The new CEO of Westerner Park says the organization needs to focus on “maximizing what we have.”
“Westerner Park has grown significantly over the past five years,” said Mike Olesen, who officially steps into his new position Friday.
“There have been a lot of big things they’ve taken on … bringing in the CFR, the construction of the Exhibition Hall.
“It’s about us being better as an organization and filling our shoes. We have to get caught up with our change and take ourselves into the future that way. If any event comes to Red Deer, the No. 1 thing they’re looking for is resources and a place to host things.”
Olesen is taking over from Bradley Williams, who is leaving the CEO role after one year. Williams stepped out of retirement to accept the position, and will now return to retirement.
Westerner Park has to become more “innovative” in its service offerings, said Olesen.
“That’s a shift for Westerner Park. We’ve been an event host for many years, so we have facilities and keys and say, ‘Come on in and celebrate.’
“But the industry is changing and Westerner Park now needs to be in front of that. I would take us down the path of being more of an event management company that’s more creative in the events we’re hosting and running ourselves,” he said.
Olesen said hosting more major events, such as the Canadian Finals Rodeo, will benefit both the organization and the community.
“We have the opportunity for even more marquee events to come to our community, and where I’ll be pushing us hard is to not wait for those things to come. We need to be active in bringing them to Red Deer and creating them.
“It’s all in the spirit of maximizing what we have. We’ve got all the opportunity in the world with what we’ve got,” said Olesen.
The support of volunteers is “massive” for Westerner Park, Olesen added.
“They are key to our success as an organization.
“I’ll be putting a high priority on our volunteer program and doing that with increased leadership opportunities for volunteers and incorporating more of that into our operational structure than we’ve done in the past.”
Olesen previously served as Westerner Park chief operating officer and was the senior director of administration and workforce for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.