If you have ever been to a Walt Disney theme park, it is almost impossible to walk away without being impressed with the level of innovation encountered at almost every turn. You find yourself amazed at how they have engineered state-of-the-art solutions to what are oftentimes the most convoluted yet annoying of problems. Personally, I still haven’t gotten over Disney’s fast-pass resolution to lengthy lines for star attractions. Of course, Disney’s level of innovation is not limited to its theme parks. Be it television, cinema, consumer products, or world-class resorts and ocean-liners, Disney has figured it out – don’t settle for anything below excellence. Therefore, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) sets that standard of excellence in its pursuit of corporate directors. Disney’s boardroom has become the envy of public companies everywhere.
Disney made noise in the business world a couple of weeks ago when it named Jack Dorsey, one of the co-founders of Twitter, to its board of directors. With the announcement, the nominating chairs of thousands of public company boards simultaneously sighed in disappointment as they knew the chances of landing Dorsey to their own board grew slimmer. Dorsey solves a problem that many corporations are grappling with right now: how their board can gain deeper technology expertise and become younger. The 37-year old Dorsey is an icon of the tech world. Not only is he the first CEO of Twitter, but he has also served as Chairman of the social media giant since 2008. In addition, Dorsey is the co-founder and CEO of Square, Inc., a fast-growing provider of payment processing services.
Dorsey joins a board of directors at Disney that is quite possibly the most-talented and qualified group of corporate directors in the United States, if not the world. Take a look at the others Dorsey will be joining around Disney’s boardroom table:
- Susan Arnold – Operating Executive of the Carlyle Group. Previously served as President of Global Business Units at Procter & Gamble.
- John Chen – Executive Chair and Interim CEO of Blackberry, Ltd. Previously served as Chairman and CEO of Sybase, Inc.
- Judith Estrin – CEO of JLABS, LLC. Prior to that was the CTO of Cisco Systems, Inc.
- Robert Iger – Chairman and CEO of Disney.
- Fred Langhammer – Chairman, Global Affairs, Estee Lauder Companies, Inc., where he was previously the CEO.
- Aylwin Lewis – President and CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Corporation and prior to that was the President and CEO of Sears Holdings Corporation.
- Monica Lozano – CEO and Chair of the Board at Impremedia, Inc.
- Robert Matschullat – Retired CFO of the Seagram Company and former head of worldwide investment banking for Morgan Stanley.
- Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, Inc.
- Orin Smith – former President and CEO of Starbucks Corporation.
This board has it all – diversity, global experience, relevant skill-sets and expertise, and proficiency in running a major corporation or division thereof. Certainly, credentials don’t always equate with a successful board (e.g. Enron). However, consider the following: at this time last year, Disney stock was trading at around $50 a share. The stock is now trading at around $76 a share. Clearly, Disney’s board has the company headed in the right direction.
All of this didn’t happen by accident. Disney’s board reflects a concerted effort by its Nominating Committee to attract top-level talent that meet certain criteria and needs within the company’s boardroom. While Disney’s brand makes it easier to recruit exceptional directors, the company nevertheless serves as a beacon for public companies seeking to achieve a standard of excellence in the boardroom.