• All-new podcast provides direct access to the company’s leaders from around the world
  • Released on International Women’s Day 2023, the first episode includes an interview with Fiona Eastwood, Chief Operating Officer for Midway and Resort Theme Parks
  • Episodes will include leaders sharing their experiences and leadership journeys in the world’s second largest location-based entertainment company

Merlin has today launched a new global podcast: Merlin Leadership Unplugged. Created with the ambition to share the real and authentic stories and experience of Merlin’s leaders around the world, the episodes are set to include leaders at different levels across the business, from team leaders to directors and executives.

The new podcast will be ‘in conversation with’ style as each leader shares inspiring stories from across their lives and how their experience has developed them to their achievements today, with the aim to support the message that everyone can become be a leader if they want to.

Available on public streaming platforms including YouTube and Spotify, the podcast’s first episode has been released to mark International Women’s Day 2023, with an interview with Merlin’s most senior female leader, Fiona Eastwood, Chief Operating Officer for Midway and Resort Theme Parks, celebrating her experience, journey and achievements to date.

Eastwood is the company’s executive lead for Inclusivity and Diversity, championing representation across the business and the nurturing of diverse talent. Alongside her inclusion leadership, Fiona has been instrumental in the expansion of Merlin’s Midway portfolio, overseeing more than 125 attractions across 23 different countries across the globe, including stellar brands such as SEA LIFE and Madame Tussauds, with her attractions totalling over 8000 total employees.

In the episode, Fiona speaks about her experience of leadership, including why being your authentic self is really important, what authenticity means to her as a leader, why she isn’t a fan of rules and the importance of working together using collective team brainpower and engaging in healthy debate to build solutions.

Fiona also shares anecdotes and stories from her time at the BBC, including what happened when she didn’t get the job she wanted and how that helped shape where she is today, as well as her advice in career development, including her mentoring approach, the importance of communication and the idea of each person becoming the Sales Director for their own skill set.

The podcast also covers Fiona’s interests outside of work which help her get the best out of each day, including cooking, theatre visits and dog walking – plus not forgetting what kind of dogs she has!

Having recently been promoted to include Resort Theme Parks alongside her remit as Chief Operating Officer for Midway attractions, Eastwood’s promotion has been one of a host of senior female appointments across Merlin in the last three months, including:

  • Susan Ang has been appointed as Divisional Director for Merlin’s Midway attractions in APAC, promoted from her role as Regional Director for Midway Asia and with over 25 years of experience in the Asia tourism industry.
  • Alton Towers Resort have announced the appointment of Bianca Sammut as Divisional Director. Bianca joins Merlin following various senior roles within the tourism industry including as Head of Yas Island Theme Parks, and was also named on Blooloop Top 50 Global Theme Park Influencers List in both 2020 and 2021.

“International Women’s Day marks a celebratory approach to everything that women have achieved, and still need to achieve. It’s a time to celebrate women, what women can do and are capable of doing, whilst also highlighting how far we've still got to go in terms of equity and parity. We know women and all individuals need to see themselves represented at the top of organisations, so we’ve created the new Merlin Leadership Unplugged podcast as one way of connecting people with the stories and experiences of our diverse range of Merlin leaders around the world, from on-site teams to executives. We are committed to holding ourselves accountable to change all year round and driving real actions in this space, and its my ambition for the future that International Women's Day won't need to exist: because we won't need to mark it, as equity should just be the norm.”

Fiona Eastwood Chief Operating Officer, Midway and Resort Theme Parks

“Everyone matters at Merlin, and that means we want everyone to feel that they are represented in the stories they hear from our leaders. Merlin Leadership Unplugged harnesses the important role of our leaders to inspire the next generation, to encourage them to chase their dreams with the conviction that everyone has the potential to be a leader. Leadership roles are unique and achievable by all – and we hope by sharing the stories of our leaders we can help inspire, nurture and enable leaders of the future.”

Ioanna Pappa Group Head of Leadership Development