After just 14 months on the job, Thomas Staggs will leave his current position as chief operating officer of The Walt Disney Company on May 6, the company announced Monday. The unexpected departure leaves Disney without the expected successor to chief executive officer Robert Iger, who will remain in his position for only two more years.
Staggs will remain employed by Disney in the role of special advisor to Iger through this fiscal year. The company gave no reason for the exit of an executive widely regarded as being groomed to take over the entertainment giant.
“Tom has been a great friend and trusted colleague for more than 20 years,” Iger said. “He’s made important contributions to this company, earning wide respect across the organization for his achievements and personal integrity. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together, immensely grateful for the privilege of working with him, and confident that he will be enormously successful in whatever opportunity he chooses.”
Staggs’ planned departure caps a distinguished 26-year career that began in Strategic Planning. He rose through the ranks to be named chief financial officer, earning praise from Wall Street for his financial and communications skills. Staggs also led Disney’s Parks & Resorts through an era of historic growth.
“Disney truly stands alone, not only because of the company’s phenomenal creativity, but also because of the thousands of remarkable people who make it such an extraordinary place. It’s been a privilege to work with them and be inspired by their creativity and commitment,” said Staggs, who was named COO in February 2015. “It’s also been a great experience to work with Bob during this dynamic era of unprecedented growth and transformation. I remain grateful for that opportunity, and I’m confident that Disney’s future will be just as exciting as its legendary past.”
With approximately two years left before Iger steps down as Chairman and CEO, Disney’s board of directors will broaden the scope of its succession planning process to identify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates for consideration. Jay Rasulo stepped down as Disney’s CFO in June 2015.