(CMR) For the first time in its 98-year-history, Walt Disney has elected a woman to chair its board. Susan Arnold, who has been a Disney board member for 14 years, will succeed Bob Iger at the end of this year.
Arnold, who has held many important roles in corporate America, was formerly an executive at Carlyle's global investment firm.
Mr. Iger, who stepped down as Disney's chief executive in 2020 after 15 years in the role, will leave the company by the end of this month.
“As I step into this new role as chairman of the board, I look forward to continuing to serve the long-term interests of Disney's shareholders and working closely with CEO Bob Chapek as he builds upon the company's century-long legacy of creative excellence and innovation,” Ms. Arnold said.
According to the BBC, her appointment comes as large companies move away from management structures where the same person holds the chief executive and chairperson roles after pressure from corporate governance experts, investors, and, in some cases, regulators to separate the two key positions.
“Susan is an incredibly esteemed executive whose wealth of experience, unwavering integrity, and expert judgment have been invaluable to the Company since she first joined the Board in 2007,” Mr. Iger said.
“Having most recently served as independent Lead Director, Susan is the perfect choice for Chairman of the Board, and I am confident the Company is well-positioned for continued success under her guidance and leadership. It has been a distinct honor to work with Susan and our many other talented directors, and I am incredibly grateful for the support and wise counsel they have provided during my tenure,” he continued.
During Iger's time as chief executive, Disney made several significant acquisitions, including the takeovers of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox. In 2016, the firm opened its first theme park and resort in mainland China.
Several other Disney executives have announced plans to leave by the end of this year, including studios head Alan Horn, president and chief creative officer of Disney Branded Television Gary Marsh, and company general counsel Alan Braverman.
“On behalf of the Board, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Bob Iger for his extraordinary leadership over the past decade-and-a-half,” Ms. Arnold said.
“Bob has led Disney to amazing heights both creatively and financially, with his clear strategic vision for delivering high-quality branded storytelling, embracing cutting-edge technology, and expanding internationally, and he’s left an indelible mark on The Walt Disney Company that will be felt for generations to come.”