Success Stories


Merlin Entertainments ANZ and

the evolution of their Leadership Team

Darling Harbour Attractions’ General Manager Richard Dilly tells us his experience embarking on a transformation journey with his peers.

Setting the scene

Merlin Entertainments is one of the world’s largest players in the entertainment industry. From destination theme park resorts to city centre locations, it operates over 130 attractions in 25 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

The ANZ division alone counts over 500 employees covering a wide breadth of roles, from sculptors and makeup artists at Madame Tussauds to zoologists and marine biologists in the WILD LIFE and SEA LIFE attractions.  Skillsets can be so varied and as such it is essential that those in senior positions are comfortable to empower their teams and trust them to make decisions.

It was with the aim to increase collaboration for a better strategic approach that the ANZ executive team embarked on a development journey, led and facilitated by culture transformation expert, Hiam Sakakini.

General Manager at Darling Harbour Attractions, Richard Dilly candidly opens up about this experience. As a leader managing three different attractions (SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and Madame Tussauds Sydney), Richard is responsible for a broad spectrum of things, from day to day operations all the way through to the strategic direction. This includes team leadership, brand development, financial planning and goal setting.

Richard Dilly

once upon a time…

The way used to be

Merlin Entertainments

While there are some great and experienced professionals in the ANZ leadership team, admittedly there was a degree of competition across the team which sometimes resulted in work being carried out in silos.

What this translated into was an opportunity to improve collaboration and knowledge sharing and learn how to maximise the benefit of working relationships, deferring to peer groups when facing big challenges. Overall, it provided the opportunity to learn and benefit from each other’s experience.

There was also a clear opportunity for strengthened strategic alignment for the team to head in the same direction in unison.

Lots of work to do!


Executive Team transformation in progress

Guided by Hiam’s expertise, the leadership team jumped on a program of work that stretched over the course of 12 months and blended a multitude of activities such as a Three Day Leadership Development Program, Executive 1-1 Coaching, Team Coaching, and Reflective Exercises.

We dove into so many aspects during the program – says Richard – like the concept of psychological safety, the importance of 360 feedback, personality types… to name a few”.

Scepticism can also pose an additional challenge to those starting on a culture development program. Unsurprisingly, theoretical concepts may sound a little ‘fluffy’ at times, if it is not demonstrated how to apply them in our daily lives.

Richard confirms: “the group coaching sessions were particularly helpful because they allowed us to pull apart our learnings in real life situations as opposed to something that’s on a board in front of you. I went from scepticism to aha moments!

Interestingly, one of the key insights emerging from the 360 feedback sessions was about confidence. The leadership group noticed that the more confident they grew with their leadership skills the better they could empower their respective teams.

Making Magic Merlin
Richard Dilly Quote 2


From a cultural perspective, not only did Merlin Entertainments ANZ team uncover some key challenges the business was facing at the time but, most importantly they were able to push forward their culture to one that is even more accepting and collaborative.

This opened doors to conversations, new ideas were brought to the foreground as well as new ways of working that were never considered before. Needless to say, this ultimately reflected on the experience and value delivered every day to their guests.

Furthermore, all the work undertaken during the program has been key in handling the challenges arising during the global crisis brought upon by COVID19.  In fact, through the pandemic, Sydney attractions’ recovery plans and marketing plans were best in class examples within Merlin’s attractions internationally.

Looking for great results like this for your team? Just book a quick chat with us!



Growth in participants ability to coach others


Growth in participants problem solving ability


Growth in participants ability to influence decision makers


Happy participants!