Consumer Products

How I Did It – Jessi Dunne

Jessi Dunne may have started out in straightforward consumer packaged goods sales, but after landing her first toyco job at Galoob, she got hooked on the creativity inherent in the kids biz. So when Disney came knocking, she couldn't say no.
June 14, 2011

The gig

EVP of brand-new consumer products division, Disney Mom and Babies that, along with giving information and support to new moms, offers products designed to meet their needs and those of their infants. The initiative is Dunne’s baby. The mother of a three-year-old and 13-month-old says ,“Living in this space of sleep deprivation and trying to balance work and motherhood” really had her looking at DCP’s research in the area through a finer lens, and that’s when the idea struck.


One of the things people might not know about Dunne is that she was a basketball star at her alma mater, St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Team captain in her junior and senior years, she led the SJU Hawks to their first appearance at the NCAA Tournament in 1985 and has since been inducted into the university’s Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Even now, she says the experience proves invaluable. “Involvement in team sports teaches a ton of lessons, from socialization to learning the importance of playing your assigned role,” she says. “In forming teams, you learn how to delegate and put the pieces together correctly. I’m part coach and a big cheerleader.”

Cutting the mustard

Right out of college, Dunne landed a job with a company known in the mid-’80s as R.G. French, home to that famous neon yellow mustard, French’s. After a few years of selling the product into grocery stores, she attended the company’s annual conference and saw the marketing execs presenting plans for the following year, and had an epiphany of sorts. “I thought that’s the job I want, and sweet-talked my way into the marketing department.” During her 10 years with the company she moved to the West Coast. Once she reached those sunny California shores, she wanted to stay put and took an interim gig at Delmonte, before moving to then-struggling Galoob Toys (now part of Hasbro). It turns out the decision put her on her current path. “I loved it. It was the perfect blend for me—appealing to my creative side in a very fast-paced industry that was a lot of fun.”

Emotional investment

In the eight years since joining Disney Consumer Products Dunne has held a number of management posts, most recently as EVP of global licensing— a job arguably larger in scope than the one she currently holds. But the new Mom and Babies division was her idea, don’t forget. “I get emotionally invested in things, and I thought the company had an opportunity here,” she says. So, after a lunch meeting with Disney chair Bob Iger to discuss the concept, he gave her the greenlight. “Ultimately, I want to be Andy Mooney and run DCP,” she adds. “But I thought someone’s going to do this for the company and how would I feel if it wasn’t me? I couldn’t live with that.”

About The Author
Lana Castleman is the Editor & Content Director of Kidscreen and oversees all content for Kidscreen magazine, and related kidscreen events.


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