Bob Iger

Bob Iger’s greatest challenge at Disney is finding the next Bob Iger

In his second round Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger has many things on his list.

The newly retired executive, aged 71 years old, must make Disney’s streaming business profitable, boost its stock price and bring back the magic of Disney’s culture following Bob Chapek’s turbulent tenure. He has to do it all in two years.

His greatest challenge? Find the next Bob Iger.

The announcement by Iger, who announced his return to the company he had led for 15 years, came with a mandate. Disney (DIS) stated that he has to not only “set the strategic direction of renewed growth at the company” but also “work closely with the Board to develop a successor to the Company’s leadership after his term ends.”

This is perhaps more difficult. The media kingdom of Disney has no obvious heir apparent. Iger, who was one of Disney’s most successful CEOs before stepping down and anointing Chapek in 2020, doesn’t have the best record in succession planning.

There are many candidates for the top positions at Disney, but it is difficult to determine who is the right fit. It’s a challenging job that requires a lot of learning for anyone who takes it, and this is only two weeks into Iger’s new tenure. He just arrived at Disney headquarters on Monday.

Someone has to step in. This person could come from outside, but here are some possible candidates currently at Disney.

Josh D’Amaro

Let’s begin with Josh D’Amaro, the chairman of Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products. He took this role over from Chapek when Chapek became CEO. D’Amaro is a Disney employee since 1998. He currently heads one of the company’s core business units.

D’Amaro is well-known and even loved by Disney park fans. He was able to avoid much of the criticisms about the parks (including rising prices) that Chapek received.

Iger and the board might be reluctant to choose another chairman for Parks to lead the company, given their experience with Chapek.

Alan Bergman

Chairman of Disney Studios Content Alan Bergman has been with the company since 1996. He was also president of Disney Studios between 2005 and 2019.

Bergman’s influence is evident in the blockbuster films Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars that have been released over the past decade. But can he bring the same success to the larger company?

Disney’s problems go beyond producing quality content and creativity right now. Iger believes that this is an important goal, so Bergman might not be the best choice.

Christine McCarthy

Christine McCarthy, Chief Financial Officer of the company, has been with Disney since 2000. She could be a candidate for Iger and the board if they are looking for someone who is more financially focused.

The most important thing Disney needs right now is to raise its stock price, which will mean making its streaming business more profitable. A leader that can see the whole company’s cost structure is a must for the company.

Matthew Belloni, however, pointed out that McCarthy had “no creative experience” and was “Chapek’s right-hand for three years.” This could hamper her chances of success rather than help.

Jimmy Pitaro & Dana Walden

Two executives are also from Disney’s TV business: Jimmy Pitaro (chairman of ESPN and Sports Content) and Dana Walden (chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content).

Perhaps Iger sees the future with one of these two since he is from the ABC TV side. Pitaro and Walden are both steady leaders in their respective roles.

Pitaro has been with Disney since 2010. He leads ESPN. The company is losing subscribers and has been the subject of concern by Dan Loeb, an activist investor who has suggested that the company should be spun off. (Loeb later changed his mind.

Walden is a Fox acquisition candidate who came over in 2019. She took her current position after Peter Rice, a high-ranking Disney executive, was fired in June. Other candidates have been immersed in Disney culture for much longer.

Bob Iger is the next Bob

Is it possible to replace Bob Iger?

This will be his most pressing question for the next two years. Because Disney is not like other companies, it is extremely difficult to find someone who can lead it.

Disney is a lifestyle brand that millions of people love. It sets the pace for the media industry.

Disney has seen many charismatic leaders since its founding in 1923. They have been able to mix magic and money-making, even under the shadow of their founder and name.

The board and Iger now have to find someone to not only take the company into the next 100 years but also preserve and build upon Iger’s legacy.

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