Disney CEO Front-Runner Is a Woman, Dana Walden

By Thea Felicity

Apr 01, 2024 11:59 AM EDT

Attendees are reflected in Disney+ logo during the Walt Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim, California on September 9, 2022.
(Photo : Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Dana Walden is being highly considered a potential Disney CEO, which would make her the first woman to hold this position in Disney's over century-long history, per CNBC.

Now, her lead as a frontrunner for the Disney CEO role comes at a time when Bob Iger, the current CEO, is preparing to step down. VCPost earlier reported that Iger is currently receiving a threat to his position over Disney investor Nelson Peltz's challenge.

Walden's journey to this major Disney moment traces back to her early days at 20th Century Fox, where her talent caught the eye of industry stalwart Peter Chernin. Fast forward three decades, and now, under Iger's purview, Walden stands on the brink of making history. 

READ NEXT: Bob Iger Faces Threat to His Disney CEO Position As Annual Meeting Nears

Former Disney Executives to Dana Walden as a Possible First Disney Female CEO

However, her ascent is not without criticism.

Former Disney executives, while acknowledging Walden's accomplishments in television, raise questions about her readiness for the top job. They point to her lack of experience in certain areas crucial to Disney's diverse portfolio, such as parks and resort management. 

"Does she have the necessary depth of business knowledge? She can learn, but you can't have someone teach you decades of finance, business, and tactics in a year or two," said an anonymous executive.

In return, Dana Walden's supporters and colleagues counter these doubts, stressing that she has a proven track record and strong relationships within the industry. All of which are important to attain Disney's success.

"There's something about looking at female execs where questions are asked that would never be asked of men," said Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios and a former colleague of Walden's.

Walden remains focused on her current role, steering Disney Entertainment alongside co-chair Alan Bergman. She has yet to comment on her critics.

Dana Walden has strong connections and a long history within the entertainment industry, particularly in Hollywood. Her upbringing in Studio City, a neighborhood in Los Angeles known for its ties to the entertainment industry, contributed to her immersion in the world of show business from a young age. 

Additionally, Walden's early career in public relations provided her with foundational experience in the industry.

"What you can't teach somebody is how to inspire people. She is whip smart. If there is a subject that she needs to take a deep dive on, she's going to be an expert in that subject before you know it."

READ MORE: Disney Investor Nelson Peltz Criticizes the Company's 'Woke' Strategy, Questioning 'Black Panther' and 'The Marvels' Films

© 2024 VCPOST, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics