The Walt Disney Company names new CEO

The Walt Disney Company has named Bob Chapek as its new chief executive officer, as former CEO Robert A. Iger assumes the role of executive chairman. Chapek (pictured right) most recently served as chairman of Disney Parks, experiences and products since the segment’s creation in 2018, and prior to that was chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts since 2015.

Iger (pictured left) will be tasked to direct the company’s creative endeavours in his new position as executive chairman, while leading the board and providing the benefit of his experience, leadership and guidance through the end of his contract on 31 December 2021. Iger, over the past 15 years, has built Disney into one of the world’s largest and most admired media and entertainment companies, home to some of the most respected and beloved brands around the globe. According to Disney, he is also lauded for demonstrating his strategic vision for generating the creative content; fostering innovation and utilising the latest technology; and expanding into new markets around the world.

According to Iger, with the launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of Twenty-First Century Fox underway, this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO. Chapek will be the seventh CEO in Disney’s nearly 100-year history, and Iger said that throughout his career, Chapek has led with integrity and conviction, always respecting Disney’s legacy while at the same time taking smart, innovative risks for the future.

“I have the utmost confidence in Chapek and look forward to working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role and delves deeper into Disney’s multifaceted global businesses and operations, while I continue to focus on the company’s creative endeavours,” he added.

"His success over the past 27 years reflects his visionary leadership and the strong business growth and stellar results he has consistently achieved in his roles at parks, consumer products and the studio. Under Chapek's leadership as CEO, our portfolio of great businesses and our amazing and talented people will continue to serve the company and its shareholders well for years to come,” he said.

In Chapek’s new role as CEO, he will directly oversee all of the company’s business segments and corporate functions, and report to Iger, and the board of directors. He will be appointed to the board at a later date, while a new head of Disney Parks, experiences and products will be named at a future time.

Chapek said that he shares Iger's commitment to creative excellence, technological innovation and international expansion, and aims to continue to embrace these same strategic pillars going forward.

Everything we have achieved thus far serves as a solid foundation for further creative storytelling, bold innovation and thoughtful risk-taking.

As chairman of Disney Parks, experiences and products, Chapek oversaw the company’s largest business segment, with operations around the globe and more than 170,000 employees worldwide. The segment includes Disney’s travel and leisure businesses, encompassing six resort destinations in the United States, Europe and Asia, a cruise line, a vacation ownership program, and a guided family adventure business. Disney’s global consumer products operations include the licensing business across toys, apparel, home goods, digital games and apps, the children’s print publisher, Disney store locations around the world, and the shopDisney eCommerce platform.

During his tenure at the parks segment, Chapek oversaw the opening of Disney’s first theme park and resort in mainland China, Shanghai Disney Resort; the addition of numerous guest offerings across Disney’s six resort destinations in the US, Europe and Asia. This includes the creation of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World and the addition of Marvel-inspired attractions around the globe; and the expansion of Disney Cruise Line with the announced construction of three new ships.

From 2011 to 2015, Chapek was president of the former Disney Consumer Products segment, where he drove the technology-led transformation of the company’s consumer products, retail and publishing operations. Prior to that, he served as president of distribution for The Walt Disney Studios and was responsible for overseeing the Studios’ overall content distribution strategy across multiple platforms including theatrical exhibition, home entertainment, pay TV, digital entertainment and new media. He also served as president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, where he spearheaded the “vault strategy” for the company’s films and transformed the primary format of home entertainment from DVD to Blu-ray.

Before joining Disney in 1993, Chapek worked in brand management at H.J. Heinz Company and in advertising at J. Walter Thompson.

Susan Arnold, independent lead director of the Disney Board, said the board has been actively engaged in succession planning for the past several years, unanimously elected Chapek as the next CEO of The Walt Disney Company. "Chapek has shown outstanding leadership and a proven ability to deliver strong results across a wide array of businesses, and his tremendous understanding of the breadth and depth of the company and appreciation for the special connection between Disney and its consumers makes him the perfect choice as the next CEO," she added.

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