Leadership Cohort is an engineering course required for all engineering majors. Like most 1 unit engineering courses, there was little excitement leading up to the first day. The course requires weekly readings, summaries, and reflections. The material is all about effective leadership, which I find interesting, but doing that along with every other junior level course makes it hard to appreciate. Luckily for us, last week’s assignment was a much needed change of pace.
The assignment for last week was to attend a two-hour speaker presentation by Garner Holt. The School of Business invites speakers throughout the semester to share their experience with students and provide insight on the world outside of the classroom. To be honest, I was not very excited when I was told that I needed to sit in a packed room for two hours on a Thursday night. I found a seat in the back and planned out the quickest exit route. After he began presenting, though, I didn’t want to leave.
Garner Holt is the founder of Garner Holt Productions, which is largest producer of animatronics in the world. The presentation consisted of a video summarizing the birth of the company and current products followed by Holt speaking of the company’s current operations. His company is responsible for animatronics in Disneyland, including the Cars in Radiator Springs Racers, Jack Skeleton in the Haunted Mansion, the fire-breathing dragon in the “Fantasmic” show, and many more in the other Disney parks worldwide. He even created the singing robotic mouse at Chucky E. Cheese. I find those things incredible creepy, but learning the process of the creating them was fascinating. What was even more incredible was his story. He taught himself how to create simple animatronics as a kid and even created a small haunted house for a local mall at only 14 years old. He started his company at 16, and today is the leader in the industry. He is a Christian, too, and shared how that has shaped business as well. Such an incredible guy.