The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series (DDLS) brings prominent industry professionals to speak at SHA most Fridays during the fall semester. For 2014, students work in pairs each week to research, meet, and profile featured speakers, and then guest-blog here about the experience.
This week’s student authors are Gabrielle Maurer ’16 and Maguire Parsons ’15.
The School of Hotel Administration welcomed Ms. Maribeth Bisienere back to campus recently to speak about her career path, as well as her long-standing tenure with the Disney company. Currently, she is senior vice president of Downtown Disney, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and Water Parks & Mini Golf Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.
We prepared a research packet about our guest to enlighten other students as to her accomplishments, both in and outside of Disney, mainly focusing on her most recent efforts as the senior vice president of the massive Disney Springs project as well as previous achievements that helped advance her career. It was a pleasure to research and eventually hear firsthand stories about her adventures within the Disney empire.
On Thursday night, a dinner was held at Taverna Banfi for Ms. Bisienere, her integration manager Amy, and her daughter Michaela. Dean Johnson, his wife, Professor Cathy Enz, and various SHA undergraduate and MMH students joined them for a delicious meal prepared by HLDP student Mara Jaffe. The cuisine was Asian-inspired and was definitely enjoyed by all! Ms. Bisienere not only spoke about important matters such as the challenges she faces in her position, but also engaged in lighthearted conversation about topics such as everyone’s favorite Disney park ride (surprisingly enough, everybody at the table had a different favorite!).
On Friday afternoon, Ms. Bisienere attended a lunch with several SHA undergraduate and MMH students before presenting her lecture to the freshman class. Students at the lunch seemed completely captivated by Ms. Bisienere’s down-to-earth answers to serious questions about her business. The conversation ranged from work-life balance advice to experiences at Disney parks, long-term business strategy, and everything in-between.
After an engaging lunch, Ms. Bisienere delivered her main presentation to the HADM 1910 class, detailing her beginnings in the hospitality industry as well as her entire career path through Disney, along with some funny experiences and run-ins along the way. Her stories about walking the parks every morning to reinforce the purpose of her job(s) certainly inspired students and gave them an enormous amount of perspective. The lecture was over all too soon, but Ms. Bisienere was gracious enough to take more questions afterwards.
After HADM 1910, Ms. Bisienere spoke with the students of HADM 4100, a roundtable discussion with the class assistants from 1910. In this forum, she went in-depth about the Magic Plus bands and where she sees them heading, the addition of beer and wine to the “Be Our Guest” restaurant, and how technology is moving forward in the park. The students had a great time learning about the secrets to her success. She wouldn’t reveal too much about coming projects such as Disney Springs, but did give a hint that an announcement would be made soon.
The SHA student body was highly impressed with Ms. Bisienere’s down-to-earth demeanor, incredible drive, and willingness to be flexible and try things out of her comfort zone. It was certainly a visit these students will never forget, and they will undoubtedly take into consideration the ample important advice she doled out in her talks. We are so thankful for the opportunity to get to know Ms. Bisienere better, and to learn from her all about the true magic of Disney!