ESPN Creates a High-Tech Virtual Community for Career Development

The ESPN Career Center is the recipient of the 2022 Employee Engagement Award presented by C2HR and our awards partner, Cablefax.

Dayana FalconESPN is full of talented employees who produce some of the most innovative, exciting sports coverage and original content around the world. Retaining those employees by matching the quality that ESPN delivers to its viewers with equally impressive employee experiences is the goal of the ESPN HR Talent Management department.

“One of the many ways we’re elevating the employee experience is to really strengthen a culture of career at ESPN so all of our employees, across all levels and all segments of the company, feel that The Walt Disney Company is a place where employees never stop growing and their careers are limitless,” says Tonya Cornileus, Senior Vice President of Learning & Talent Solutions at The Walt Disney Company.

With career development as a priority, Cornileus and our team developed the idea of modeling our efforts after the career counseling provided by many universities. “We knew we had to provide a way for employees to connect to internal talent mobility opportunities while building internal connections and networks,” explains Cherita McIntye, Senior Director of Talent Management and Development at ESPN. “As a university career counselor, I saw firsthand how valuable that could be.”

The project took off when I joined the HR Talent Management team at ESPN, transferring from a sales marketing role at our parent company, The Walt Disney Company. I wasted no time after joining the team by developing a network of colleagues and stepping into leadership roles in several resource groups available to employees. I kept repeatedly hearing from employee resource group members that it was difficult to learn about career opportunities in other areas across Disney. With any large organization, it’s hard to understand what everyone does and what the opportunities are. We wanted to remove those silos and create best-in-class career services to support our employees in their career journeys.


Tapping into the abundant creativity within the organization, our team set out to create the ESPN Career Center with four primary objectives: personalization, community, gamification, and recognition. We were originally inspired by videos we had seen of teachers using Bitmojis in PowerPoint presentations to make them more engaging for their students at the beginning of COVID-19. But everything changed when a Microsoft partner suggested that we look at SharePoint spaces. When I saw the 3D environment in SharePoint spaces, my mind exploded with ideas. I imagined turning a sports studio set into a career center with an interactive environment that provided employees with endless possibilities to explore their career options.

ESPN Leveraged Corporate Culture with a Sports-Themed Virtual World

The vision quickly became a reality by using SharePoint spaces and a host of other technologies from Microsoft. And we created a virtual world despite not having a programming background. I didn’t know how to use any of this technology less than a year ago, it’s really intuitive, and you can just jump in and start experimenting. I also equally felt it was important to bring in ESPN’s business priorities to create a more immersive learning experience and tie into the organization’s mission and culture.


We are experiencing the highest engagement we’ve ever seen in Talent Management with our Career Center initiatives, and we plan to continue to elevate the employee experience for the next generation of talent with more apps, personalized AI Career Chatbot, team career experiences and more. The possibilities are endless in a virtual world.

Getting Started: Culture of Career Tips by ESPN

For our fellow colleagues in the HR community, while you are on your #FutureOfWork Journey with CAREER top of mind, here are five questions to help guide your career strategy:

  1. What are the career stages of our employees in our company?

  2. What are the common themes we hear from employees in looking for growth opportunities?

  3. What technology can we utilize to centralize our career strategy?

  4. In what ways are we recognizing and celebrating employees for best-in-class work?

  5. How are you sustaining your career initiatives and making them fun?

We are so elated to be selected as C2HR’s 2022 Employee Engagement Award of the Year for our efforts in creating the ESPN Career Center. We hope this serves as an inspiration to other companies to boldly invest in their teams and create equal access to opportunity.

To learn more about how we at ESPN are innovating for all things #FutureOfWork, #CultureOfCareer, #EmployeeExperience and #TalentMobility in this Microsoft Customer Success Story and follow ESPN on LinkedIn.

ESPN Engagement Award Acceptance Speech and Case Study Video



For a curated collection of articles on employee engagement (and 20+ more topics), please visit the HR Knowledge Center at HR Knowledge Center - C2HR.


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