The Walt Disney Company, which appreciates magic but doesn’t much like surprises, has a shocker to deal with: Thomas Staggs, who was widely expected to take over as CEO in two years, is leaving the company next month.
Following a report by The New York Times late Monday, the company announced that Staggs would leave his role as chief operating officer on May 6. He will stay on as a special advisor to CEO Robert Iger through the fiscal year.
Staggs was expected to step into that role when Iger retired in 2018.
But Staggs needed approval from Disney’s board of directors, and according to the Times, some members have doubted that he “had the skills required to maintain Disney’s creative momentum.” The report cited two anonymous sources.
In a statement, Staggs said it had 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.”
After starting in strategic planning for the company 26 years ago, Staggs held jobs including chief financial officer and chairman of parks and resorts. He was promoted to chief operating officer last year. His next move is unknown.
“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,” Iger said in the statement
The board will now “broaden the scope of its succession planning process to identify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates for consideration,” according to the statement from Disney.