p. 53 p. 54 p. 56 p. 57

The Walt Disney Company's product is happiness. No matter what role a cast member plays, the most important part of training is how to attain the goal of happiness.

To find out how the company with America's most valuable brand name manages 33,000 employees and makes it look easy, 28,000 professionals participated in Walt Disney Productions' management seminars last year.

But as attendees have found out, it's really not as easy as it looks. Training and motivating hourly employees to play "host" 365 days a year while many perform repetitive job tasks require an extensive training program. It also requires a culture that literally immerses its workers in the corporate way or, in this case, the Disney way.

Zhari Sulaiman, general manager of Bank Rakyet in Malaysia, spent two weeks in Florida attending Walt Disney Productions' executive development programs People Management and Quality Management seminars. Though he gained insight as to how the massive employer operates, Sulaiman said that creating such a culture was "an ideal approach that could be very difficult to implement."

Lyle Gilbertson, also an attendee and senior vice president of property management for General Growth Center Co. in Minneapolis, said that Disney's case was unique. "Hiring overqualified people at entry-level positions is genius," he said. "They are able to do this because of the growth potential for employees in the company."

Because Disney continues to expand, he said, employees have advancement opportunities. Currently, Walt Disney Productions includes Disney Development Co., Walt Disney Attractions, Corporate Administration, EuroDisney, Hollywood Records, Walt Disney Imagineering and Consumer Products.

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