The Walt Disney Company is one of the world's most well-known Entertainment companies, contributing to the entertainment industry for approximately 90 years and currently expanding its business to international family entertainment and media enterprise. The company consists of various Studios Content groups, including The Walt Disney Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios.
Out of the many world-class entertainment studios that produce cinematic content, Heajuen Hwang works for Marvel Studios, best known for the production of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Hwang holds the position of Senior Core Developer at Disney Marvel Studios Technology, a group consisting of technology engineers that work to develop tools to be used in film production.
Hwang studied Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Ewha for her bachelor's and master's degree. Attending a special lecture on image processing encouraged her to gain interest in engineering that produced visual results, especially computer graphics used in animations. This led to her studying at Integrated Media Systems Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
“Looking back, it was quite bold of me to give up my doctoral at USC and start looking for a job,” Hwang said. “I had more interest in applying practical ideas to produce visual results rather than deep research.”
Hwang started her career at a small postproduction company that implemented postprocessing of films. There, she realized her passion for engineering, especially in the field of film production. A few years ago, Hwang 's former colleague suggested a position at Marvel Studios Technology that seemed to fit her projects and experiences her so far, and which became the start of her journey her at Disney.
Working as a software engineer for approximately 20 years, Hwang thinks the biggest advantage of her job is that it shows visible results. Hwang quoted on the satisfaction she experiences when projects that she planned come out as impressive products.
“There are many unforgettable moments in my career,” Hwang reminisced. “The times when the video game we produced at a small company came to be a big hit, when a big project that my colleagues and I led showed outstanding results and even received awards, and when I first saw my name on the ending credits of a Marvel movie.”
However, Hwang also shared difficulties she faced in finding a work and life balance. As a mother of a ten-year-old, there were times she was overloaded with roles as a mother and as an engineer.
“There were not as many mentors I could find when it came to overcoming difficulties as a working mom, since most people tended to give up one role or the other,” Hwang said. “I found my own method of balancing the two roles by prioritizing what was on my plate. Having the mindset that those relatively low in priority do not always have to be perfect helped me find balance.”
Hwang commented on the changes the workspace is going through in terms of women and working moms. Back when she started working as an engineer, there were no such communities for female engineers, and especially working moms, as currently encouraged by Disney. Hwang described her experience of bonding, studying, and working for patents with a group of other working moms as a good chance for her to mentor those who were in need of advice.
When asked on the qualities to become a successful engineer, Hwang mostly emphasized the significance of enjoying one’s job, as well as patience and originality to sustain and develop different projects.
Working in the engineering industry for about two decades, Hwang believes she is at the midpoint of her entire career. She dreams to work in the field for the rest of her career with the same joy and expectations she currently experiences at work, and also wishes to become a role model for those next-generation engineers.
“Everybody faces ups and downs during the process of reaching one's dreams and visions – even for those who seem to only experience success,” Hwang said. “Failure teaches us our weaknesses, and we learn our talents through success. When you hold on to the dreams that motivate you and think of everything as a 'process,' you will soon be able to make your dreams become reality.”