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Interview: Mr. Ferrari World
Andy Keeling has the job we all want: managing the world’s first Ferrari theme park. He tells Kipp what’s in store, what goes into it, and why he loves it so much.
October 7, 2010 3:44 by Samuel Potter
Tell us about staffing. How many do you have, and where are they from?
We have approximately 850 in our team. The reason we are such a large team, is we do all the facility management, from cleaning up, ourselves. We’re a self-contained unit, whereas many companies outsource. We also do our own maintenance of rides, and we run safety checks daily. Monthly we have more in depth safety checks, an every year of course. We do everything ourselves, that’s why the team is so big. The park is open six days a week, but we work seven days a week 24 hours a day.
The basis of our team, the core management team, which comprises 150 to 200 people, is all skilled and experienced people. We’re the first major UAE theme park so our skill and experienced ride operators have come mainly from Europe or America. We’ve got people here now that have opened three of four Disneylands, and other major theme parks. We brought that talent and experience in, and we committed them to training more local talent to be our followers. That’s half the management team, the other half come from local areas, often from hospitality, hotels and water parks. So we have two key elements, people with experience in managing and operating rides, and people from the local leisure community who know the habits and needs of customers here. The core has a nice balance.
Then we have done much of our recruitment for our frontline colleagues from China, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, South Africa, North Africa, India. The typical mix of people you find in the service industry in the region, we have too. We’ve had an introduction to theme parks, specific ride training, restaurant training. In the Italian restaurants we have Italian chefs. It’s a common sense approach to building a mixed work force.
What’s the best thing about this project?
There’s one thing that has struck me about this theme park: Behind every ride, every restaurant, and everything we do in the park there’s a story. Or there’s a specific Ferrari link. And by coming and having a day out you get more than just a fast ride or fun day, there’s something to learn and engage you in every attraction. You don’t always get that. There’s no escaping the fantasy of coming in and owning a Ferrari for the day, driving a Ferrari, being part of the race team. It’s a special mix of Ferrari that has rubbed off on the park.
Do you have the best job in the world?
I think so. I wouldn’t swap with anybody, let’s put it that way.