Getting up early on a weekend isn’t for everybody. But it made the difference for Jan Coleman ‘06. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in business administration through the Weekend/Evening & Online College, ultimately sending her into an entertainment odyssey, in which she was recently named vice president, global marketing partnerships, multicultural marketing for The Walt Disney Studios, just as she was nearing her 10th anniversary with the company.
Early on, her career involved a wizard, not a mouse. “Before Disney, I worked as an executive assistant for the Harry Potter franchise,” she says. “We examined the breadth of the franchise and how Harry Potter is brought to life through different touch points through the various business units at Warner Brothers. We were also responsible for managing the relationship with J. K. Rowling. I learned how to manage a franchise and strategically and thoughtfully work with executives, filmmakers and the author.” Another highlight for Coleman was watching a concept turn into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.
A friend who was part of the production team at Disneyland brought her on as a temp for the park’s 50th anniversary. She still remembers the fun of going through the tunnels and the impression the event made on her. When she got the chance to join The Walt Disney Studios’ film division, Coleman really felt like she was living the dream. “I think when you go down to the parks, you want to be a part of it,” she says. “There is something hopeful and optimistic about Disney. Watching one of their movies can make you feel better about yourself and better about the world.”
Coleman relishes her present role. “We look at our film releases, and we know consumers have an emotional connection to our films and characters,” she says. “Brand partnerships allow us to connect our stories and characters to these consumers. It’s important to understand a brand’s ethos and purpose to identify the right film to partner on. From a multicultural perspective, I’m also ensuring that we work with brands that are authentically speaking to diverse consumers.”
Marketing during the pandemic was a key challenge for Coleman. There was the challenge of partners with media schedules and creative ready to go and working with them to adjust schedules. For example, a Pixar movie release date moved multiple times and ultimately land on the Disney+ platform. Looking ahead, Coleman says that Disney has some magical content ready as people return to theaters as pandemic-related restrictions loosen.
As for Mount Saint Mary’s, she believes it has some magic of its own. “I was nervous when I started, but the organization the professors brought to everything just made it so you never felt overwhelmed. You also felt they were behind you,” she says. “The student body was also wonderful, and I have great friends to this day from my time there. The camaraderie of the school makes it special.”