Iger, who became the company’s CEO in 2005, was slated to step down in 2018, but in late March, the company announced that the board was extending his contract to July 2019. That was welcome news for investors, because Iger has been a very successful leader. Among other things, he has overseen the acquisition of Lucasfilm, Pixar and Marvel, and the company’s shares have grown nearly 400 percent during his tenure.
Iger’s contract extension is not just a sign of success, however. With the breadth and complexity of Disney’s business, finding the right person for the CEO job is not easy. The identification of a successor likely will be a key area of focus for the company over the next year, and Iger plans to work closely with the board in that effort. In addition, he will stay on as a consultant for three years after his contract is up—which could be something of a double-edged sword.
“That will be both a benefit and a challenge to Iger’s successor,” said Deborah Rubin, senior partner at RHR International and a member of RHR’s Board and CEO Services practice (RHR, in association with Chief Executive Group, has launched the CEO1000 Tracker).
“The benefit is that he has terrific knowledge and experience that could be invaluable to the next CEO. But with his successful track record, he may also cast a large shadow. That’s something that Iger, his successor and the board will need to keep in mind, and something they will have to navigate through carefully.”