InTheSpotlight - Rob Wood

Moving from Regional manager, GLL to General manager, Willen Lake, The Parks Trust, Milton Keynes

General manager, Willen Lake, Rob Wood
General manager, Willen Lake, Rob Wood

- What did you do before this job?

I worked in leisure centres, both private and trust, most recently as a regional manager for GLL, a not-for-profit organisation with a similar ethos to The Parks Trust.

For seven years I worked in the LA Fitness leisure centre at Willen Lake and managed it for five years.

- Why did you apply for the role?

I was contacted. I live in the area and was commuting to my old job. I've got a young son so naturally it was a fantastic opportunity. I've lived in and around Milton Keynes all my life. I grew up coming to the lake at weekends and now I come here at weekends with my son.

I'm trying to grow the offering for the four-to-eight age group and the 929sq m splash park we are building this year is part of that. We are investing £1m on that, a car park extension, new kiosk and toilets and landscaping work.

- What about horticulture?

Horticulture is a big learning curve for me. The Parks Trust has a great operations team, with a good horticultural background. People here have worked at the lake for 10, 15 years. They understand it very well.

There are issues with wildfowl, bats, conservation - that's newer to me. My role has been to work within buildings but there is a great support team in The Parks Trust.

- What are your aims for the next few years?

My ambition is to get the lake known in Milton Keynes as the number one attraction. It's going to struggle with the shopping centre but it's so accessible where it is. We want to make it a really big attraction for all the residents of Milton Keynes and for those up to 20 miles around - a destination.

There are clearly opportunities at the lake. It's about taking the time to manage the space and the use of the space. I've got a wide knowledge of keeping as many people as possible happy. It's down to communication.

This is the most popular lake and park we have. We are looking to push past the one-million visitors mark and north of one-and-a-half million over the next five years. I'd like to take the lake to the next level and say that's something I've been part of.

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