Christine McCarthy has stepped down as CFO. Didn’t see a topic about it, so figured I would start one.
I found the wording of the announcement peculiar. I think the family medical leave excuse is… suspicious. Maybe I am wrong, but I wonder if she was asked to step down and the leave was a convenient way to keep it from sounding like another Chapek.
It is an odd setup. She’s stepping down as CFO, but continuing to work as an adviser. She’s been CFO since 2015, which means she was CFO under Iger before he left. So why is Iger getting rid of her now? There’s definitely more to the story.
Nothing suspicious about continuing to work as an advisor. This is very common as a means for executives to vest into equity they only earn over time (and potentially to ease some concerns Wall st might have about an untested new CFO). Some say the family medical leave is suspicious but it does sound like her husband is quite sick — and she’s certainly old enough and wealthy enough to step away at any time — so I’d be inclined to give the benefit of the doubt.
I said this not because I think it is a lie. But the wording from Iger makes is sound like family medical leave was not the reason specifically for her leaving, but worded in such a way that it makes it SOUND like that is the reason. Iger is generally very particular about his word choice…so to say she is leaving AS she takes family medical leave rather say BECAUSE she is taking it does make it sound, to me, that perhaps she was asked to resign for some reason. But I could see that Iger also wouldn’t want it to come across as there being bad blood or anything, so the family medical leave became a good excuse to give.
Maybe not, though. But like I said before, I think the wording is peculiar.
My employer has had a couple recent executives leave, with announcements that they were leaving “to spend time with friends and family” - when most of them were unmarried, childless, and in their 40s/50s. Not that unmarried childless people don’t have friends/family to hang out with…but come on. That’s something you can say when folks are at a reasonable retirement (or event early retirement age), not folks in the prime of their career! Clearly they got the boot and no one put much effort into trying to obscure that fact.
I’m always suspicious of wording too. At least this story seems to line up. If she was really being fired for any kind of cause, it seems unlikely they’d let her hang around as advisor and vest into her restricted stock options (or whatever other vested benefits).
I don’t think she was fired. My hypothesis (and yes, nothing more than that) is more complicated.
So, when Iger was brought back, he wasn’t really brought back to BE CEO, precisely, but to help find and train up the next CEO and other company leaders. But McCarthy is problematic. She has demonstrated a lot of power…enough so that she managed to get the former CEO ousted. Good for Disney, perhaps… but not good for the next potential CEO (after Iger) who will feel as though she might sway things to her liking in a way a CFO shouldn’t. If Iger, then, sees McCarthy as a positive addition to Disney in general, but potentially problematic for the new leadership team he is now tasked to create, he might have asked McCarthy to resign, but allowing her to continue on as advisor. Whomever she advised will not have that same kind of power over the next CEO…but she can still pass on her experience.
So, Iger wants McCarthy out (perhaps), but also recognizes her as an asset. If he asked her to resign so that she could focus on her family (which she needed to do anyway) then it is a win win.
Or…and this is crazy, I know…she just felt it was time to go and take care of her family!
A couple of key thoughts from me - she worked through a cancer battle. She is widely seen as spectacularly loyal to Disney. Her husband has been ailing and is in a medical facility.
So also has connections with Wall Street and the media and knows how to plant a story. But she is seen as to numbers driven (as are most CFOs) to the creative side of the company and the fans.
As Bricker points out, hisotry has shown that the CEO of Disney should never be a CFO. The company requires a creative /finance balance. Which means she was never going to be CEO. But as others mentioned she is too powerful to remain as CFO in a transition to new leadership.
I thinknthis move respects what she has done for the company, doesn’t upset Wall Street, and sets up a better power transistion for the future