Francisco Lee, ’16, helps create happiness. As a member of Disney’s Consumer Insights and Measurement Analysis team, he uses data to improve the guest experience at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

Fran joined the organization as an intern in the Disney College Program, during which time he gained experience at the park’s Tomorrowland Terrace, greeting guests and providing assistance with food and beverage services. “I am able to create a better story and deliver a more complete analysis with the data we collect since gaining valuable experience in my internship. I saw firsthand how the park operates on a daily basis and what employees are doing out in the field. It opened my eyes to how the data is collected and provides a different viewpoint on raw numbers,” Fran said.

Fran came to Richmond as a first-generation college student. He was heavily involved in service-oriented activities in high school, including volunteering in a program which helped high school students avoid substance abuse and lead healthier lives. Once on campus he quickly sought out similar opportunities and became a member of the Bonner Scholars Program, a four-year commitment to sustained community engagement and social justice education. As a Bonner Scholar he volunteered at the Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club where he taught music and worked with the City of Richmond’s Department of Economic Development’s social services program to provide career counseling and placement.

During his junior year, Fran studied abroad in Korea at Yonsei University. “I had a fantastic time abroad,” he shared. “I hadn’t previously had the opportunity to visit Korea and explore my heritage. During my time I met family and learned so much about my ancestry. It was such a culturally enriching experience to be immersed in the day to day life.”

After a year abroad, Fran decided to take some time to explore life beyond Richmond and reconnect with his family in California. “I really needed time to reflect on what I wanted to do and the career path I would pursue,” he said. Returning to UR for his senior year, Fran found a lot of clarity in his business and management courses.

“I really missed interacting with the faculty while I was away. The small classes afford individual interaction with professors and collaboration among my peers. Dr. Kukar-Kinney and Dr. Lascu, among other respected faculty, were great influences in helping me think about transferring my skills to life after graduation,” he said.

His internship left such a mark on Fran that he decided to apply to the consumer insights position at Disneyland after graduating. “I have always been interested in Disney and loved the company culture,” he said. “Disney is a great combination of technology and creativity; it’s a place where you can combine both. My favorite thing about my job is seeing how we are making our guests’ experience better and continuously improving based on the feedback we receive.”

Fran’s office is within Disneyland, and he often uses his lunch to visit a favorite eatery on the grounds before returning to his desk an hour later. Since starting with the company this summer, he has been able to witness StarWars’ Land construction from the ground up and see the opening of Shanghai Disney. “It’s very rewarding to be a team member while these types of major developments are taking place,” he said.

The story wouldn’t be complete without asking a Disneyland insider their favorite ride. “It would have to be Space Mountain,” Fran shared. “Going in the dark and seeing all the stars is really cool. And it’s one of the fastest rides at the park, so that doesn’t hurt either.”