Operations Manager at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’
Lydia Zang (Yan Yan Zang)
Masters of Business Administration
Operations Manager of Merchandise, Shanghai Disney Resort
Working for Disney could be considered a magical fairy-tale. Spending your day with Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Goofy, and Donald Duck. Watching children’s faces light up as their dreams come true ‘meeting’ their lifelong heroes. Opening the imagination of both the young and young at heart.
Behind the delightful fantasy is a well organised, billion dollar company, employing over 62,000 people worldwide with themed franchises in resorts, theme parks, cruise ships, merchandise and film. This empire shows no signs of slowing down too - continually evolving and remaining incredibly popular for generations.
One person who is a contributing member of this empire is Lydia Zang, who is currently the Operations Manager of Merchandise at Shanghai Disney Resort.
After joining Walt Disney English Education Co. in 2009, she was continually promoted from Centre Manager to District Manager, National Sales Manager, and eventually Area Manager, responsible for 380 cast members across multiple cities in China’s east region. In her current role she manages merchandise operations across 10 locations in the resort.
Lydia confirms that Disney really is the happiest place on earth and her favourite character is Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Underneath its playful exterior are the hardworking and dedicated staff.
“People think Disney is fun place, therefore they think the job is only about fun. Our job is fun but not only for fun. Our goal is to exceed the guest expectations, our cast members need to put more effort to achieve this,” says Lydia.
Developing staff and growing the business are what Lydia is most proud of.
“I have developed more than 20 managers at Disney English. I helped them grow from sales or trainer to a manager.”
When Shanghai Disney Resort originally opened, Lydia started with just one cast member growing to 400 cast members.
“We opened beautiful Disney Park successfully together.”
Responsible for so many employees, Lydia focuses on building a strong and happy team by motivating and engaging the cast members through inspirational leadership and storytelling.
“To make sure the guests are happy, I start by making my cast members happy. They are the people who make Disney magical. In the meantime, I also set a SMART goal for my team to achieve. When we achieve the target we always celebrate the achievements together and recognise and appreciate improvement and good performance.”
“Before I studied an MBA course at the University of South Australia, I was a team leader at an International school. I had limited leadership skills and business sense. The MBA course has opened my eyes and mind. It has given me a good foundation of business strategy and people management skills.”
Lydia has learned through experience how to make work easier – work smart and productive, and empower employees.
- Make your expectations clear - make your style and preference clear and organised so your team always knows your expectations.
- Make people feel good about their job - build trust by trusting others to do their jobs and through recognition by giving credit to others.
- Make people want to work with you - be respectful and compassionate. Understand what it means to be a servant leader.
Her advice for recent graduates starting out in their careers is to find a job that they are passionate about at a big company with room to advance.
“Start with a global and big company rather focus on salary and position. Usually a global company has more opportunity and you will learn more.
“Attitude is most important. Don’t complain and do more, learn more.”
“Thanks and have a magical day!”