Finding Disney's next CEO is Bob Iger's 'number one priority'

Nicole Sinclair
Markets Correspondent

Bob Iger has been CEO of Disney (DIS) since 2005. In March, the company announced it would extend his contract until July 2019, the third extension of his tenure.

Iger told Yahoo Finance that he’s waiting a bit longer for the end of his Disney story in order to make sure the right person is chosen for a very complex job.

“We will find that person at the right time. My number one priority is that,” Iger said. “Secondly, I want to make sure that that person is set up to succeed because the company is set up for success.”

“It takes a variety of different skills to run a company that is as diverse as this,” he added. “It also takes a tremendous appreciation for Disney’s place in the world and how this all happens.”

Iger said his successor will need to clearly understand the genesis of Disney.

“Appreciating the value of the brand but also how the brand’s value actually was created is vital,” he said. “Someone steeped in that, whether they come from a business or whether they’ve been exposed to multi businesses will be a primary attribute.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger; AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Former Disney COO Tom Staggs, who had previously run the parks business, was considered the likely replacement for Iger, but Staggs stepped down last year.

Iger added that the person who succeeds him should have a strong appreciation for the increasing importance of technology.

“In this day and age, because technology plays such an important role, clearly an appreciation for its value, its impact [is important],” he said.

Creativity is also vital for his successor, as it’s at the heart of everything Disney does.

“It doesn’t mean that the person in the job needs to be a creator but needs to appreciate the creative process and appreciate and understand creators,” Iger said.

Iger’s key to living ‘happily ever after’

Iger attributes his own success is his passion for his job. “I’ve loved every moment of this, I love what I do, I love the businesses that I’ve been in, I love the businesses that we’re in,” he said. “There’s not been a day in the 43 years that I’ve worked at this company where I’ve shown up in the morning and haven’t been happy to be there … The opposite is true.”

“That enthusiasm which stems from a passion for these businesses has been an important ingredient in my career,” he added. “Curiosity is another one. I love people that are driven by curiosity, that powers them. I’m fortunate that I was wired that way. I love discovering new lands, trying new things, listening to new music, watching new plays … I think that’s very important for this company. It enables you to experiment, take risks, to appreciate a world out there that’s far more vast and a world that offers more potential to our company as we move forward.”

Focused on the company, and not a presidential bid—for now

When asked if he would consider tossing his hat into the presidential ring in 2020 in response to reported nudges by peers Iger said he was surprised the question keeps coming up.

“I’m quite curious why this question keeps coming up,” Iger said. “I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world. I actually think I have the greatest job in the world … That’s my focus, that’s my priority.”

He did jokingly add that wherever he ends up next, he hopes Tinkberbell, his favorite Disney character, joins him.

“I try not to single characters out cause they get jealous of one another,” Iger joked. “I’ve always loved Tinkerbell. I know that sounds odd. But there’s a fanciful quality to Tinkberbell and an impishness and a curiosity … I just love her joie de vivre … She has a twinkle in her eye and seems to be enjoying her world.”

Nicole Sinclair is markets correspondent at Yahoo Finance.

More from Yahoo Finance’s interview with Bob Iger:
Bob Iger tells us about Disney World’s most ambitious attraction in years
Disney CEO: ‘We were not hacked’

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