Bringing EMDC to Disney

Holly Dial (EMDC '18) talks about how she applies lessons learned in Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) online program to her project management role at The Walt Disney Company.

Holly Dial (EMDC '18) has spent the past 10 years working at The Walt Disney Company, where she currently works in Corporate Real Estate. 

Holly DialShe previously worked with the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), where she played a key role in the transformation of their corporate headquarters and development of sales assets within resorts and attractions. 

As Dial says on her LinkedIn profile, her responsibility is to "preserve the Disney magic while achieving superior project outcomes and stakeholder experiences."

To help further develop her own expertise, Dial enrolled in Northwestern Engineering's MS in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) online program. She was promoted to her current role as project manager on Disney's Corporate Real Estate Design & Delivery team after graduation. She is responsible for the design and construction of Tenant Improvement, Ground Up, and Technology projects within the Corporate Real Estate portfolio. 

Dial recently talked about her experience in the EMDC program and how she applies lessons learned in the program to her day-to-day work at Disney. 

​​How do you describe what you do to someone with little to no understanding of your industry?

My responsibilities range from facility management of Class A Leed Certified corporate office building to project management oversight of capital and expense infrastructure development, replacement, repair and design/construction of new sales assets for locations in the Eastern United States.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like to strategically position the business operations and leverage the expertise required to work within complex evolving work environments. I also enjoy the diversity that comes with the reality that no two days are ever the same and the opportunities to innovate, create and problem solve are seemingly endless!

On LinkedIn, you say that you have to integrate "unique Disney development and creative assets with the efficiencies and skills of great project management." Can you explain what this means to you?

I lead, design and create unique assets within the context of Disney's legendary innovative culture by practicing great project management. It is exhilarating to imagine new ways to undergird strong environmental realities in the corporate office environment so that each of my teams is well-positioned to advance and grow. Disney is known worldwide for its customer service and unique individual experiences, so it is a continual challenge to design, build and lead for the future.

What is one thing that would surprise most people about your job?

That my supplies list sometimes includes Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwiches!

What appealed to you about the EMDC program?

Dr. Krizek, the flexibility of the program, the hybrid design and the quality instructors and courses. The instruction was balanced between practical and theoretical. The essential business curriculum perfectly enriched and prepared for the challenges ahead. 

In what ways do you apply what you learned in the program to your job today?

Nearly every day, strategies learned while in the EMDC program are directly infused into projects and operational constructs, whether it be in planning, design, presentations or responding to our clients with a "heart, head, heart" format. The differing industries, backgrounds, scale, and scope studied served as stimulating counterpoints to broaden overall approach, challenge higher design plans and reflect on how installations can give back in a regenerative way to the community around us.

What would you say to a prospective student considering the EMDC program?

This program will challenge you to absorb technical content and relate it to your everyday responsibilities. You will appreciate and gain insight from the rich diversity that exists within your cohort. You will benefit from the business backdrop — including ethics, law, finance, and communication — equipping you with the necessary skills and understandings to interact with senior leadership in any industry.

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