Heir apparent no more. Disney COO Thomas Staggs is departing from his role at the company in a surprise move that raises new questions over who will replace CEO Bob Iger when he retires in 2018.
Staggs will leave his position effective May 6, but he will remain employed by the company in the role of special advisor to Iger–with whom he has worked for more than two decades–through this fiscal year.
Staggs has spent the past 26 years at the House of Mouse. His career began in strategic planning, before moving to such high-profile roles as CFO and head of Disney’s Parks & Resorts.
He stepped into the role of COO last year, amid continued high-level executive shuffles within the entertainment powerhouse. With Disney’s merger of its consumer products and interactive divisions taking place last spring, Leslie Ferraro became co-chairwoman of consumer products and digital media–a role that she relinquished only nine months later, paving the way for James Pitaro to be upped to chairman of the division. Pitaro’s role has seen him reporting into Staggs since February. (Ferraro left to pursue marketing and engagement projects after 17 years with Disney.)
Roughly two years remain before Iger will step down as chairman and CEO. With Staggs out of the running as successor, Disney’s board of directors will now broaden the scope of its search for a replacement.