The newly anointed chief of Walt Disney Company has spent decades in the Magic Kingdom overseeing its theme parks, product licensing, and film distribution while rising to the throne.
Disney made a surprise announcement on Tuesday that chief Bob Iger has handed off the top executive post after building the media-entertainment powerhouse into the undisputed Hollywood leader.
Disney’s board named Bob Chapek, a 27-year veteran of Disney, the new chief executive, effective immediately.
Iger, who has been CEO for 15 years, will assume the role of executive chairman and ‘will direct the company’s creative endeavors,’ a Disney statement said.
Chapek will answer to the board and Iger, whose contract with Disney is set to expire at the end of next year.
‘Bob will be the seventh CEO in Disney’s nearly 100-year history, and he has proven himself exceptionally qualified to lead the company into its next century,’ Iger said of Chapek. ‘Throughout his career, Bob has led with integrity and conviction, always respecting Disney’s rich legacy while at the same time taking smart, innovative risks for the future.’
Chapek has delivered ‘stellar results’ in his executive positions at Disney parks, studio, and consumer products divisions, according to Iger. As chief executive, Chapek will run all aspects of the Disney business.
Chapek became chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts five years ago, and continued to head the segment when ‘experiences and products’ units were added in 2018, according to the company. In that role he was responsible for Disney’s largest business segment, which has global operations and more than 170,000 employees.
Chapek oversaw the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort, the company’s first theme park in mainland China. He also headed the addition of new Marvel-character-inspired attractions such as ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ at Disney theme parks.
Chapek’s list of accomplishments includes adding more ships to Disney Cruise Line and more to the company’s travel and vacation offerings.
From 2011 to 2015, Chapek was president of Disney consumer products unit that handles licensing brands or characters for toys, clothes, games, and apps, as well as running its real-world and online shops, according to the company.
Prior to that, Chapek was responsible for Disney Studios film and television show distribution to theaters and home entertainment services.
Prior to joining Disney in 1993, Chapek worked in brand management at H.J. Heinz Company and in advertising at J. Walter Thompson, according to his corporate biography. ‘Mr. Chapek has shown outstanding leadership and a proven ability to deliver strong results across a wide array of businesses,’ said Disney board lead director Susan Arnold.
‘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.’
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