For the first time in Walt Disney’s 98-year existence, a woman has been chosen to the position of chairman.
Susan Arnold, a 14-year member of the Disney board of directors, will succeed Bob Iger at the end of the year.
She formerly worked for Carlyle Group, a worldwide investment business.
Mr. Iger, who served as Disney’s CEO for 15 years and stepped down in 2020, will depart the firm by the end of this month.
In a statement, Ms Arnold said, “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.”
She has also held prominent positions at several of the country’s largest corporations.
Ms Arnold has been an executive at Carlyle Group for the last eight years, having previously worked at consumer goods major Procter and Gamble and fast food behemoth McDonald’s.
Mr Iger said, “Susan is an immensely regarded leader whose breadth of experience, steadfast honesty, and excellent judgment have been helpful to the firm since she first joined the Board of Directors in 2007.”
Following criticism from corporate governance experts, investors, and, in some circumstances, authorities, significant corporations are shifting away from management systems where the chief executive and chairman functions are held by the same person.
Mr. Iger’s departure marks the end of an era at Disney, where he has held executive positions since 1996.
During his tenure as CEO, Disney completed a number of significant purchases, including Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox. The company established its first theme park and resort in mainland China in 2016.
Several additional Disney executives, including studios head Alan Horn, president and chief creative officer of Disney Branded Television Gary Marsh, and corporate general counsel Alan Braverman, have revealed plans to leave by the end of the year.