When Rob Stange toured Missouri State University, he had a gut reaction.
“I had this feeling in my stomach, this is where I belong,” said Stange.
Destined to be a Bear
Through the College of Business, Stange earned a marketing degree in 2006 with an option in advertising and promotion. An MBA followed in fall 2007.
At MSU, he found mentors and life-long friendships, but one experience particularly molded his future. He was the pilot teaching assistant in Dalian, China.
“I didn’t realize how much I loved international business until I went to China. That is where I had the realization of how much the world is getting smaller and how much more of a global mindset we need to have,” Stange said.
The experience helped him land his first job — as a business analyst with Target in Minneapolis. They wanted to interview him because of his experience in China.
“The entire teaching experience propelled me into my career with Target,” he said.
Stange found a love for retail merchandise while at Target and enjoyed six great years with the company. However, a door opened for him to join his dream company, Disney.
Living the dream
Today, Stange is senior manager, Global Merchandise Sourcing for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. He and his team source, negotiate cost and manage the production/delivery of Disney Parks products. They collaborate with suppliers around the globe to translate their merchandisers’ ideas into reality.
“My team’s primary expertise resides in non-apparel merchandise — toys, home décor, souvenirs, collectibles, and packaged consumables,” he said.
His team also sources the entire merchandise assortment for Disney Cruise Line; Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii; Disney Parks special events, and World Showcase at Epcot.
“The world is constantly changing and my personal goals are to make sure I am evolving, my team is evolving and we are driving product strategies that are keeping up with the world as fast as we are moving,” Stange said.
Earlier this year, Stange’s hard work was recognized as he received The Walt Disney Legacy Award, the highest honor bestowed on an employee in the company.
Starting early on
Stange was in preschool the first time he visited Disney and he made many trips back to the theme park.
When he was 12, Stange asked park officials about internship opportunities. By the time he was a sophomore in high school, Stange knew he wanted to work in some form of communication. He loves to write and considered advertising and journalism, but was drawn to the business application.
“The way the program was built taught me to be interdisciplinary. In order to be effective in my advertising courses, I had to understand the full realm of the business. It forced me to work as a team with others. It taught me how to work within a company. That is one thing I love about MSU, they taught us the theory but brought in a lot of real-world experience,” Stange said.
When he joined Disney in 2014, he was manager, promotional products. Four years ago, he was promoted to his current position.
Every day is different
“A typical day for my team is partnering with our fellow Disney Cast Members (employees) to understand their merchandise strategies regarding product quality, design, profitability and inventory needs. Then, we work with our suppliers to decide who should produce the merchandise and where in the world it should be manufactured. Each day is different for me depending on whether we’re sourcing an interactive toy, coffee mug or even a dessert for people to enjoy in the parks,” Stange said.
It’s a pretty cool career, but especially when you’re a dad. Stange and his wife Heidi have one daughter, Lila YuYu, and are expecting another child.
“YuYu used to tell people Mickey Mouse was one of her best friends. We loved going to Disney before having a child, but having YuYu brings back so many memories,” Stange said. “I feel blessed to work for a company that brings so much joy around the world.”