Behind The Scenes

Heroes Work Here: Chris Forando

Chris Forando, director of employee learning and development

Editor’s note: In March, the Walt Disney Company and President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger announced an important new initiative to recruit and hire military veterans across all segments of the company.

Heroes Work Here. Employ excellence. Hire veterans” is Disney’s pledge to find career opportunities for 1,000 veterans over the next three years. The company has launched a national campaign to encourage all employers to hire veterans. Additionally, employees will be encouraged to serve veterans organizations through Disney’s VoluntEARS program.

Wednesday, the Walt Disney Company played host to more than 400 guardsmen, reservists and veterans at its Burbank studio lot for the first of three Career Expo events this week. The Expo began with a ceremony during which Iger signed the Statement of Support for the Employer Support of Guard and Reserves (ESGR).

Mike Hill — Air Force veteran, SportsCenter anchor and ESPN Radio co-host — emceed the New York City Expo on Wednesday and spoke to ESPN Front Row about the event. Current employee veterans and recruiters from ESPN, the Disney-ABC Television Group, Disney Consumer Products, Marvel and others were present at the event.

This week, in honor of Memorial Day, Front Row is spotlighting some of ESPN’s employees who are also veterans. Today’s profile is Chris Forando.

ESPN's Heroes Work Here initiative was put into practice this year.

Hometown: Granville, N.Y.

Current Title: Director of Employee Learning and Development

Length of time at ESPN: July 2011

Favorite Team: Detroit Red Wings

What branch of the military were you in? How long were you enlisted for? What was your title?
I spent 12 years of active duty in the Coast Guard as a Lieutenant Commander. At the academy, I was the Director of Learning and Development. The last seven years there, I was an associate professor for organizational behavior and leadership development at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.

Were you only working in Connecticut?
No, I spent two years as a fisheries patrol officer in the Bering Sea in Alaska. I also spent three years in Washington, D.C. doing research and development. After that I was transferred to Connecticut to the Coast Guard Academy.

Why did you choose to work for ESPN?
I had a very positive experience with the recruiter. This gave me a sense of what the culture was like here. After my phone interview and the one on campus, I saw a positive level of engagement, enthusiasm and energy. What I saw here was a lot of teamwork and collaboration. A lot of people were committed to doing a great job, which was very consistent with what I saw in the military. Everything is team-based and about getting the mission done. I’ve really appreciated that here because I’ve seen how hard people work. The lengths that people go to help their teammates get the job done is impressive.

How do you feel your military background helps you now?
The military prepares you in a number of different ways. First, it teaches you how to be a leader. It teaches you how to manage difficult situations, discipline, perseverance and how to be an instrumental part of a team. It also teaches you how to be a part of something much bigger than yourself. Those are traits and characteristics that you can take anywhere you go. Especially now where I help others learn how to do their job more efficiently and effectively in a team environment.

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