Hugh Johnston will take over as chief financial officer and senior executive vice president of The Walt Disney Co. on Dec. 4, the media company said in a press release. Johnston, a 34-year veteran of PepsiCo, has been finance chief of the food and beverage giant since 2010.
As Disney’s finance chief, Johnston will report directly to CEO Bob Iger and lead the company’s worldwide finance organization, including corporate real estate, corporate strategy and business development, FP&A, and global security.
“Hugh’s well-earned reputation as one of the best CFOs in America and his wealth of leadership experience in both financial and operational roles overseeing a diverse portfolio of top global brands make him a perfect addition to Disney’s senior leadership team,” said Iger.
Johnston joined PepsiCo in 1987 and has been executive vice president of global operations; president of Pepsi-Cola North America; and senior vice president and chief financial officer of PepsiCo beverages and foods.
"Hugh's legacy will be with us for decades to come,” said Ramon Laguarta, PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer. “Under his financial leadership, the company has transformed significantly, and he has been a strong partner to me for many years. I will miss his calm guidance as well as his people-first and empathetic leadership qualities."
Johnston replaces Disney’s interim CFO Kevin Lansberry, who will return to his position as executive vice president and CFO of Disney’s experiences segment. Lansberry stepped in for Christine McCarthy, who resigned as Disney’s finance chief in June for a family medical leave.
McCarthy worked at the company for 23 years and held the CFO role since 2015, making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of Disney. She has been working as a strategic adviser to the company during its transition and to aid in the search for her permanent replacement.
McCarthy made headlines last year in the wake of Disney’s struggling media and entertainment distribution division. She expressed a lack of confidence in then-CEO Bob Chapek to the board of directors. Former CEO Iger replaced Chapek in short order.
Disney is set to report its latest quarterly earnings on Wednesday.