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Kathy Kortte Kilmer

Director of Worldwide Sales Channel Planning and Analysis for Disney Destinations
BSIE '92

In recognition for her tremendous professional accomplishments in leading industrial engineering teams for worldwide Disney Destinations and her active and devoted commitment to Purdue University

Kathy Kilmer is all about putting engineering to work to solve problems. Theories and formulas are important, but to her, they are just a means to an end.

As a student at Purdue, what really made industrial engineering come alive for her was her time outside the classroom.

"The epiphany was when I was able to grasp how what I was learning could be applied in the real world," she says.

A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., she participated in a five-semester co-op for General Electric's motors division in Fort Wayne. It changed her life.

"Rotating semesters between working at General Electric and going to Purdue was an ideal way to understand the value of my education and to truly get the most out of what I was learning," Kilmer says. "I also learned quickly that it wasn't all about the books. In addition to a high GPA, I was involved with other things — not just to prove I could, but to gain the soft skills necessary to be successful."

Likely due to that ideal combination of a strong academic background and real-world experience, Kilmer was offered a job with Disney right after graduation from Purdue more than 20 years ago. She spent 19 years within the industrial engineering department, with the last eight as director of a team of 110 Disney employees, supporting all the Disney destinations around the world.

In Kilmer's current position at Disney, she oversees the planning and analysis team as well as the sales solution program management and delivery team. She says the best part of her career has been using her Purdue education to be a part of innovations in her field.

"I had the chance through leadership of the industrial engineering team to help develop new ways to apply IE techniques in the service industry," Kilmer says. "Our team has been so successful that I've been asked to share those lessons as a keynote speaker at many industry conferences."

Kilmer is a recipient of the Institute of Industrial Engineers' UPS Excellence Award for Minority Advancement and Purdue's Outstanding Industrial Engineer Alumni Award. She is also a fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and a member of Purdue's Engineering Co-op Hall of Fame.

She says she enjoys working at Disney for one basic reason: to help those visiting Disney make memories they will always cherish.

"I've enjoyed all of the opportunities I've had, first through industrial engineering and now in the sales and marketing area, to make an impact on our guests by helping to create even more incredible moments. To know that I can improve a guest's experience and that, in turn, might help create lifelong memories will always be a highlight for me."

Career Highlights

2011-present Director, Worldwide Sales Channel Planning and Analysis for Disney Destinations, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
2002–2011 Director, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Industrial Engineering, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
2000 MBA, University of Central Florida
1997 MS in operations research, University of Central Florida
1992-2002 Manager, Industrial Engineering at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
1992 BSIE, Purdue University
1990-1992 Industrial engineering co-op, General Electric Co.