part of leadership teams and for their expertise. It was a pleasure to see,” says Ruminot. More and more women like Ruminot are volunteering to step into high-profile roles at TEA.
“There are so many facets of women in leadership who stand up and say, ‘I’m willing to do this’ and get a balance between work, life and volunteering,” she said.
The TEA presidency is a heavy workload. Which, Perry said, was a challenge for all members. “There are definitely women who could be elected president. But they have to decide. It’s like working full time,” Perry says. Not every company lays off one employee for one year. You need a company that fully supports you in that role.” Nassal, where Ruminot works, supported TEA early on, says Perry.
Nassal Extra Business
Connecticut Ruminot Studied marketing at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she interned at Six Flags New England in college, doing media buying and marketing. She enjoys going to theme parks on vacation with her kids, but “the amusement park industry was never on my career radar.” Instead, she works in other fields, such as hospitality and finance.
While shopping in Vermont Ruminot spoke to another customer at the hotel’s lobby bar, who turned out to be William P. Nassal“In true Melissa fashion, she owns the room and disarms everyone,” Nassal says, recalling their chance meeting. “Melissa has never met a stranger.”
While Nassal has plenty of advice on Ruminot’s next Florida vacation, he has other ideas too. Ruminot is about to get more than just travel advice. Meet the Nassal team and start a new career with the company in 2012.
“I always thought our introductions reinforced the idea that things were supposed to happen. Melissa had recently made a career change. And we just decided to find someone to drive sales and marketing for our company“I convinced her to meet my business partner in Orlando. And I’m proud to say that more than 10 years later, we’re still working together. And she serves as our vice president of sales and marketing.”
A few days ago, Ruminot led a tour of its 100,000-square-foot former recycling facility near downtown Orlando, where there was plenty of activity. Between the Orlando and Los Angeles plants The company employs 350 people. On tour, CNC machines cut pieces of foam to look like snow. Workers are building a custom, top-secret piece near a no-photo sign in an enclosed space designed to keep theme park bloggers and influencers flying overhead. (This kind of spying actually took place.) Ruminot was often the first person in the room representing Nassal when a client presented a concept and asked the question: Can it build the impossible?
Starting in a new industry where she was unfamiliar with construction or design, Ruminot was eager to learn at Nassal and in the industry in general when she joined TEA. Let her build relationships and expand her knowledge base. “I just completely entered this world. I started asking questions and I thought, ‘Okay, I don’t know what that means. Who’s the right person for me to ask,’” says Ruminot. “Being involved in TEA is a way for me to understand the industry.”
She was elected as TEA’s East North America Board Chair in 2018 and 2019. “It was an opportunity for me to connect directly with the members. I hear every day what members want and need. And can cut the red tape and cut out the politics,” she said.
In addition to TEA, Ruminot serves on the annual meeting planning committee for Association of Zoos and AquariumsAccording to Ruminot, she was the only commercial member on the board, which pushed her outside her core strengths to look at the challenge differently. Since taking care of animals is the highest priority of the organization. She brings that same philosophy to her roles with TEA and Nassal. But her role is a connector, a communicator, someone who “makes sure the right people are talking to the right people and asking the right questions.”
Roberta Perry is confident that Ruminot’s past experience in TEA will make her a successful president. “She has an amazing ability to interact with her ability to communicate. to get people to say, ‘Hey, I’ll help you,’” Perry says. “It’s all about the relationship.
It’s all about connection” • • •
Gabriel Russon ([email protected]) is a freelance journalist living in Orlando. Previously, she oversaw the theme park business for the Orlando Sentinel, receiving numerous state and regional honors for her coverage of theme park injuries. Economic Challenges Facing Theme Park Employees and the impact of the epidemic on the tourism industry. She is a native of Michigan. She graduated from Michigan State University. and has worked at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth during her newspaper career. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting theme parks in Orlando and running marathons.