Interview with David Austin from Six Flags

David Austin was named Senior Vice President, Information Systems & Chief Information Officer for Six Flags in December 2017. Mr. Austin had previously served as Chief Technology Officer at Berkshire Hathaway Automotive from December 2014 to December 2017, where he had operational responsibility for all technology across 100 business units, technology development, and leadership of the IT team. Prior to that, from May 2007 to December 2014, he served as the Vice President of Information Technology at Larry H. Miller Group, a company with many businesses that included The Utah Jazz and associated arena businesses, large mega-plexes cinemas, a 500-acre racetrack complex, and a large automotive business, where he led the IT team. Mr. Austin majored in Speech Communication at Fresno State University and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

 

Interviewer: What do you feel are the biggest challenges IT leaders are currently faced with?  

 

David: On the surface, this seems like an easy question, money, time, and resources… But that perspective has become dated. There are a lot of complex issues we are facing today – new regulatory issues,  unprecedented levels of innovation in technology,  ML and AI just to name a few.   How to acquire, deploy, maintain, and most importantly, keep everything secure is high on the list of challenges for IT and business leaders today.   I’m including business leaders, as we evolve technology can’t just be sweep over to IT.  The business needs to become part of the process.

 

Interviewer: What is the best piece of advice you have received within your job over the years?

 

David: I worked for a company that was very successful in racing cars.   We heard often “don’t let a five dollar part take out a million-dollar race car.”   Make sure you have the correct focus on the little things and you probably won’t have to deal with the big things.

 

Interviewer: What advice would you give to someone trying to excel in the IT industry?

 

David: This is going to sound really old school!  Learn it from the ground up.  There aren’t enough technologists that really know the stack.  Learn the basics and build from there.  Building a solid skillset & understanding the fundamentals will always open doors.

 

Interviewer: What do you feel the most passionate about within your business?

 

David: We really thrive on delivering a world-class tech experience to our end-users and guests.  We like to think way outside of the box using technology to reduce friction and to make sure the guest tech experience is as much fun as the guests have in our parks and on our rides.

 

Interviewer: What is one key takeaway you hope our CIO audience leaves with after hearing your presentation on-site

 

David: Using next-generation technology to enhance the employee and guest experience can be done securely!

 

ABOUT SIXFLAGS

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is the world’s largest regional theme park company and the largest operator of waterparks in North America, with $1.4 billion in revenue and 26 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada. For 57 years, Six Flags has entertained millions of families with world-class coasters, themed rides, thrilling water parks and unique attractions.

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