Up Close: Profile of the Manager for Planning & Design
It’s hard to believe Chris Brown, Manager for Planning & Design at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R) has only been with the company for two years, given the impact he’s had. Hershey’s Chocolatetown is the largest expansion in the company’s history, and Chris has been vital in the planning and design process. His passion for this project and sheer joy he exudes is prevalent when talking to him or participating in one of his several weekly tours.
Between Chris’s meetings with contractors and giving tours of Hershey’s Chocolatetown I was able to secure a few minutes of his time. Read on to learn how Disney’s Hollywood Studios led him to HE&R, and why working with students at Milton Hershey School has been one of his greatest rewards.
Interested in a job at Hersheypark and working in Hershey’s Chocolatetown? Join us on Tuesday, March 10 from 3-7 pm at GIANT Center for our job fair. Please visit here for full details.
"Coming from a consulting background where you spend a few hours with a client every few weeks, to now working daily with the teams who create, manage, operate, market, communicate, maintain, finance and build the very environment that makes so many people Hersheypark Happy is truly remarkable."
Q) Tell us about your career. Where did you go to school? What was your career path prior to joining Hershey?
A) I am a 2001 graduate of Penn State (University Park) with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree and a Minor in Geography. After graduation, I spent 16 years at a private consulting firm focused on campus and community planning, design and construction.
Q) Walk us through your career so far at Hershey.
A) I joined the HE&R team in January 2018, jumping into the Hershey’s Chocolatetown project immediately. I began the project working closely with the consultant team including architects, engineers and designers. Since the project broke ground in 2019, I have remained involved with the multitude of planning and design challenges inherent in a large scale project. Most recently, I work closely with the contractors building the project to bridge any gaps between our internal operational and aesthetic direction and the original design documents.
Q) Why did you choose to work for Hershey?
A) Honestly, because of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Unlike most kids, my first Disney trip didn’t happen until I turned 30. The first attraction I experienced was Tower of Terror which ignited my fascination with the Imagineers and started a decade-long quest to find a way into a field that encouraged and fostered creativity the way Imagineering does every day. In a few early meetings with HE&R, it was clear that the culture shared many parallels with what I had read, studied and experienced in those trips to Orlando.
Q) What's your biggest accomplishment since joining the Hershey team?
A) Being a collaborator with so many different teams on the Hershey’s Chocolatetown project is an amazing accomplishment. Coming from a consulting background where you spend a few hours with a client every few weeks, to now working daily with the teams who create, manage, operate, market, communicate, maintain, finance and build the very environment that makes so many people Hersheypark Happy is truly remarkable.
Q) What's your favorite ride at Hersheypark?
A) Coal Cracker. There is something almost peaceful about the ride up the hill and the float around the corner. Then, there’s just enough thrill coming down the hill and getting just a little wet on a summer day.
Q) What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A) Being involved with Project Fellowship and Milton Hershey School is a great reward that I did not anticipate with my job at HE&R. Spending time with the students and participating in activities on and off campus is a true joy and brings a sense of purpose above and beyond the normal workday.
Q) What advice would you give someone interested in a career in amusement parks?
A) There are so many paths that lead to the amusement park industry. My work on Hershey’s Chocolatetown has introduced me to so many unique professionals both inside the company and outside with our talented group of consultants. So, my advice is to be curious. Ask questions. And write it down. You may find a spark in the most unlikely place which, like me, leads you to a career in this industry.
Q) What's the best perk of your job?
A) Because of my job at HE&R, I was able to visit Universal Orlando and fully understand all the hype about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and finally taste Butter Beer. Actually, traveling to other themes parks is the real perk of my early career at HE&R and whenever I have been given the opportunity to travel, I make sure to pack the maximum amount of activity into the time away - including near-vertical drops on coasters, virtual reality experiences, specialty retail, plenty of unique foods and the occasional behind-the-scenes tour.
Q) What does a typical day consist of?
A) I arrive at this job early every day, to take a few minutes to listen to music and plot my day (usually in my notebook). From there, I spend a few hours each day in meetings for various projects, draw in AutoCAD or sketch on paper, read and write e-mails and then wrap my day up giving a tour of the construction site for Hershey’s Chocolatetown.
Q) Tell us something folks might not know about you.
A) I received a varsity letter in High School for being the Mascot. Also, to help pay for my semester abroad in Rome, I worked nights as a DJ in a bar.