My name is Rafael “Rafa” Macias and I’m so excited to continue the celebration of Hispanic and Latin American Heritage Month by sharing my story. I work as Senior Vice President – Third Party Retail for Consumer Products, Games and Publishing, where I lead our amazing sales, retail marketing, brand development and analytics teams, extending storytelling from our beloved franchises through products in all categories across retailers.
My journey with Disney began in 2001 when I accepted a sales role at The Walt Disney Company Mexico. After some time, I had the exciting opportunity to relocate to the United States and lead Latin America & Asia Pacific sales for Walt Disney Studios, where I grew both professionally and personally. Through this role, I learned the importance of cultural fluency and approaching every project and campaign with empathy.
As a representative of my Hispanic community and a Disney leader, I am fortunate to bring ideas to the table that relate to my experiences on a personal level, and with these opportunities I feel a responsibility to open doors for others like me. One of the ways I get to fulfill that sense of responsibility is by serving as Executive Champion for Mas+, an employee resource group created to support the advancement of Hispanic and Latin cast members across The Walt Disney Company who are based in Burbank and Glendale, California.
I also get to see my culture and professional work merge through key projects. In fact, one of my favorite examples during my time working on Star Wars was a campaign Campbell’s Soups did that I feel really got it right. When I was growing up in Mexico, I always thought R2D2’s real name was “Arturito” because that’s what it sounded like, and learned pretty quickly that many other families across Spanish-speaking countries shared this experience. With this insight, a commercial was produced where a mom goes to the grocery store with her young son who is asking for “Arturito” soup. After some confusion and help from a store employee, they’re able to find the R2D2 Campbell’s Soup! Avoiding stereotypes and doing the work to find these authentic insights is only possible when you have the right people at the table.
I appreciate being able to celebrate my Mexican culture at work, and it’s also something my wife and I try to instill in our kids. We visit my family in Mexico as often as we can, especially around the holidays. Some of our favorite Mexican traditions are Día de Muertos and Three Kings’ Day, where we cook traditional Mexican treats like Rosca de Reyes, tamales and Pan de Muertos. (Although, I don’t think my children ever forgave me for not keeping the Mexican holiday tradition of Children’s Day!)
We as Latin Americans are vocal, lively people, and that’s something I encourage everyone I work with to embrace in their role. Disney is a place where everyone can bring their full, authentic selves to their job and know they will be welcomed.
My advice to every emerging Hispanic and Latin American professional is to know that what you bring to the table has value, and make sure your voice is heard. Your unique experiences and ideas can be the difference in breaking through on a major campaign or project. I also recommend finding a mentor – somebody who will be your champion and help you use your voice. A quote that has always stuck with me is: “A positive attitude leads to success.” I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t prioritize bringing a positive mindset and my authentic self to everything I do.
It’s so nice to read the human stories at the intersection of personal + professional life intersection. What a terrific example here; thanks Rafa!
Welcome to the blog Mr. Rafael!