New business society welcomes alumnus, Disney executive to present building blocks for success

Lizzy Heurich

The Villanova School of Business, in team with the Business in Entertainment Society, presented “The Business Behind the Magic” on April 7. The presentation featured Jeff Miller, Villanova School of Business Class of ’79 and 25-year Disney veteran.

Miller, who holds the title of President of Worldwide Post Production and Operations of the Walt Disney Studios and founder of Disney Character Voices International, explained to the audience what he does for a living as he presented his “Ten Building Blocks for a Successful Career in Global Business Operations.”

Co-President and Co-Founder of the Business in Entertainment Society Jarred Cannon opened the presentation by explaining to the attendees what the organization’s duties and responsibilities entail. 

The society, which was just established this semester, focuses on helping students to “familiarizing themselves with the entertainment field, primarily the business side,” Cannon said. 

The club plans on achieving this through speakers and field trips. The organization’s goal is to expose students to the business side of the music, sports and media fields and provide students with opportunities to network with professionals in these fields.

Miller took the stage and began his presentation with this Walt Disney quotation: “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.”

With that quotation, Miller went on to discuss the evolution of the film industry from the beginning of film to the present. He cited specific highlights from the past 100 plus years, some of which included the year 1939, when “The Wizard of Oz” was partly in color and the switch over that the industry is experiencing now from film to digital film and 3-D.

Miller also discussed how movies in today’s industry are being produced in many more languages than in the past. Movies used to because the organization is seeking out individual voices that sound similar to the original actors in order to provide regularity.

At this point in the presentation, Miller showed the audience a clip from “Alice in Wonderland” that displayed the flow between different languages. The clip included segments from the Russian, French, Swedish, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Latin Spanish, Castilian Spanish, Polish, Japanese, Hebrew and Danish versions of the film.

Miller, who has also held positions in Buena Vista Post Production Services and Studio Operations and Warner Brothers, discussed his “Building Blocks,” or what he dubbed “How to Survive in Corporate America.” Some of his points included that business is a team sport which involves using effective communication, challenging the status quo, thinking long term and having a positive, can-do attitude. 

He ended the presentation with another Walt Disney quotation: “We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

When it comes to Disney movies, Miller’s favorite as a child was “Pinocchio” because it was “amazing how Walt captured the image of a child in that puppet.” But now his favorite is “The Little Mermaid,” because it was “the spark to the development of the company,” which restores old Disney films to digital film.

Following the presentation, there was a reception held in the lobby of Driscoll.  Students who attended the presentation had the opportunity to talk with Miller and ask him questions and for advice.The Business in Entertainment Society was very pleased with the turnout, especially considering it had limited time to publicize the event. Almost every seat was filled in the auditorium.

This Monday, the society will  host a Business of Sports Conference which will feature professionals from the Xtreme and Minor league sport industries, with a keynote speaker from ESPN.