Meet the People Who Run Disney
The Walt Disney Company has spent the past few weeks secretly fighting a proxy battle against an activist investor, Nelson Peltz.
Throughout this confrontation, Disney has resisted the idea, hoping to keep its total number of Board members to 11. And this leads to a logical question.
Who are the people who run Disney, and how did they get there?
The average Disney fan or business analyst could name at most three members of Disney’s current of Board of Directors.
Arnold counts as one of the three for a pair of reasons. First, she has held a position on Disney’s Board for the longest time.
Arnold first joined in 2007, eight years before the second-longest tenured executive.
At the time, the executive worked as Vice Chairman of P&G Beauty & Health at The Procter & Gamble Company.
When Disney announced Arnold’s joining, it noted that her current job responsibilities had delivered sales of nearly $29 billion in fiscal 2006. She’s a corporate rainmaker.
Arnold proved adept as a Disney member, which led to her promotion to her current job. She currently holds the top position at Disney as Chairman of the Board.
Alas, Disney’s Board bylaws term-limit Board members to 15-year terms.
So, Arnold will leave the company in March, reducing the number of Disney Board members to 11.
Ms. Barra claims an outsized historical footprint in corporate America. In 2014, she became the first female CEO of a Big Three automaker.
Barra started her career as an 18-year-old co-op student at General Motors. She used her salary from that job to pay for her college education.
Then, Barra’s life came full circle when she earned the CEO position at General Motors. She’s also the Chairman of the Board there. She joined Disney’s Board in 2017.
The Israeli-Romanian-American Catz is a familiar name in tech circles. She has held countless roles at Oracle since 1999.
In 2001, Catz joined Oracle’s Board of Directors. Then, she participated in an unusual Co-CEO arrangement with the late Mark Hurd in 2014.
Once Hurd fell ill in 2019, Catz took over as Oracle’s sole CEO, a position she holds to this day. She joined Disney’s Board in 2018.
This entrepreneur’s career has included executive positions such as Executive Vice President and Executive Advisor at Cisco Systems, Inc.
However, Chang has also founded her own startup, Accompany, Inc., where she was previously the CEO. Cisco purchased Accompany for $270 million in 2018.
Chang currently sits on the Boards of Procter & Gamble and Marqeta, roles she once shared with Calvin McDonald, whom we’ll discuss in a bit.
At 45, Chang is the youngest member of Disney’s Board.
When Disney seeks new board members, it casts a wide net. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised by the presence of Board member, Francis deSouza.
The current CEO of Illumina previously worked as the founder of IMlogic, a company that Symantec purchased.
Later, deSouza joined Illumina, a company attempting to sequence the human genome at an inexpensive price.
deSouza got his start with Flash Communications, an instant messaging/buddy list tech company that Microsoft purchased in 1998.
So, this executive has been founding and/or selling companies for a quarter-century, even though he’s just now 52. deSouza joined Disney’s Board in 2018.
A ten-year veteran of Facebook/Meta, Everson became the most recent member to join Disney’s Board.
This hiring occurred late in 2022 when Daniel Loeb’s Third Point requested a position on Disney’s Board.
As far as job titles go, Froman has claimed two impeccable ones. First, he was Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs.
Later, Froman served as the U.S. Trade Representative, one of the most prestigious American job duties possible.
Previously, Froman worked as President and Chief Executive Officer of CitiInsurance.
Since 2018, he has worked at Mastercard Inc as Vice Chairman and President for Strategic Growth.
Froman has served on Disney’s Board since 2018 as well.
Here is the one person I would have expected you to name from Disney’s Board. Of course, even that statement comes with an asterisk.
Bob Iger famously took over as Disney’s CEO in 2005, one of the most tumultuous periods in company history.
At the time, then-CEO Michael Eisner was fighting Disney’s Board, which had voted to strip him of his title as Chairman of the Board.
Iger held a low profile for someone gaining such a storied job title. However, the executive more than lived up to his reputation.
In fact, when Iger announced his retirement in 2020, many headlines proclaimed him the most successful CEO of the 21st century.
Sadly, the one thing Iger didn’t do well involved his succession plan. He named Bob Chapek as his CEO replacement, a move that proved disastrous.
In November 2022, Iger returned as CEO. He also rejoined the Board, a place where he had held the title of Executive Chairman as recently as New Year’s Eve, 2021.
Once Arnold retires, the longest-tenured member becomes Maria Lagomasino.
This executive has held titles of Vice-President or higher at companies going all the way back to 1983! That makes her a 40-year veteran of high-level corporate America.
At various points, Lagomasino has held CEO titles at JP Morgan Private Bank and Asset Management Advisors.
Lagomasino has also held a spot on Coca-Cola’s Board since 2008. She joined Disney’s Board in 2015.
One of the newest members of Disney’s Board is Calvin McDonald, who joined in 2021.
The executive earned his reputation in 2018 when he became the CEO of Lululemon.
He previously sat on the Board of Procter & Gamble, where he worked with Chang and current Disney CFO, Christine McCarthy. Connections like this aren’t unusual in corporate America.
Athletic shoe fans are intimately familiar with Mark Parker, an entrepreneur with a similar origin story to Iger.
Both individuals started at the bottom but eventually worked their way to the top of their companies. Parker’s Nike career began in 1979.
In 2006, Parker succeeded William Perez to become Nike’s CEO. Perez lasted only a year on the job due to friction with the company’s founder and first CEO, Phil Knight.
Parker proved exceptional at his job, earning Fortune’s prestigious Businessperson of the Year award in 2015.
The following year, voters elected Parker to Disney’s Board, a position he has held ever since.
Late in 2022, reports revealed that Parker had almost accepted the role of temporary CEO at Disney while the company decided how to replace Bob Chapek.
Then, in early 2023, Disney selected Parker as Susan Arnold’s replacement as Chairman of the Board.
Presuming that Parker wins this vote in March – and it’s really a formality – he’ll become Disney’s 11th Chairman of the Board.
Notably, Parker would also be Disney’s sixth Chairman since 2004. That fact speaks to Disney’s 21st-century chaos.
After Arnold retires, Parker will become the second-longest tenured member of Disney’s Board. Theoretically, a 15-year term limit wouldn’t affect him until 2031.
This executive has worked in the healthcare industry as Executive Vice President of CVS Health and President of CVS Caremark.
Rice previously worked for Eli Lilly and Company as CFO from 2006-2017. He joined Disney’s Board in 2019.
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