CEO, Chairman Bob Iger works Disney magic at VIP speaker event

Rebecca Stanley

Under the soft lights of the Hogg Auditorium, students buzzed with excitement as they filled the room, waiting to hear from Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. 

The event took place Tuesday evening as part of the VIP Distinguished Speaker Series, sponsored by the Communication Council and Undergraduate Business Council. Iger spoke on his role as CEO and shared how his path to success was not as traditional as one may expect. 

“(An) openness to change, willingness to work, commitment to the jobs I was given, passion for what I did (and) a desire to get ahead,” Iger said on what drove his success. “I never had a long-term plan, even when I started. I just basically said, ‘Take the job, do it well, and eventually opportunity will arise,’ and that’s what happened.”

Eugene Han, the Communication Council chairman, said he hopes Iger’s success story will empower students and open their eyes to nontraditional paths. 

“I want to be able to, with these events, express that it doesn’t matter what your first job is,” Han said. “Bob Iger was in 13 different jobs over 13 years at ABC … Pursuing a more diverse career is more helpful.”

Iger cautioned against sticking to one’s inital plans.

“That’s usually bad because you create an artificial calendar for yourself in terms of achievement, and oftentimes you don’t control it, someone else does,” Iger said. “You can make silly career decisions out of frustration, and that can be a mistake.”

Iger also offered advice to students seeking work in his industry.

“Curiosity is a big part of what I preach in terms of what we look for when hiring,” Iger said. “Go to new places, meet new people … have your eyes wide open.”

On the topic of diversity within his company, Iger said representation brings benefits to the community and business. 

“We have to reach out to a creative community that is more diverse than ever before,” Iger said.  “It’s critical from a business perspective, and that also accrues benefits to our brand.”

Iger’s advice encouraged undeclared freshman Tatum Wiechman, who said she wants to work at Disney.

“What he said about making sure the company is diverse really inspired me,” Wiechman said. “Being a hearing impaired person, I don’t think — maybe I’m wrong, maybe there is — there is anyone who identifies like that currently working for (Disney).”