Kylie Watson-Wheeler is the senior vice president and managing director for The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand. She is responsible for all areas of the company in Australia and New Zealand, which includes film, consumer products, digital, home entertainment distribution, and television.
Previously, Watson-Wheeler was responsible for driving Disney’s consumer product and retail businesses across fashion, apparel, toys, interactive games and digital products, home décor, books, magazines, stationery and fast-moving consumer goods; while also directing Disney’s retail sales strategy across all businesses, including home entertainment, e-commerce and direct-to-retail programs.
Before joining Disney, Watson- Wheeler was the director of advertising and brand management for Hallmark Cards Inc. Thinking back to that time, she remarks, “when I ran Hallmark U.S.’s sponsorship of, and involvement in, the Salt Lake Olympics, I was proud to lead a team of peers delivering a multifaceted, complex partnership that was executed flawlessly. It was when I first realized I could lead a team to achieve amazing things.”
She believes that leadership isn’t anointed. “I think you can be a leader regardless of your position or level of seniority. Leadership is about clarity of direction and consistent demonstration of work ethic, integrity and focus. This is the perspective I share with my team,” states Watson-Wheeler.
“My advice to anyone is to be open to new and different opportunities, and not think that a career path needs to be linear,” she relates. “I’ve worked across many different areas of The Walt Disney Company (consumer products, publishing, retail and marketing), and all of those varied experiences and learnings have shaped the person and leader that I have become.”
Watson-Wheeler feels diversity is all about welcoming and embracing different mindsets and perspectives. “As leaders of a business, it’s incumbent upon us to create a diverse recruiting panel to help guarantee a varied and rich slate of candidates for all open positions,” she explains. “Having a diverse workforce is not only the right thing to do, but quite simply, it’s also good business. Disney appeals to a broad range of consumers, and we need and want to be just as diverse as our customer base. The knowledge and insights we glean from reflecting our consumers is what helps us remain relevant to them.”