Bob Iger, executive chairman and chairman of the board of The Walt Disney Company, delivered the commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin on Saturday, May 22nd.
- Robert A. Iger, executive chairman and former CEO of The Walt Disney Company, delivered the keynote address at The University of Texas at Austin’s 138th spring commencement ceremony on May 22.
- One of the foremost executives in media, Iger served as CEO of Disney from 2005 to February 2020. He now directs the company’s creative endeavors and leads its board of directors. During his 15 years as CEO, Iger grew Disney into one of the world’s largest and most iconic media and entertainment companies. Under his leadership, Disney acquired Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox, and released a number of record-setting films including favorites such as Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, Disney’s Frozen and Frozen 2 and Marvel’s Black Panther.
- Widely regarded as a model for modern-day business leadership, Iger has been named Time’s Businessperson of the Year, one of the “World’s Most Powerful People” by Forbes magazine, and one of the “Best CEOs” by Institutional Investor magazine, among many other honors.
- Iger addressed thousands of students, their parents and guests of the university during the 8 p.m. ceremony and imparted lessons from 45 years in media and leadership to the nearly 10,000 graduates eligible to receive degrees this year.
- ″There just is no such thing as having dreams that are too big. Your possibilities are enormous,” Iger said in the speech. He also encouraged graduates to embrace failure and setbacks along the way, adding “nearly every successful person that I know has struggled or failed at some point” before sharing stories of icons like Steve Jobs getting fired from Apple (which he founded) and Walt Disney getting fired from one of his first jobs as a newspaper artist because “he lacked imagination.”
- As the head of Disney, Iger focused on quality and kept a keen eye on the future of the media industry. His leadership strategy consisted of three pillars: generating the best creative content possible; fostering innovation and using the latest technology; and expanding into new markets around the world. During his tenure, Disney became an industry leader in building direct relationships with consumers through the launch of Disney+ and ESPN+, and it opened its first theme park and resort in China, Shanghai Disney Resort, in 2016.
- Many of Iger’s achievements are chronicled in his New York Times best-selling book The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, published in 2019. The book details Iger’s 45-year career with Disney and ABC, where he began as a studio supervisor, and outlines the many qualities he believes are central to successful leadership, including optimism, decisiveness and integrity.
- Iger last visited The University of Texas when he spoke at the university’s VIP Distinguished Speaker Series in 2018.
What They’re Saying:
- Jay Hartzell, president of The University for Texas at Austin: “Bob Iger’s stellar career and visionary leadership have the capacity to inspire and teach us all. We live in a rapidly changing world, and Bob has been at the forefront of an industry that has witnessed seismic shifts over the last two decades. I’m confident that for years to come, students will remember his wise words —when they think of their commencement, as they transform their own industries, and with each of the (hopefully) many future episodes of WandaVision.”