There are a lot of cast members out there who love working for Disney so much that they would never, ever leave. So why would someone voluntarily leave the most magical company on earth?
Meet David Gill. You might recognize him from his time as a Disneyland Resort Ambassador. I had the pleasure of speaking with David about his experience in public relations and his reasoning behind leaving The Walt Disney Company.
David’s Disney Story
David started his Disney career working in food and beverage at Disneyland. A few years later, he heard about the Disneyland Resort Ambassador Program in which Disneyland cast members are selected to act as “media representative[s] and as official host[s] to Resort guests.” He applied and was selected as a 2008 Disneyland Resort Ambassador.
Throughout his year of service as an Ambassador, David became more interested in public relations – something he never anticipated.
“I liked it so much I wanted to look into PR jobs,” he said. “It just goes to show that your life may not turn out to be exactly what you’re expecting. I have a degree in business, and I always thought I’d go into finance.”
In 2009, David transitioned into a behind-the-scenes role at Disneyland, working in media relations. He eventually landed a position as a senior social media and video communications specialist for The Walt Disney Company as a whole.
After a few years in a corporate role at Disney, David said he wanted a chance to advance his career in the public relations industry.
“I wanted to focus more on the big picture instead of just social media and video,” he said. At the time, he didn’t feel like he could make that career move at Disney.
David currently serves as the Senior PR and Communications Manager at Silverado, a healthcare company dedicated primarily to assisted living communities across the U.S. He said the work culture is very different than Disney’s, but he’s enjoying his new responsibilities.
“The transition from Disney to Silverado was interesting,” David said. “There are similarities between the two companies, but they are definitely different — one a large, established company with a rich history, and another a fast-growing company the began just 18 years ago but has had phenomenal success.”
David said that perhaps he will return to Disney in the future in a more senior capacity, but for now he is looking forward to tackling new and exciting public relations challenges at Silverado.
It’s okay to step away from the Mouse for a little while to gain more experience. David isn’t the first Disney veteran who’s told me that, either. People become so passionate about the company that they don’t concern themselves with growing as professionals. David said it’s important to grow your skill set, especially if you want to move up in the ranks at Disney. Sometimes that’s best accomplished working at another organization.
As a public relations professional, David also knows the value of networking. His biggest piece of advice to college students is to reach out to professionals and set up a time to talk to them in person or over the phone.
“It’s incredibly smart to reach out to people,” David said. “Maybe six people called me a year when I worked at Disney, which isn’t a whole lot. I remember those six people who took that initiative when someone asks me if I can recommend someone to fill a job opening. Keep talking to people and get your name out there.”