Scott M. O'Neil

Chief Executive Officer

Scott O’Neil has more than 25 years of experience in leading and managing global sports and entertainment brands.  With a reputation for innovation, an eye for strategic and global brand development and partnerships, and a passion for culture and talent development, O’Neil has stewarded some of the sports and entertainment industry’s most renowned and iconic brands and properties, including the NBA’s New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers; the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, the NHL’s New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils; and the internationally ranked sports and entertainment arenas, Madison Square Garden and Prudential Center. 

His mission to build innovative, inspiring, diverse, socially impactful and high performing businesses and brands earned the organizations under O’Neil’s management acclaim in innovation and culture. He recently published a life leadership book entitled, ‘Be Where Your Feet Are’ published St. Martins Press.

O’Neil earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Villanova University, and his master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He has been married for 26 years to wife Lisa, with whom he has three daughters.

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Matt Jowett

Chief Corporate Officer

Matt was appointed Chief Corporate Officer in August 2020. Leading the Group’s governance, compliance and legal matters, he is also responsible for Corporate Affairs, HR, Property and Health and Safety on the Executive Committee. Matt was previously Merlin’s Group General Counsel and Company Secretary.

Matt has held a number of Executive Committee roles within publicly listed companies including General Counsel and Company Secretary at DS Smith PLC, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary of VT Group plc and Group General Counsel of RMC Group plc. He began his career at law firm Linklaters.

Fiona Eastwood

Chief Operating Officer, Gateway Attractions & Resort Theme Parks

Fiona Eastwood is Chief Operating Officer of Merlin’s Gateway attractions encompassing the existing Gateway estate, new openings and franchise operations, and Merlin's Resort Theme Parks, both across the UK including Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Warwick Castle; as well as in Europe, including Gardaland in Italy and Heide Park in Germany.

Fiona was previously Managing Director, Gateway Attractions a role to which Fiona was appointed in 2019, following a period as Managing Director, Resort Theme Parks. In 2015, Fiona joined Merlin as Global Marketing Director, Gateway Attractions, responsible for driving all aspects of brand strategy and marketing across a global portfolio of Gateway brands.

Fiona joined from BBC Worldwide, where she was responsible for strategic planning, brand management, market research, ancillary revenues and branded partnerships across Nordics, CEMA, Asia and Latin America. Previously, she held roles as Managing Director, Consumer Products and Commercial Director for one of the BBC’s biggest international brands, Doctor Who.

John Jakobsen

Chief Operating Officer, LEGOLAND Resorts Group

John heads up the LEGOLAND® Resorts Group in Merlin Entertainments and is responsible for all new and existing LEGOLAND Resorts globally, supporting Merlin’s dynamic growth plans. John oversees the management of Merlin’s 10 LEGOLAND® Resorts across the globe, as well as the Development Pipeline of new LEGOLAND Resorts, including the new Resorts coming soon to China.

Prior to running the global LEGOLAND Resorts operation, John was Merlin’s Chief New Openings Officer, responsible for all new attraction openings and the integration of acquisitions. Having joined Merlin’s Senior Management Team as part of the acquisition of LEGOLAND Parks in 2005, John oversaw both the continued development of the Group's existing LEGOLAND Parks into successful Short Break Resorts for families with young children; alongside the identification and planning for new LEGOLAND Parks around the world including the opening of LEGOLAND Resorts in Germany, Malaysia, Dubai, Florida, Japan, New York and Korea. 

Prior to Merlin, John started his career at the LEGO® Group following a business degree, and subsequently took on the challenge to expand the LEGOLAND franchise outside of its homeland in Denmark. Having first worked on projects in the UK (LEGOLAND Windsor opened in 1996), he project managed the first US LEGOLAND Park, based in California; before moving into general park management first in Germany and then back in California.

