5 Reasons Why StarPath is the Next Big Thing

Update on the Latest StarPath Class and How You Can Be a Part of It

This past year, Katie Gianturco and her team guided the two rounds of StarPath participants, and they are excited for more. Here’s why:

  1. It is a leadership development program for everyone.

“StarPath is a leadership development program designed to recognize and develop top talent at Guest Services,” says Katie. “We value our team members and their development, and this program facilitates team member growth.”

Due to the high number of qualified nominations, there were two classes this year; one around March, while the second program just ended at the beginning of November. The program was designed to occur on an annual basis, but the team anticipates the need to run StarPath twice again next year.

“Class one was very exciting because it was the debut of this program. We have been working on this program for a long time now, and it was the culmination of efforts by many people all across the company. It was also a learning experience for us, and based on the feedback we received from StarPath participants, StarPath leaders, and managers from the first class, we were able to make adjustments to enhance the experience for the second class. Our second StarPath program with five participants just ended last week, and based on preliminary feedback, the adjustments we made were very well received. So far, we have focused on developing team members at the assistant manager and general manager level, and we hope to continue to provide these and other team members development opportunities in the future.”

  1. It is a small class to allow for maximum collaboration and learning.

Katie says, “It’s important to us that we can focus on the development of each participant in the program individually; therefore, for logistical purposes, we retain a small StarPath class of 4-6 people per program session. The best part about this program is that learning is not restricted to one specific subject area; it utilizes a holistic approach to developing leaders within the company. First, we give participants the opportunity to learn from their fellow managers and leaders at Guest Services. They learn best operational practices from hands-on experience with our StarPath leaders, but they also develop leadership skills through StarPath. The participants receive leadership development training here internally, in which they learn more about Guest Services’ culture and best leadership practices.”

Katie facilitates the internal portion of the StarPath Program, and she loves helping our team members build their skill sets.

“I enjoy working with these participants because they are willing to put in the effort. The more you put in, the more you will get out of this experience. We have had some great conversations during the internal leadership training, in which we discuss and share our experiences and provide each other advice about how to take large ideas and distill them down into actionable takeaways.”

  1. You get to go to Disney as part of your training.

“As part of the external training portion of the program,  StarPath participants attend Leadership Excellence Training at Disney. It is an incredible program that helps our participants synthesize the leadership and operational skills that they learn through the StarPath program. We hope that participants learn how to crystallize their personal visions and values and align them with the company’s vision and values.  Successful leaders must be able to operationalize their values and communicate them to their team members to ensure that everyone is working towards a shared goal; that’s doing an effective job leading and motivating others, which, in turn, will allow all team members to grow into leaders.”

  1. Anyone can apply, or you can nominate a deserving team member.

“We utilize our selection criteria (which is found in the “About StarPath” brochure in CORE Learning) to determine which applicants are the strongest candidates at that point in time. Just because someone wasn’t selected to participate in  StarPath when they first applied, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be selected in the future. This program is very selective and competitive, and we hope that nominees who weren’t selected the first time around will continue working to strengthen their skills so that they will be ready to participate in StarPath in the future.”

  1. You get to enhance your career at Guest Services further.

“We are opening applications for the third class of StarPath participants within the next month, and the program will begin around March. We intend to run the program twice again next year because we have had so many great applicants, and we want to give everyone a chance to go through the program, regardless of when their operations are in season. Providing that opportunity to employees at all locations is another big reason why we will run the program again in the fall.”

Katie has great hopes for the future of the StarPath program, and she is confident that it will be beneficial to all who are willing to partake in it.

“This program is an important part of Guest Services’ Training and Development Department’s mission to develop and grow internal talent. It demonstrates our commitment to investing in our team members and providing them with opportunities to grow in their careers with Guest Services. I hope, and believe, that it’s going to remain an important program that we utilize for years to come. I hope that ultimately we will be able to develop more team members and give them the opportunity to develop from StarPath participants to StarPath leaders, just as we have begun to do with past program graduates.”

Katie wants to thank the Guest Service Executive Team for prioritizing the development of their team members.

“This program would not exist if it wasn’t for the support of our Executive Team. StarPath is a cross-functional effort, and we appreciate the support that we have received from them and our corporate support teams and operators which has allowed this program to exist and, in turn, recognize and develop potential future leaders at Guest Services.”

We want to thank Katie and her team for developing an incredible StarPath program that will grow simultaneously with the participants involved:

Class One StarPath Participants: Michelle Osborn of Weeki Wachee, Patti Wiest of HPDTA, Renny Parziale of AFETA, and Tara Ruocco of Hogan Lovells

Class Two StarPath Participants: Alexis Groon of Paradise Inn, Boris Ardisoni of Moorings Park, Chris Sgro of WTC, Jessica Ivascu of ONI, and Mauricio Rojas of Sculpture Garden

If you are interested in being a part of the StarPath program, be on the lookout in your email for the nomination/application form coming soon!