Alumni Spotlight: Jill Le Grand

At Disney, career has been a “happily ever after” for Jill Le Grand, G’96, WG’96. She joined Disney after her two years at the Lauder Institute. She left once for Vivendi Universal but returned to Disney and now lives in France, heading finance for three categories for its EMEA region.

It was sort of a homecoming for her on the Continent. As a young adult after Barnard College and two years in investment banking, Le Grand “ran away” to Paris without a knowledge of the language or anyone there. She planned to stay six months. That turned into more than two years. She worked for a nonprofit and helped develop its financial accounting system. Then came KPMG. After that, Le Grand return to the States and Lauder.

Jill Le Grand-3W

During those formative years, she learned an important life lesson: Not to define herself by her work.

“It’s finding out who you are, and doing exactly that in your everyday life,” she says. “I am also creating an environment where family comes first.”

That philosophy has translated into professional success. After Lauder, she enjoyed an onward and upward trajectory at Disney— from finance roles, to category management, to product planning. When she made that move to France with husband and fellow Disneyite Jerome Le Grand, WG’96, she earned the finance director position, EMEA, in the fashion, home and publishing lines.

In any given day, she might be negotiating contracts with fashion brands, evaluating business opportunities in new product areas or exploring new business models. She travels a bit and spends what time is left on the phone.

“I like knowing that every day I will be talking to people from different countries. And I like that I am helping people break through obstacles to achieve a common objective,” she says.

Her hectic schedule brings us back to the work/life integration principle learned by a young Le Grand (remember: not to let work define her).

With what is left of her time, today’s Le Grand devotes herself to her family (daughter, 11, and Jerome), and she likes to ride her bike and read (and not talk on the phone).

“Basically, I don’t have a lot of time for myself,” she admits.

—Matthew Brodsky