Executives Who Started at the Bottom

When I learned that Pete Renaday started his career in the Disney Studio mail room, I began to wonder if others also started at the bottom.

I Googled ‘executives who started at the bottom’ and found several web articles, here is one example, one of the more recognizable names is Simon Cowell.


Many people get college degrees, expecting to start at the top, or at least in the middle.  But I found that many successful people started at the bottom, and rose to the top through personal initiative, hard work and determination to show what you can do.

The Voice of Henry the Bear Started in the Mail Room

I was listening to an interview with Pete Renaday.  Pete is a voice talent, to Disney fans he is most famous for being the voice of Henry the Bear in the Country Bear Jamboree at Walt Disney World.

He started out in the mail room at the Disney Studio when he was young.  The mail room has traditionally been a place where people start their careers.  It’s like ‘paying your dues’ before you get a better job.

After a while in the mail room, people started asking Pete “What do you want to do when you grow up?”  Meaning, what job do you want to move up to?  Pete didn’t have a clear idea, although he always wanted to be an actor.

He started doing voice acting, and the Disney Imagineers had him do the voice of Henry the Bear.  It was supposed to be just a temporary voice, while the Imagineers found the ‘real’ voice.

But after months of listening to Pete’s voice as Henry, they decided it was the right voice after all, so they kept it.  Pete started at the bottom in the mail room, and made a career out of voice acting.