Paul Moreton

Chief Development Officer

Paul Moreton has over thirty years of experience in the attractions and TV industry, ranging from strategic through to commercial and creative positions. Having started his career selling balloons at Alton Towers in 1991, Paul went on to head up Marketing for Madame Tussauds and The London Eye before taking an opportunity at UKTV where he was responsible for the creation of three successful new TV channels.

Paul re-joined Merlin Entertainments in 2012 in the position of Group Creative Director. Paul has been the driving force behind the development of many iconic Merlin attractions, including the global rollout of Madame Tussauds, leading the launch of the New York location.

As Group Creative Director, Paul’s role encompassed the whole Merlin business – all sites and all brands; and he and his team in Merlin Magic Making have been at the heart of Merlin’s development and growth strategy. Paul is actively involved in improving diversity and inclusion within Merlin and in his role as a Board member of the London Youth Games. 

Spencer Holt

Chief Experience & People Officer

Spencer Holt is Merlin’s first Chief Experience & People Officer (CXPO) and started in August 2023. Through this newly created role, Holt is responsible for both the employee journey of Merlin’s 30,000-strong workforce, alongside the guest experience delivered to over 50 million visitors who visit Merlin’s attractions across the globe each year.

An award-winning educator, speaker, podcast host and executive coach, Holt has over 20 years of experience working in global businesses across the pharmaceutical, finance, franchising, and sales industries. After spending 18 years at AstraZeneca leading people and culture for its 70k employees across 62 countries, in roles across Enterprise People Development, Global Academies, and Commercial Innovation, Holt co-founded and was the Chief Learning Officer at the Global Leader Group, a business and people consultancy group focused on helping organisations achieve excellence.

Holt has a Ph.D. in Leadership Development from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and hosts the leadership and professional growth podcast series, ‘Small Things Make A Big Difference’.

Sarah Venning

Chief Digital and Data Officer

Sarah Venning is Merlin’s first Chief Digital and Data Officer, joining the business in September 2023. Through this newly created role, Sarah is responsible for bringing together the key areas in Merlin’s technology, data, and digital capabilities to build a world-class digital strategy and deliver a seamless digital experience for both Merlin’s guests to over 140 attractions and the 30,000+ team members across the globe.

Prior to joining Merlin, Sarah was Global Chief Digital Officer at Pret A Manger, and has also held senior roles at the John Lewis Partnership and Heathrow Airport. Sarah’s strong career path has given her a rich experience of technology, digital marketing, and commercial management, as well as having particular experience in end-to-end business transformation.

Sarah is passionate about bringing together physical and digital experiences for both guests and employees and is interested in how to harness and build a strong sense of belonging and inclusion through harnessing powerful data.

Linda Zou

Chief Strategy Officer

Linda Zou was appointed as Chief Strategy Officer in 2024. She leads the development and execution of Merlin's strategic vision and priorities, and spearheads key initiatives to drive the continued growth of Merlin’s strong brand portfolio.

Prior to Merlin, Linda was a Managing Director and Partner at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where she worked with leading retailers and travel companies in Europe, Asia, and Africa on strategy development, commercial transformations, proposition design, and AI and advanced analytics. Prior to BCG, Linda was a public sector consultant and set up large-scale health programs in developing countries.

Karim Hajjar

Chief Financial Officer

Karim Hajjar was appointed Chief Financial Officer at Merlin Entertainments in 2024.  He has over three decades of financial experience and will collaborate closely with the Executive leadership team to sustain and enhance Merlin's financial performance while propelling growth across its diverse international brand portfolio.

During his 10 years as Group Chief Financial Officer of Belgian chemicals company, Solvay, Karim was an instrumental member of the leadership that spearheaded record financial performance by structurally improving profitability, cash generation and returns.

Karim has also held various senior positions with Shell and Tarmac Group, with deep expertise in M&A and capital market transactions, cost and cash management strategies, and investor relations on strategic topics including ESG integration.

Karim’s career commenced at Grant Thornton, where he began as a chartered accountant in London and became one of the firm's youngest Partners.