SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby leaves abruptly

  • After less than three years in the position
  • Praise for Manby
  • John Reilly taking over in the interim
  • Search for a successor
  • Manby made a lengthy statement and said 71 words

(exechange) — Orlando, Florida, February 27, 2018 — Joel Manby, chief executive of SeaWorld, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, Joel K. Manby has left his post as Chief Executive Officer at the amusement park company after less than three years in the position, effective February 26, 2018.

No company wants a CEO to flame out in the first years.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 9.2 years, according to data compiled by exechange. Only 20 percent of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months left the position within three years.

Manby’s move comes five months after Yoshikazu Maruyama took over as Chairman of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

SeaWorld will undertake a search for a successor.

Manby’s duties were taken over in the interim by John T. Reilly, most recently Chief Parks Operations Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

“This is the right time to identify a new CEO as the Company enters its next phase of intensified focus on execution and growth”

A reason for Manby’s sudden departure from the CEO post was not explicitly given. SeaWorld said: “With improving operating and financial performance trends along with substantial progress in enhancing the strategic positioning of the Company’s mission-driven brand, the Company’s Board of Directors and current President and Chief Executive Officer, Joel Manby, agreed that this is the right time to identify a new CEO as the Company enters its next phase of intensified focus on execution and growth.”

Precise information about Manby’s future plans was not immediately available.

“Stepped down”

SeaWorld said: “[C]urrent Chief Parks Operations Officer, John T. Reilly, has become interim CEO succeeding Mr. Manby, who has stepped down.”

SeaWorld further said: “Joel K. Manby has stepped down from his position as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company and from any office at any affiliated entity of SeaWorld and resign as a member of the Company’s Board of Directors … effective February 26, 2018.”

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. since July 2013.

Chaired by Yoshikazu Maruyama

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is chaired by Yoshikazu Maruyama.

He has been a director of the company since June 2017 and became Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the company in October 2017.

In the position of CEO since 2015

Joel K. Manby has been the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a director of the Company since April 2015.

From 2003 to 2015, he served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Herschend Enterprises, the largest family-owned theme park and entertainment company in the United States.

Prior to joining Herschend, Manby spent 20 years in the auto industry in general management and marketing roles, primarily at General Motors in the Saturn and Saab divisions.

Manby served as CEO of Saab Automobile USA from 1996 to 2000. Manby formerly served on the board of directors of Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. and currently serves as a member of the National Advisory Board of The Salvation Army.

Manby received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. from Albion College.

As valedictorian of Albion College, Manby was a Rhodes scholarship finalist.

Current Chairman of the Board Yoshikazu Maruyama – a 22-year veteran of the global theme park and entertainment industry – has become interim Executive Chairman until a permanent CEO is appointed by the Board, at which time Maruyama will resume his position as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

These changes are effective immediately. Manby has agreed to assist the Company to ensure a smooth transition.

At the time of Manby’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer at SeaWorld, David F. D’Alessandro, then interim CEO and then the Company’s Chairman, had said: “The Board of Directors has completed an extensive search process and we are extremely pleased to welcome Joel Manby to SeaWorld Entertainment. Joel has nearly 20 years’ experience and a proven track record with business models very similar to ours – multiple brands and multiple properties in the entertainment and theme park industries. Even in the most challenging business environments, Joel has consistently enhanced the performance of the companies he has led for customers, investors and employees alike. He has the experience and qualifications to lead our Company into the future.”

Read the full story in the exechange report 10.2018 ($).