Magic Kingdom's quest for cast
Written by Richard Watt
Company wants staff with ability to make the 'Disney Difference'
Since the Walt Disney Company's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was first shown in cinemas across the mainland in the 1930s, Disney has eyed the market with the same wonder as those first customers who saw the classic animated film.
And Disney's mainland operations have reflected this.
'While our brand has been present in China for many years, Disney offices formally opened in 2004 with about 50 employees or 'cast members'. Today, we have grown to more than 400 and are aiming to be the employer of choice in China,' said Lawrence Chi, Walt Disney's regional director, human resources, Greater China.
Disney's growth in the mainland is part of its strategic priorities to create quality innovative content, develop cutting-edge technologies to enhance customer experiences, and to add depth to its global presence, especially in emerging markets.
Mr Chi said Disney was a diverse media company with four growing lines of business which included media networks (including Walt Disney Television International, Disney-ABC Television and ESPN); Walt Disney Internet Group (including mobile, online gaming and websites); studio entertainment, which distributes and creates motion pictures; consumer products and parks and resorts.
The expansion brings with it a need to source and retain the right kind of individuals who are able to make the 'Disney Difference'.
'We are looking for talent across all of our areas of business. We want people who are excited about enhancing our consumers' experience,' Mr Chi said.
'We have eight universal competencies that we are looking for in our candidates, which include an ability to think strategically, communicate effectively, inspire creativity, build teams and exhibit professional excellence.
'It's not a case of candidates just telling us what we want to hear. In the interview process we want to see and hear about specific details of how the candidate has demonstrated these competencies in the past.'
The Walt Disney Company has an excellent track record of being an employer of choice, with Business Week naming it the No1 place to launch a career in 2006, and the world's most innovative entertainment/media company in May last year.
'My true belief is that recruitment in any company is the most important aspect of HR,' Mr Chi said. 'You want to make sure that the people you hire intuitively believe in and want to be a part of the company's culture. Disney has a very strong brand and we look for people who exhibit a strong affinity with this culture. It's not just about what people say, it's how they interact with each other, our market and our suppliers.'
Mr Chi said that the diverse nature of the Walt Disney Company in China meant that it was recruiting talent from everywhere. 'We are looking for talent from all markets. When we fill a position we are looking for the right fit - the right talent and the right combination of hard technical skills and core competencies. It's not a question of nationality, we're trying to find the right fit for the right position, so we recruit from the mainland, Hong Kong, Europe and the US.'
The continuing development of staff at Disney was key to the company's success, Mr Chi said, and was especially important for retaining local talent. 'We aim to develop long-term skills. This is one of the key engagement factors of our staff in China as they are always hungry to learn,' he said.
'Part of this development will include the launch of a 'Disney University'. Due to open in the next couple of months, the virtual university will offer a structured approach for our staff to develop both professional and personal skills. This is all part of the 'Disney Difference' that we offer our staff.'
The 'Disney Difference' also includes a strong staff engagement programme that encourages communication across all levels of the business. Town hall meetings, where staff can ask the managing director questions directly, are held regularly, and staff are encouraged to be engaged with the Disney brand and the work that they do for the company.
'The other 'Disney Difference' is that because we have different lines of business in China, it gives people the opportunity to work within the different businesses. For example, you can work in consumer products and develop technical and leadership skills there. Then, if you wanted to do something new, you could move to the media network and learn and develop a whole new set of technical and soft competencies there,' Mr Chi said.
Disney looks for candidates with eight competencies
Develop game plans for success
To advance business goals
Inspire, influence and inform
Deliver timely, high quality work
Inspire creativity and innovation Generate breakthrough ideas
Advance new initiatives
Align people to a shared purpose
Exhibit professional excellence
Be a role model