How Emily Chambers turned a passion for statistics into a dream job at Disney
As an Integration Consultant for Disney in Orlando, Emily Chambers helps develop forecasting models and algorithms to keep the magic running smoothly — like her latest gig, ensuring Frozen on Broadway is a success. How did she get her dream job, bringing her passion for statistics to the happiest place on earth? Taking advantage of an opportunity to ask for it.
By Hailey Eisen
When your first day at a new job includes a private tour of Disney’s Magic Kingdom — you know you’ve landed a corporate position many could only dream of. “It was my first visit to Disney World, my first time seeing the castle,” Emily Chambers recalls. “You don’t really think that people actually work there, it’s all just magic.”
It could be described as magic — the way Emily seamlessly transitioned from an accounting role at one of the Big Four accounting firms, to the Masters of Management Analytics (MMA) program at Smith School of Business, to a job working as an Integration Consultant for The Walt Disney Company in Orlando. In actuality, it is a perfect example of not being afraid to go after what you want.
“It all began when an executive from Disney came to do a presentation for our class,” Emily says. “He happened to be the VP of Revenue Management and Analytics in the department I now work for. At the time, I was just so fascinated by the work he was doing that, after the presentation, I reached out and asked him to meet with me.”
That meeting was the culmination of much research into the next phase of her career. Though she’d learned a lot in the years she’d worked in auditing, Emily had known for a while that she wasn’t going to be an accountant forever. She’d studied Commerce at Queen’s, and had been especially interested in statistics. When she found out that Smith was launching the MMA program in 2013, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to dive into this area of interest in greater depth.
“At the start of the program, I was so excited to be part of a community of people who were all interested in the same things I was, but who were all coming from very different professional backgrounds,” Emily recalls.
While many of the jobs people took coming out of the MMA program were in more traditional sectors such as banking and consulting, Emily knew it wasn’t the route she wanted to go. “I’d always been interested in the travel and entertainment industries, so I started doing research into companies “in those areas.” Then the Disney opportunity presented itself, and it was too good to pass up.
“We’re raised being told that if you work hard you get rewarded, but in reality, a lot of it comes from being able to speak up for yourself.”
While Emily says she did take a chance reaching out to that Disney executive — hoping he’d have time to meet with her — she knew she had to try. “That’s something I’ve had to learn over time. To be able to advocate for myself, to let people know what I’m interested in and where I want to go with my career,” she says. “You know, we’re raised being told that if you work hard you get rewarded, but in reality, a lot of it comes from being able to speak up for yourself.”
When she was brought to Orlando for an intensive day of interviews, Emily says the Disney team recognized the experience she gained through the MMA program, working closely with statisticians and mathematicians, and learning how to translate their findings into business scenarios.
“That’s exactly what we’re doing here with Disney,” she says. “As part of the integration team, we work with the data team and science team to develop forecasting models and algorithms and then apply those to the business.”
After working with Disney’s media networks for a few years, Emily transitioned to the Disney Theatrical Group, where she’s had the opportunity to develop pricing and revenue management solutions for Broadway shows. Emily’s most recent project was working on Frozen, the Broadway musical. She helped develop a pricing tool that ensures the show is making money, while also filling seats for every performance.
“In the theatre world, you want seats to be full because that contributes to the atmosphere of the show,” she says. “The goal is to help the team in New York make ticket pricing decisions that not only take advantage of revenue-generating opportunities, but also ensure seats are filled in off-peak times.” The tool Emily and her team created helps make pricing decisions on a day-to-day basis, forecasting what’s to come and adjusting as each show approaches.
In a job that gives you unlimited access to the Disney parks after work, plus last-minute opportunities to jump on a Disney Cruise for the weekend — it can be hard to pinpoint the highlight of a four-year career. But for Emily, there’s no question the opening night of Frozen on Broadway was it for her. “I got to see the show in previews in Denver, which was amazing, but being in the theatre on opening night and seeing the finished version — a culmination of years of work — that was incredibly rewarding,” she says.
Born and raised in a small town located a few kilometres outside Peterborough, Ontario, Emily’s decision to relocate to Orlando required a leap of faith. “When I moved here, I assumed it would be fun for a few years, but with so many opportunities within Disney that I haven’t even tapped into yet, I could see myself being here for a while.”
Learn more about Smith’s world-class analytics ecosystem during a complimentary online information session Oct. 9 highlighting the Queen’s Master of Management Analytics program and Queen’s Master of Management in Artificial Intelligence.