Erin Wallace, 46, senior vice president of operations for Walt Disney World, succeeding Lee Cockerell this month as the resort’s chief operating officer. Wallace spoke with Orlando Sentinel writer Scott Powers. Below are a few choice answers or you can read the full interview.
Q: Your predecessor, Lee Cockerell, often talked about the need to inspire front-line employees to create magic. What’s your strategy for doing that?
A: To me, inspiration starts with validating that they play a very critical role. My job, and the job of my leaders, is to make sure the hourly cast members are not just empowered but feel great about the jobs they perform. That involves talking regularly to them, seeing them on the job, helping them on the job.
Translation: same stuff, different day.
Q: Are we likely to see more outsourcing of some services such as hotel custodial operations?
A: I think what we’re always going to be doing in operations at Walt Disney World is continuously looking at how to run this as effectively and as best as we can. Our goal is to be the best service provider in the industry, and we’ll be continuously improving in order to do so.
Translation: You bet. We will twist the knife in the back of our employees and unions any chance we get and cut corners on service if it means we can save a buck.
The correct answer would have been: No. We believe that in order to make the magic you have to be part of the family of the Walt Disney Company with all the training and benefits and responsibilities that come with the job. There is no sense adding a middle man into that equation when we strive to do the best job ourselves.
Q: With no plans for any additional parks here in the known future, the pressure must be on for maximizing operations to provide for long-term growth. How will that be done?
A: What operations has to concentrate on each and every day is creating the very best guest experience each and every day. We know that our guests will have the positive experience here, and when they do they recommend Walt Disney World to their friends and families. That’s our mission and that’s our job, to create that good guest experience, so that positive word-of-mouth brings us future visitors.
Translation: I have no idea.
I’m sorry if I sound a little harsh Erin, but you have to show me that you can bring some real plans to the table that will make Walt Disney World a better place to visit and a better place for the employees. Answering in platitudes and corporate speak just won’t cut it.