Working for one of the world’s most prominent entertainment and film production companies can, at first, seem like a daunting career choice. However, for Ji-eun Lee, an alumna of Ewha’s Division of International Studies, her work as a business analyst at The Walt Disney Company is an everyday joy. However, her journey towards Disney had many detours along the way.
In fact, becoming a business analyst, especially in the technology sector, was not even her initial goal. After graduating university, Lee went to work for a European investment bank. She quickly realized that this did not suit her well and decided to pursue her initial goal of working for an intergovernmental organization (IGO). She went on to get her Master’s degree in international development at Waseda University in Japan and then went on to work for IGOs and INGOs.
However, once she got married, her career path changed again.
“To be with my husband, I moved to the West coast of the United States. The West did not have intergovernmental organizations like that in the East coast,” Lee said. “However, it was full of opportunities in the technology sector, though I knew nothing about it. So I started from scratch. I went to school, got certified, and paid my dues working as an unpaid intern in my 30s.”
After her career journey, Lee finds herself in her current role at Disney, where she is taking part in a vast internal business project working as an End to End (E2E) integration testing coordinator.
Over the years, as Disney has grown, it has acquired several companies such as ABC, Pixar, 21st Century Fox, and Marvel. However, these companies kept their own HR systems, which resulted in some cumbersome workflows and limited visibility. To re-imagine Disney’s people strategy in order to support the business and to grow more agile and efficient, Disney decided to build a cloud-based digital HR solution. This will go live in June next year, and Lee plays a prominent role in coordinating the E2E integration testing efforts.
According to Lee, the work she performs is not as glitzy as the work of other Disney segments, like Disney Studios. Despite this, the fact that her work will affect the entire company encourages her every day, as she plays a vital role in the internal functioning of a mammoth organization.
Before joining her current team, she also worked for Disney’s Mobile Business Technology team as a program coordinator, with the team’s goal: follow the paper trail, and remove it. They wanted to digitalize the entire organization, so that paper would be a thing of the past.
As a program coordinator, she mainly documented business requirements and developed user stories so that the engineers could focus on coding. Her work spanned over multiple departments and vendors where she triaged user issue after application went-live.
When not working on her main projects, Lee enjoys other perks of being part of the entertainment giant which was once No.1 on Forbe’s World’s Best Regarded Company, including its random selection of employees to be given a chance to participate in secret screenings of unfinished productions. After these screenings, Disney collects surveys and, based on the feedback, the company may change certain aspects of what they are working on.
“I was selected for ‘End Game’, the final Avengers movie,” Lee said. “I remember how much I loved it before it premiered. It was so fun to watch the final version after it was released and compare it with the previous version.”
For students interested in a career at Disney, Lee encourages them to be focused, yet flexible. It is important to have a career plan, to know what you want and understand what you are good at. She thinks it is also equally important to be flexible because sometimes opportunities come along unplanned, and those can often be the most interesting decisions that a person makes.
“There are so many different positions at Disney,” Lee said. “Almost any position imaginable is here, so find out what you want to do and what you are good at. If you figure that out, you will not only be welcomed at Disney but anywhere you go.”