How to become a rollercoaster PM

Michelle Hicks designs and builds theme park rides. She works for Chessington World of Adventures – ride projects she’s completed include The Gruffalo River Ride, the Land of the Tiger and the Adventure Tree. “It’s the whole reason I studied engineering. It’s what I wanted to do since I went to my first theme park, aged five. My dad would take me on my birthdays, and I knew even then.”

Her childhood dream took her to an engineering degree at University of Surrey, where she won several awards. After a brief stint at WSP, she saw a job ad for Merlin Magic Making, the creative arm of Merlin Entertainments, which owns Chessington, and applied. She got the job and took the APM qualification to improve her project management skills.

The first thing that Hicks does when coming up with a ride is brainstorm ideas. “We ask what is achievable? Can we build it on time and on budget? Then I develop it and apply for funding from the board. Then I appoint architects and creative designers, get planning permission and go to construction. Then I monitor the construction.”

Read more of Hick’s advice on how to project manage great rides:


Posted by Mark Rowland on 27th Apr 2020

About the Author

Mark Rowland is a senior writer on the Project editorial team. He has worked as a business journalist and editor for 15 years, and has won awards for his writing and editing. He has also worked in project and product management, overseeing the launch and continuous development of new websites and publications. Project is the official journal of the Association for Project Management (APM).

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