From the moment James Heath and Brianna Peralta met, they knew their mentorship relationship was special.
James and Brianna were part of the second group of Disneyland Resort cast members to participate in Thrive@Disney, a, one-on-one Business Employee Resource Group (BERG)-led mentorship program. This edition paired over 550 hourly and salaried cast together across teams and areas to embark on a nine-month mentorship journey, where they were encouraged to set and pursue goals around networking, relationship building and leadership.
“The Thrive program is an opportunity to give back,” said James, a program mentor and Disneyland park Guest Relations operations manager. “It’s connections, it’s partnerships, it’s growth and it’s a wonderful experience.”
Brianna, James’ program mentee and an attractions lead at Disney California Adventure park, recalls the first time they met. “He greeted me with such kindness and a warm presence … it made me so excited about my path with the company and for this mentorship experience.”
“We uncovered how much we have in common,” said James, whose 20-year Disney career includes experience in Brianna’s role in attractions. “We’re able to connect over similar shared experiences of just learning and growing in that role and navigating some of the challenges that come with it.”
James also shared how they bonded over similarities in their personalities and how they experience the world. “Early in our relationship, Brianna shared with me that she gets a little nervous in networking and socializing situations, and as she described how she felt, I blurted out, ‘Oh my gosh! Me too,'” said James. “It felt like she was describing my own emotions and experiences … [and] it enabled us to have some really great dialogue because we both understood where the other was coming from.”
“James really challenged me to build my confidence and my relationships with other people,” said Brianna. “He helped me find and create opportunities that helped me understand what my strengths were.”
One way James helped was through a mock interview, where Brianna brought her resume and answered questions. “James treated it like a real interview, and I remember being so nervous about it,” said Brianna. Afterward, James went through each question with Brianna and provided feedback.
“It was incredibly helpful and made the interview process not as scary to see from another perspective,” said Brianna. “I truly don’t know where I would be without James’ mentorship and guidance.”
A special moment between the pair was when James introduced Brianna to cast members in communications, a field that Brianna hopes to work in. “To hear Brianna in her element and to see those connections flying back and forth, I was filled with pride,” said James. “This is what this program is all about — bringing the right people together so they can pursue their dreams.”
“James is such a ball of light and energy, that it motivates me to do the best I can as a leader … and I have a friend for life,” said Brianna.
It was also an opportunity for James to reflect on the valuable lessons from leaders over his career. “Now it’s my turn to pass their stories and my own on to build the next generation of Disneyland Resort leaders,” he said.