Disney Promotes Christine McCarthy as First Female CFO

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Walt Disney Co. promoted Christine M. McCarthy to be its first female chief financial officer, making her the company’s highest ranking woman ever.

The appointment is effective immediately, Burbank, California-based Disney said Tuesday in a statement. McCarthy, 60, was executive vice president and treasurer, overseeing corporate real estate in addition to her financial role. She succeeds Jay Rasulo, who stepped down this month.

“Christine has done an incredible job as Disney’s treasurer over the past 15 years, and her strong leadership and keen financial acumen make her an ideal chief financial officer,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger said in the statement.

The promotion adds a woman to the top ranks of a globally known U.S. company that counts on young girls to buy its princess dresses and drag their parents to hit movies like “Cinderella” and “Frozen.” Iger has shuffled management since appointing parks division head Thomas Staggs chief operating officer in February, also naming a woman, Leslie Ferraro, to jointly lead the newly combined consumer products and interactive unit.

Disney rose 1 percent to $114.14 at the close in New York. The stock is up 21 percent this year.

Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, also promoted Kevin Mayer to chief strategy officer. He had previously overseen corporate strategy and business development.

McCarthy reports to Iger, while Mayer reports to Iger and Staggs, the company said. Mayer previously reported to Rasulo.

McCarthy and Mayer will each earn a salary of $1.25 million and be eligible for a bonus and stock awards of 4.5 times that amount, Disney said in a filing Tuesday. Rasulo earned $1.8 million in salary in the year that ended in September 2014. His total compensation, including equity awards and a bonus exceeding his target, was $16.2 million, according to the company’s proxy filing in March.

Career History

Prior to joining Disney, McCarthy was CFO at Imperial Bancorp from 1997 to 2000. She held various finance and planning positions at First Interstate Bancorp from 1981 to 1996. She received a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Smith College and later earned an MBA in marketing and finance from the Anderson School at UCLA.

She will serve as the company’s primary contact with Wall Street and key architect of its financial strategy.

Women account for about 11 percent of the CFOs at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, a number that has budged slightly over the past decade, according to CFO.com. Among the more prominent are Google Inc.’s Ruth Porat and Marianne Lake at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Ferraro was named head of Disney consumer products in May. On Monday, she was appointed to jointly run a combined consumer products and interactive media division with Jimmy Pitaro, who previously led the interactive business.

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