Megan Ford's career has taken her all the way from a consulting job in New York to traveling across Asia for a non-profit agency, but all the while she has maintained a steady interest in the entertainment field. Megan, MBA '08, spent a year and a half working in film production, and as a member of the Screen Actors Guild she has landed a number of movie roles. So it comes as no surprise that she chose to spend her summer internship working at Disney in Burbank, Calif.
As a graduate associate for multi-cultural marketing, Megan worked with three separate agencies, one Hispanic, one Asian, and one African-American, helping them work out their multi-cultural strategies, and she says the experience provided invaluable insight into the entertainment industry.
With clients like ABC, Disneyland, and ESPN Deportes, she researched trends in media and conducted financial modeling in hopes of increasing park attendance and viewership among each cultural group.
“It was an interesting position,” she says, “because corporate sits above all of the Disney business units, so from media network, to studio film, to consumer products, to the parks ... you get a broad exposure to all of the different business units and get to work with a lot of different people.”
This first glimpse into the business side of the industry made Megan even more driven to pursue a career in the field. Though she discovered the inside of an entertainment company is surprising similar to the inside of most other kinds of companies, she said the atmosphere at Disney, and the culture of the entertainment field as a whole, added a new layer of excitement.
“It was a very interesting place to be,” she says, “because the corporate building is right in the middle of the film studio, and right across the bridge from the ABC studios, so it is a very interesting group of people. Everyone from the top executives, to the production staff, to the studio people, eat in the cafeteria everyday, and they are shooting things all over the place.”
Add to this a huge softball league, canoe races, backstage tours of Disneyland, as well as a number of other company events, and you have what she says is a perfect mix of business and fun.
“I like being surrounded by the industry, because it is an industry, regardless of how hard people work, that is focused on fun and focused on entertainment.”
For Megan, it was the people she met at Disney that most inspired her to stay involved in entertainment, and she says many of the networking and communication skills she learned at MIT Sloan helped her navigate the ins and outs of a company as large as Disney.
“The entertainment industry in general — and Disney is no exception — is all driven by networking and communication skills. Yes, you need analytics and things like that, but it is more about talking to people. So I think the networking aspect of business school and the soft skills that you learn in terms of presenting and sending well-structured e-mails are very important.”
She says that over the summer she met with upwards of 30 people outside of the context of business. “I met with them to learn about what they do for the company,” she explains, “and just to keep in touch with them.”
For the future, Megan says she definitely plans to remain working in the entertainment field, and that there is a good chance she might return to work for Disney. “I met really great people, and I think that it would tough for me to be back into a different industry that I wasn't as excited about.”