Alexis Fiore is from Orlando, Florida originally, and grew up going to the Disney theme parks. Unlike most Clemson IE students, she knew what Industrial Engineering was before going to college and had her sights set on a degree in IE.
“I was very involved in Girl Scouts growing up, and I had a very STEM-focused troop. All of my friends’ parents were engineers, so I was always going to engineering camps and things like that. Engineers are especially valued very heavily in the theme park industry, so I was exposed to it at an early age and loved the idea.”
When Fiore was looking at different schools to pursue a degree in IE, she didn’t want to attend any schools in Florida and fell in love with Clemson. She ended up as a tiger, and loved her Clemson experience.
“I never really changed my major in college, and I always wanted to do industrial engineering, which is a pretty rare case. Most engineering is paired with science, while IE is paired with just a lot of math. I was taking very advanced math courses, and I really enjoy math and analytics.”
Fiore had previous internships, and realized that manufacturing was not what she wanted to pursue, which then led her to eventually intern at Disney. Her second internship experience was in the Disney costume department, where she was a project analyst and helped them with efficiencies running their costume operation and worked primarily in the cosmetology department and built a database management tool that helped manage their inventory for cosmetology.
“I then got an internship with Southwest Airlines the following summer, and that would have been a great company to work for as well. The next summer, I was working on my master’s project with Dr. Taaffe on a project with Samsung, which changed my view of manufacturing and made me appreciate the entire process of building something from a piece of metal.”
“There was also a point in my life where I was thinking about pursuing my PhD, but then I was offered another internship at Disney for Spring 2020. I worked at Disney for four months until it closed due to COVID-19 in April, but it was on the advanced analytics team, which is where I had the opportunity to build optimization models and more analytical tools.”
After working for Disney again, Fiore was referred to a smaller company that was looking for someone with simulation experience, which was a company called Integrated Insight for about a year and a half. She eventually decided to return to Disney because of her love for the company.
“When Disney had an opening and I applied for it, I got the job and started working back at Disney in April of last year. Now, I am not nearly as technical as I was in my previous job, and I wanted to move to do the more ‘people side’ of things. I am on the project development team at Disney now, which is the line of their business I support. I work on projects that are feature-development related to Hollywood Studios and Epcot, as well as the overall site. We recently had a large development in Hollywood Studios being Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, and a lot of development that has been recently opening at Epcot. I have been helping make decisions about where we should go next and what attractions we should build, and helping make these decisions by analyzing metrics and how well our attractions are performing.”
“We rate every attraction based on the metrics that IEs use. It has been a lot of fun, and I am the metrics expert. It has been such a fun journey so far at Disney, and I am excited to see what the future holds.”
She has been there about eight months, but she interned there twice prior to her current role. A lot of people from the IE department end up in executive positions at Disney because they get exposure to all of these different departments and then build those relationships with their internal clients.
“At Disney, it truly is its own world. Any line of business you can think of, Disney has it. I really like the aspect because I get to move around in the industrial engineering department especially. We move around every two to three years to support a different line of business. You get exposure to a variety of teams and executives, and learn a whole new line of business. It changes up your job, and you get a broad variety of experience.”
There is a wide variety of skills depending on where people work, and a lot of people with IE degrees aren’t specifically doing industrial engineering-specific roles. IE graduates are in a unique opportunity to really use all of the skills they learn in school; specifically process improvement and asking the right questions, looking at something and maybe realizing “there is a much better way to do this” or just testing different ways to improve processes.
“Everything taught in Clemson IE helps to show you how to ask those important questions and find out ways for things to be done more efficiently.”
“At Disney there are a variety of places you can work, and there are more heavy analytical teams. My IE position now is a mix between doing the analytical side of things, but also the consulting side of things. We have the opportunity to do analyses for Disney, but we get to share all of that information with the executives as well. Everyone wants the industrial engineer’s opinion, so they are very highly-respected in the industry for sure.”