Park Profiles: Meet Michael Warburton!

Cassie Kaawaloa Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, One Park - One Team, Park Profiles

Michael Warburton is the Director of Parkwide Communications for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership. Before joining the Cultural Partnership in late 2017, Michael lent his strong communications and brand management skills to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in several leadership roles for more than 20 years! As Director of Parkwide Communications, he focuses on building the Balboa Park brand and positioning the Park as a must-visit destination while encouraging collaboration among institutions.

Tell us what led you to become the Director of Parkwide Communications for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership?
Being at the San Diego Zoo and contributing to so many huge changes within the organization, like their rebranding and new direction for communications, I was looking for something to sink my teeth into, something a little different. I’ve always loved Balboa Park and appreciated the people within the Park that I’ve worked with in the past. This position opened up and the needs fell within my wheelhouse, so here we are!

For those who don’t know, can you tell us about your role?
In the grand scheme of things, my role is to help position the Park as a top destination. I weigh in on and participate in projects that are meaningful to the Park and affect or improve the visitor experience. Another focus of mine is to improve anything we can around collaboration among organizations, whether it’s collaborative marketing programs, Parkwide programming or just being a thought partner for marketing representatives. I also work with the individual organizations in any way I can to assist with improving their planning processes or brand positioning.

What do you like most about your job?
My favorite part of my role is applying logic and creativity, which are two things some consider to be incompatible. When the two are applied in the right way they work together synergistically, sparks fly and the next iteration of your product or project is even better. The basic marketing process hasn’t changed, so it’s all about finding new and creative ways – that are rooted in logic – to reach our goals. Collaboration is key, especially within Balboa Park which is why the One Park One Team spirit is so important to my work. I truly believe in my peers.

What is the best advice you ever received and would be willing to share with others?
I always quote my dad’s favorite piece of advice, “Work smarter, not harder.” Often times we don’t think critically enough about what we’re trying to accomplish and how to do it well, so I’ve regurgitated that advice to many people many times.

As we kick off 2019, what projects are you looking forward to tackling this year?
My two main focuses are to really improve the data and information we have now so that we can make better and more informed decisions, and to enhance the collaboration around product planning park-wide.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I have a property in East County that I enjoy puttering around at and I love watching anime with my daughter. Every once in a while I’ll go skateboarding with a buddy. We would always talk about wanting to get back into skating, so we did! I also have a weakness for Legos.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a race car driver. I’ve enjoyed various motoring-related interests throughout my life. For eight years I planned the Golden State 400 drive, a two-day, twisty backroads drive/ride for people from a variety of motor clubs. There was no cost for anyone to participate other than covering their own food and hotel, and we had a blast! The last one was in 2008, and I am thinking of planning a drive again.

Do you have a favorite book, tv show, movie, or song that defines or describes your life?
Go, Dog. Go! I love the artwork, especially the dogs driving the cars. I read the book to my daughter so many times I lost count. The story is fun, simple, and ends with a party!

What is your favorite spot in Balboa Park?
That’s a loaded question, there are so many and this Park is always changing! Sometimes it’s Spanish Village, sometimes it’s Japanese Friendship Garden. I love model trains so I’ll also spend time at the Railroad Museum. I can’t pick just one!