The Walt Disney Company announced Wednesday that it has elected Susan Arnold to be its next chairman of the board, making her the first woman to helm the corporation in its 98-year history.
The entertainment conglomerate released a statement revealing that Arnold took the reins December 1. She replaced outgoing chairman Robert Iger, who was also the company’s CEO until February 2020.
Arnold has served on the Disney Board for 14 years, according to the press release, and also served as its independent lead director since 2018.
“Susan is an incredibly esteemed executive whose wealth of experience, unwavering integrity, and expert judgment have been invaluable to the Company since she first joined the Board in 2007,” Iger said of his replacement. “Having most recently served as independent Lead Director, Susan is the perfect choice for Chairman of the Board, and I am confident the Company is well-positioned for continued success under her guidance and leadership.”
“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,” Arnold stated.
She also added that she was grateful to Iger for “his extraordinary leadership over the past decade-and-a-half.”
While the Walt Disney Company has had eight chairmen throughout its history, including Walt Disney himself, they were all men, and the first woman brings with her a vast amount of experience, according to a resume released by Disney.
Previously, Arnold held high-ranking executive positions at a number of America’s most prominent corporations.
This includes stints at Proctor & Gamble, where she held at least four different executive roles, and eight years as a director of the McDonald’s Corporation. She was also an executive for investment firm The Carlyle Group for eight years.
Although Arnold seems destined for the role of chairman, she will have lofty shoes to fill, as Iger helped re-energize Disney into the multibillion dollar enterprise that it is today.
Iger oversaw Disney’s massive acquisitions of Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and 21st Century Fox. This has led to massive multi-film projects with Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars franchise, among others.
Iger also ushered in a number of groundbreaking entertainment entities throughout his time at Disney. This includes the oversight and construction of the Shanghai Disney Resort and the Galaxy’s Edge theme parks, as well as the launch of the Disney+ streaming platform.
This has made Disney one of the most valuable brands in the world, with total assets estimated at over $200 billion. Today, it is made up of numerous divisions, including theme parks, a cruise line, film studios, and also owns massive television properties such as ESPN, Hulu, and National Geographic.
Newsweek has reached out to the Walt Disney Family Museum for comment.