Disney CFO Christine McCarthy is stepping down

 Walt Disney Co. Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy  in 2019
Christine McCarthy, Walt Disney’s senior executive vice president and chief financial officer, participates in a panel discussion during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in 2019.
(Michael Kovac / Getty Images)
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Walt Disney Co. Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy is stepping down after more than two decades at the Burbank entertainment company.

McCarthy will give up her role and take a “family medical leave of absence,” Disney said Thursday in a news release. McCarthy will continue as a strategic advisor during her leave and will help the company identify a long-term successor, Disney said.

McCarthy, 67, is “one of the most admired financial executives in America, and her impact on the Walt Disney Co. during 23 years of dedicated service cannot be overstated,” Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger said in a statement.


Disney’s latest major leadership shake-up comes amid a challenging time for the company.

Iger has been remaking the company to boost profitability from its big streaming initiatives, including Disney+. The company recently shed 7,000 jobs in an effort to save $5.5 billion. His core thesis has been to return power at the company to leaders of its creative divisions.

Disney’s stock struggled last year as Wall Street turned on the streaming business, which has stagnated after a big surge in subscriptions caused by the pandemic. Shares are up about 5% so far this year, closing Thursday at $92.94.

Iger returned to lead Disney in November after the board of directors fired Bob Chapek, whom Iger had chosen as his successor.

Chapek took the reins in February 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses, including theme parks and movie theaters, in the U.S. He suffered from a number of missteps, including stumbling into a political battle with Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, and getting into a fight with actor Scarlett Johansson.

Reports after Iger’s return credited McCarthy with playing a significant role behind the scenes to convince Disney’s board of directors to oust Chapek. Some in the trade press had floated the notion that she might succeed Iger when he leaves the company for good.

But some of McCarthy’s moves rankled fellow executives. During the months before Chapek’s firing, she led an effort to further centralize decision-making functions and cut costs, bringing in consultants from the advisory firm McKinsey & Co., according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.


Much power had already been consolidated under a distribution unit known as DMED, run by Kareem Daniel. Iger quickly dismantled the division, which was highly unpopular among the heads of Disney’s creative operations.

Iger’s contract is set to expire just two years after his return. One of his key tasks is to help the company groom a successor, a goal that has proved challenging in the past.

Veteran Disney executive Kevin Lansberry will take over as the company’s interim CFO, effective July 1. Lansberry is currently executive vice president and chief financial officer of Disney’s parks, experiences and products business.

McCarthy joined Disney in 2000 as its treasurer and became CFO in 2015, making her, next to Iger, one of the most important faces of the company to the financial sector. On quarterly earnings calls, she would go into detail about the company’s profits and other metrics, while Iger would speak to high-level strategy and business developments.

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity Bob provided me to serve as CFO of this iconic company and am proud of the work my talented team has done to position Disney to capitalize on the business possibilities that lie ahead,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Although I am leaving the CFO role, I look forward to helping with the transition and will always be rooting for the success of my extended Disney family.”

She survived cancer twice: in 2000 and in 2015. The first bout began just months after she joined Disney. Colleagues admired her resilience, noting that she made daily trips to a hospital near Disney’s Burbank headquarters for treatment, according to a 2022 profile from Smith College. The second round followed her promotion to CFO.


“There was no pity party for me,” she told Smith. “I wasn’t going to give this damn cancer one ounce of my spirit.”