Disney exec paid equivalent of $3.4 million a month for brief 3-month stint has already landed a new job

January 24, 2023, 1:25 PM UTC
Former Disney executive Geoff Morrell
Morrell left Disney to pursue "other opportunities" after a bumpy few months at the conglomerate.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call - Getty Images

A former Disney boss is set to receive more than $10 million in compensation after working at the company for just three months.

Geoff Morrell officially took over as Disney’s chief corporate affairs officer on Jan. 24, 2022, and was on the payroll at Disney for five months—though he was only present for three. He announced his departure in April to “pursue other opportunities,” but his last day on the payroll was technically June 30.

During his time heading up Disney’s public relations and government affairs team, he received $8.3 million in salary and bonuses, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That amount includes the figure the company paid for Morrell’s relocation costs from London—$537,438—as well as a further half million dollars to relocate his family again after Morrell chose to leave. The company said this was to “account for his unique circumstances.”

And there’s more money for Morrell down the line, as Disney plans to pay out the rest of his contact through the 2022 fiscal year, which ends on Oct. 1.

That means he’ll receive a further $4 million for the remainder of his contract as well as a target-set bonus. That would bring his total to $12.3 million for just 12 weeks of work.

However, according to CNN, Morrell will lose out on around $2 million. A person at the company said the filing, first reported last week, didn’t take into account performance-based payments which were never vested given the Morrell’s length of tenure at Disney.

That still brings his total compensation package to around $10.3 million—more than $3 million a month.

There is a chance that Disney could cut that bill a bit—if it’s lucky. The company also bought Morrell’s home, which he bought for $4.5 million, and as such could make a profit on selling it—conversely, it may have to absorb any loss.

Tough times

Morrell left Disney after a tumultuous few months at the company that saw it embroiled in a row over Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Disney’s CEO at the time, Bob Chapek, faced backlash for not condemning the bill. When he finally did, the move began a feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who launched a plan to take control of the governing board for Disney’s sprawling Florida property—and make the entertainment giant assume $700 million in outstanding debt.

Taryn Fenske, communications director for the governor, said at the time: “The corporate kingdom has come to an end. Under the proposed legislation, Disney will no longer control its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else, will be responsible for their outstanding debts, and will pay their fair share of taxes.”

Chapek was terminated in November in a surprise move that saw the return of his predecessor, Bob Iger. The proxy filing says the board felt Chapek “was no longer the right person to serve in the CEO role,” noting “the significant developments and change in the broader macroeconomic environment over this period informed how the board viewed the appropriate leader in light of the rapidly evolving industry and market dynamics.”

The company revealed earlier this month the severance package it is required to pay its ousted CEO amounts to roughly $20 million—in addition to the $24 million Chapek earned last year in salary, options, and awards.

Where is Geoff Morrell working now?

It seems that Morrell has already moved on to a new role, having been announced as president of global strategy and communications for global CEO advisory firm Teneo on Jan. 4. In the newly created role, Morrell will “serve as an advisor to Teneo’s clients while also helping further enhance and expand the firm’s service offerings and drive the continued growth of the business around the world.”

On his move to the new role, the former BP communications boss said: “I am delighted to be starting the next chapter of my career with Teneo and look forward to working with Paul [Keary, CEO] and the firm’s tremendously talented team.

“Over the course of my career, I have moved from journalism to government to big corporations, and now I am thrilled to be joining and helping to lead one of the world’s top consulting firms. I am excited to bring my experience and learnings to help CEOs navigate today’s complex world—whether it be reputational challenges, regulatory hurdles, business issues or geopolitical risk. Teneo has best in class talent on staff to help provide holistic solutions to global companies. The firm’s integrated service offer is unlike any in the industry, and I look forward to helping more companies benefit from it.”

Keary added that Morrell, a former ABC News White House correspondent, will help Teneo’s “continuous drive to deliver the highest level of advice and insight to our firm’s clients around the world. Few in our industry have had more experience and success navigating the intersection of media, government and business as Geoff.

“He is truly one of the leading strategic communications and public affairs professionals in the world and when he became available we were determined to add him to our team. As CEOs and their teams manage engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, having an advisor like Geoff, who brings with him the broad, integrated services of Teneo, will be critical to helping them navigate today’s demanding business environment.”

Morrell and Teneo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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