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Monday, May 18, 2020

Leadership Changes at the Walt Disney Company

by Ray Keating
May 18, 2020

May 18th brought announcements of big changes in the leadership team at the Walt Disney Company.

First, Kevin Mayer is leaving his position as Chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International division to take the position of Chief Operating Officer of ByteDance and CEO of ByteDance’s TikTok mobile video platform. Mayer led the launches of ESPN+ and Disney+, as well as the integration of Hulu into Disney. For good measure, as Disney’s Chief Strategy Officer, he played a key role in various acquisitions, including 21st Century Fox. When Mayer lost out to Bob Chapek for the position of Disney CEO, there was much speculation as to whether he would stay with Disney to continue to head up Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, or, as is often the case in the corporate world when losing out on getting the top spot, leave the company for a position elsewhere.

Second, Mayer’s replacement is Rebecca Campbell. She comes from being the President of Disneyland Resort, i.e., running Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, three resort hotels and Downtown Disney.

Third, Josh D’Amaro has been named to Chapek’s old job as Chairman of the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. D’Amaro, who comes from serving as President of the Walt Disney World Resort, will, as noted in the Disney press release, “oversee Disney’s iconic travel and leisure businesses, which include six theme park-resort destinations in the United States, Europe and Asia; a top-rated cruise line; a popular vacation ownership program; and an award-winning guided family adventure business. Disney’s global consumer products operations include the world’s leading licensing business across toys, apparel, home goods, digital games and apps; the world’s largest children’s print publisher; Disney store locations around the world; and the shopDisney e-commerce platform.”

After the CEO job, these are the two big positions at Disney. Campbell and D’Amaro are company veterans – Campbell having 23 years with Disney and D’Amaro 22 years.

Fourth, Jeff Vahle, formerly President of Disney Signature Experiences, will be taking D’Amaro’s former spot as President of Walt Disney World Resort. Vahle is a 30-year Disney veteran. 

Fifth, taking over Campbell’s spot as President of the Disneyland Resort is Ken Potrock, who has 25 years at the company, including as the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Disney Vacation Club.

Sixth, Kareem Daniel was named to head up Consumer Products, Games and Publishing as President. He formerly was President of Walt Disney Imagineering Business Operations, Product Creation, Publishing and Games.

And seventh, Thomas Mazloum, who was a Senior Vice President of Resort and Transportation Operations at Walt Disney World Resort, has been appointed President of the Disney Signature Experiences, which features Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney.

In a statement, Chapek was quoted, “I’m incredibly proud of the new leadership team at Parks, beginning with the segment’s Chairman, longtime Disney veteran Josh D’Amaro, and his newly announced team of Jeff Vahle, Ken Potrock, Kareem Daniel and Thomas Mazloum. These talented executives played pivotal roles while leading our exceptional cast members during the largest period of growth in the segment’s history, which included the expansion of our parks and resorts around the world, the addition of new attractions including two highly acclaimed Star Wars-themed lands, and a shift to more personalized experiences for guests. And I am confident that as they assume even greater responsibility and pursue new opportunities, these proven leaders will have an even bigger impact on the future of our company.”

Regarding Rebecca Campbell, Mayer’s replacement, Chapek said, “As we look to grow our direct-to-consumer business and continue to expand into new markets, I can think of no one better suited to lead this effort than Rebecca. She is an exceptionally talented and dedicated leader with a wealth of experience in media, operations and international businesses.  She played a critical role in the launch of Disney+ globally while overseeing the EMEA region, and her strong business acumen and creative vision will be invaluable in taking our successful and well-established streaming services into the future.”

On May 18, Disney’s stock price increased by better than seven percent.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution (now available at a deep discount) and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

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