Interview with Bill Hilton from Walt Disney World’s Parks and Resorts

Bill Hilton is the Director of Safety Services for Walt Disney World’s Parks and Resorts. In this role, Bill is responsible for leading a Safety organization focused on providing a safe environment for 74,000 Cast Members and approximately 50 million guests that visit Walt Disney World’s Parks and Resorts annually.

Bill has a diverse background, both professionally and academically, having earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology, with a composite minor in Science, and a Master’s Degree in Occupational Safety. Bill has enjoyed an established career in holding various Global Safety leadership roles; enabling him to bring a global view to the safety profession.

1) What do you feel are the biggest challenges safety leaders are currently faced with within their business?  

 Safety Professionals face some specific challenges around the measurement of meaningful safety results (i.e. metrics that inform vs. traditional lagging indicators), an aging workforce that is less well than it was 20 years ago, and how to effectively integrate safety and wellness in the workforce. Another challenge that the safety profession in the United States faces is the limited options for continuing education at the Doctorate level.

2) As a safety leader, what do you feel businesses continue to get wrong when it comes to their Health and Safety strategy?

It has been my experience that businesses which struggle with achieving their desired safety results, do so as a result of not aligning their safety strategies with the larger business mission, vision, and strategies.  At the business level, this means having an organizational structure designed to deliver on business and safety strategies to create long-term value.  At the safety organization level, this means having safety professionals who see themselves as business partners rather than solely technical experts – meaning they are thinking about risk rather than only regulatory requirements.

3) What is the best piece of advice you have received within your job over the years?

The best piece of advice I have been given came about while on an overseas assignment in Asia.  An Operations Executive, who spent much of his career working internationally told me, “As a safety professional you will know the solutions to problems, but that is not where your greatest value lies.  Your greatest value will be in your ability to teach others how to solve their problems.  By doing this, you will be developing talent which allows the company to help change the culture.”

4) What is one key takeaway you hope our OHS audience leaves with after hearing your presentation on site?

I hope the audience leaves with an understanding of the unique and diverse risk portfolio that safety professionals at Disney’s Parks and Resorts manage.  Unlike most environments found in more traditional industry settings, we are constantly challenged to help our partners deliver the Disney Magic…safely.

About Walt Disney World’s Park and Resort
The Walt Disney World® Resort features four theme parks — the Magic Kingdom® Park, Epcot®, Disney’s Hollywood Studios™, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. More than 20 resort hotels are on-site, offering several thousand rooms of themed accommodations. The nearly 40-square-miles of the Walt Disney World® Resort also feature two water parks, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park; the Downtown Disney® Area, a daytime and nighttime shopping and entertainment complex; two full-service spas; and recreational facilities including championship golf courses and a 200-acre sports complex. Complete convention and banquet events, from conferences to weddings, are tailored for business and leisure groups. In addition, off-site vacation destinations include Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.

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