It's No Fairytale: Disney is Hiring (and Innovating)

Published: Oct 13, 2009

“It’s time to take risks … when consumers are ready to spend again, we will be ready”-- Jim Fielding, president of Disney Stores Worldwide on a purported overhaul of his company's retail outlets in Europe and the U.S., quoted in the New York Times.<p>Correct me if I'm wrong here, but it would appear that the folks at Disney have opened their business playbooks at the section marked "spend money to make money." The company—apparently at the bidding of board member Steve Jobs—is readying itself for a spending spree of at least $340 million* to overhaul its retail outlets. The likely result: a fleet of stores—which may or may not get rebranded—"more akin to cozy entertainment hubs." Highlights, according to the <i>Times</i> piece, are likely to include lots of innovations plus tricks imported from Apple's stores: free-floating, receipt-machine-toting staff members with the ability to let you pay for products anywhere in the store; personalized interactive displays and hidden tricks such as "magic" mirrors; even a "scent component" to complete the experience. So enticing are the stores rumored to be, some Disney execs tried to resist them on the grounds that "parents would try to use the stores as day care centers."<p>Regardless of how you might feel about the House of Mouse, or your excitement level over its attempts to get adults to spend money by getting kids hooked on their products, the fact remains that Disney is one of the few companies out there right now that seems to be trying something new in an attempt to grow out of the recession. And, as evidence from previous recessions has taught us, companies that show foresight and take risks during down cycles tend to emerge strongest and grow fastest when the up cycles inevitably follow.<p>(Another example of the company's commitment to unusual strategies is the give a day, get a Disney day program it's running just now. Not many companies offer free product during a recession—even if it is in return for a day of community service—but the brand-building potential behind it is phenomenal.) <p>Clearly, Disney is a company with designs on a successful future. As such, it's probably also a company that's worth checking out if you're looking for a career with the potential to go places. A recent search of the company's site turned up some 250 vacancies across a variety of job functions and locations, so it's definitely a place worth looking. <p>And, should you happen to get an interview and face the dreaded "why do you want to work for us?" question, there's no need to relate an elaborate story about loving Mickey since you were knee-high to a grasshopper...just show them this blog instead!<p><img class="embeddedObject" src="" width="379" height="252" border="0"><br>Associated Press/Disneyland, Paul Hiffmeyer<p><i><b>--Posted by Phil Stott, Vault Staff Writer</b></i><p>*While that figure isn't explicitly stated in the <i>Times</i> article above, it is implied: according to the piece, the company is planning an "ambitious floor-to-ceiling reboot of its 340 stores in the United States and Europe — as well as opening new ones, including a potential flagship in Times Square." The <i>Times</i> also puts the cost of overhaul at around $1 million per store.