Erin Trabel Youngs

Erin Trabel Youngs

Vice President, Experience Engineering and Enablement, Walt Disney Company
BS IE 1992

For her proven ability to inspire teams, cultivate future executives and lead the business strategy for Walt Disney Company’s large-scale operations worldwide, beyond existing theme parks and resorts.

Erin Trabel Youngs graduated from Purdue with a unique skillset — a major in industrial engineering and a minor in fine arts — that perfectly paved the way for her 32-year career with The Walt Disney Company.

One might say it was written in the stars that Trabel Youngs would end up working for the multinational entertainment and media conglomerate. Growing up, she visited the resort every year with her family, and in 1990, became the first Purdue student to be awarded a Disney co-op.

“My fondness for Disney led to my hope to one day work there and be a part of making the magic myself,” she said. “After coming across an article about the impact industrial engineers make at Walt Disney World, my Disney aspiration was cemented,” she said.

But engineering wasn’t always a walk in the park for Trabel Youngs. Coming from a small high school, she often was overwhelmed in her classes. She credits her academic advisor, Muriel “Midge” Keller (1932 – 2016), for being pivotal in her success.

“She pushed me to explore engineering, to believe in myself, even when I was drowning at times. The difference a caring, adult mentor can have on a student during that time in their lives cannot be overstated,” Trabel Youngs said.

She is grateful to Purdue for instilling engineering fundamentals and exposing her to diverse perspectives, all while having the flexibility to learn how to draw, create, and bring a story to life as she pursued her minor in fine arts.

In her career, Trabel Youngs advanced steadily from various industrial engineer roles to manager, director, and ultimately, vice president of five areas: finance; EPCOT; construction, horticulture, textile services and distribution services; industrial engineering, development and integrated facilities planning; and her current post in experience engineering and enablement.

She describes herself as having a driving intellectual curiosity and a passion for helping leaders shape their career development. Trabel Youngs has led thousands of people and managed a variety of areas, including business planning and development, organizational improvement, strategy, large-scale capital project identification and assessment, and operations efficiency.

Purdue honored Trabel Youngs in 2010 with the Outstanding Industrial Engineer Award, and she was twice recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow through Rotary International. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless and has been a member of the Rollins College Hamilton Holt School Board of Advisors.

Her proudest career achievement also was the most challenging “and by far the most rewarding,” she said. It came in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced Disney to shut down all of its parks. “So much was at stake, including business viability and the need to bring tens of thousands of people back to work. We had to reinvent how theme parks could operate safely,” Youngs said.

She knows it’s natural for engineers to seek out the clear and correct path but advises students to embrace the unknown.

“There are often many avenues to success, and most of them you probably don’t see at first,” she said. “Do your best and allow room for the unexpected.”

Career Highlights

2019-present Vice President, Experience Engineering and Enablement, Walt Disney Company
2015-2019 Vice President, Industrial Engineering, Development & Integrated Facilities Planning, Walt Disney Company
2014-2015 Vice President, Construction, Horticulture, Textile Services and Distribution, Walt Disney Company
2011-2014 Vice President, Epcot, Walt Disney Company
2007-2011 Vice President, Finance, Walt Disney Company
2002-2007 Director, Business Planning & Development, Walt Disney Company
1990-2002 Manager, Industrial Engineering, Walt Disney Company


1992 BS Industrial Engineering, Purdue University
1999 MS Business Administration, Rollins College