First Encounter with a Walt Disney Imagineer

Last week I attended a networking event for Disney College Program participants, known as CPASS. There, I met my first Imagineer – an extremely rare opportunity!


His name was JD (yes, that’s what his nametag said, and after some digging I discovered his name was actually John). Whilst on the panel of other leaders who attended, he touched briefly on his role as a Finance Manager and what kind of tasks that position requires him to do. Naturally, as with all Imagineers, they are very restricted in what they can and cannot say – and understandably so, as they are working on strictly classified future projects for the Disney parks. What I found interesting was that he, along with every other leader in attendance, had started his career at Disney from a very different role to what he does today. A lot of the leaders spoke about how they worked up the ranks of the company by first starting off as a small-time Cast Member not unlike the frontline roles undertaken by Disney College Program students. In fact, all of them had been on the College Program! It’s a good feeling to know that it helped them achieve their dreams, and it may just help the rest of us new-comers.

After the large presentation we were able to speak to these leaders in person, and it was during this time that I learned a little more detail about JD’s career. Again, within reason. Ironically, JD had played a role on the team that financed Joe Rohde’s expedition to the Himalayas for research on the ride Expedition Everest, something I had just completed an assignment for only the week before. JD chuckled when I told him this as well as my dream to meet Joe Rohde in person. I was expecting the reaction I was given – good luck with that one, it is extremely hard! He did however seem very, very acknoledgable of my determination and will to network and advance in opportunity whilst I was on the program, knowing full well of the obstalces that lie ahead of me with visas when trying to find a job in the U.S. He offered some encouraging words. He told me that I was defenitely on the right track, and that certainly lifted my spirits. From a group conversation, the crowd lightened down until eventually it became more of a one-on-one, and the questions and advice became more personalised, which I was ecstatic about. By the end, he offered his business card, in the hopes of staying in touch – when he could – in the future. It ended as a great evening.

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