Lee Cockerell retired as the Executive Vice President of Operations for the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, a position he held for ten years. His responsibilities encompassed a diverse mix of operations, which included 20 resort hotels with over 24,000 Guest rooms, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 5 golf courses, a shopping village & nighttime entertainment complex, a sports & recreation complex, and the ancillary operations support functions. The Resort serves millions of guests each year and employs 73,000 Cast Members.
Lee joined the Disney organization in July 1990 as Director of Food and Beverage and Quality Assurance for the Disneyland Paris hotels. Prior to joining the Walt Disney World Co., he spent seventeen years in various executive positions with the Marriott Corporation and eight years with Hilton Hotels.
Lee has served as Chairman of the Board of Heart of Florida United Way, the Board of Trustees for The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the board of the Production and Operations Management Society and the board of Reptilia a Canadian attractions and entertainment company. In 2005 Governor Bush appointed Lee to the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Public Service for the state of Florida where he served as Chairman of the Board.
In 2008 Governor Brad Henry of Oklahoma named Lee as a Creative Ambassador to assist the state in leadership and business development.
One of Lee’s major and lasting legacies was the creation of Disney Great Leader Strategies which was used to train and develop the 7000 leaders at Walt Disney World. Lee has held various executive positions in the hospitality and entertainment business with Hilton Hotels for 8 years and the Marriott Corporation for 17 years before joining Disney in 1990 to open the Disneyland Paris project.
He is now dedicating his time to public speaking, authoring a book on leadership, management and service excellence titled, Creating Magic…10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney. which is now available in 13 languages and his latest book, The Customer Rules…The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service. Lee also performs leadership and service excellence workshops and consulting for organizations around the world as well as for the Disney Institute. Lee has received the following awards;
- Golden Chain Award for Outstanding leadership and business performance from the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operations Association (MUFSO).
- Silver Plate Award for Outstanding Operator in the foodservice industry from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA).
- Excellence In Production Operations Management and Leadership (POMS) from the Productions and Operations.
- Grandfather of the year from his three grandchildren, Jullian, Margot and Tristan.
Lee and his wife Priscilla live in Orlando Florida.