Opening a Conversation with Bob Iger '73

By President Shirley M. Collado, March 5, 2020
Last month in Los Angeles, I had the incredible opportunity to engage in an inspiring and robust conversation with Bob Iger ’73, one of the college’s most accomplished alumni and author of a new memoir, “The Ride of a Lifetime.”

Since I began my time at IC, I’ve been fortunate to have built a connection with Bob, and have cherished our discussions around our career pathways, our life experiences, and what it takes to be a strong leader during times of great change. I am grateful for Bob’s support of my presidency, and extremely grateful for his ongoing support of Ithaca College.  

Our recent conversation in LA took place during the February board of trustees meetings and only a few weeks before Bob announced that he was stepping down from his role as CEO at Disney, a position he has held since 2005. Bob will continue as executive chairman of the company through the end of next year, then conclude his tenure at an organization he’s been a part of for the past 45 years.

a woman laughs while talking to another person

Though the link to our full, hour-long conversation is below, I want to highlight a few of the key moments Bob and I shared. We spoke about his book, and the power and potential of bold, inclusive leadership that centers our shared humanity. Bob underscored the importance of optimism in leadership, and the critical necessity of treating one another with dignity and respect, particularly when contempt and negativity can be such a frequent presence.

Bob and I also engaged in dialogue about Ithaca Forever, the college’s strategic plan, speaking at length about change, and how our response to change has to be about more than simply trying to hang on. Organizations and individuals must make intentional efforts to evolve with a rapidly changing world or—better yet—evolve ahead of it. We must recognize the inevitability of change and see it as an opportunity for transformative action within the context of respecting the past—not revering it—particularly at places with such rich histories as Ithaca College and Disney. Disruption can cause real anxiety, and the challenge we all face, as Bob shared, is to channel that anxiety in a way that preserves our ability to be successful in entirely different circumstances than the ones we have known.

As a 1973 graduate of the Park School, Bob spoke fondly of his time at IC, how the synergy between the liberal arts and his professional TVR program created an important atmosphere and foundation that contributed to his success. He talked, too, about the synergy of the social and the educational moments provided at Ithaca College, saying that, as we look ahead to the future, we must preserve the integrity of Ithaca College as a place that feels like home for our students.

It was truly an honor to spend time in dialogue with such an incredible leader and such an incredible human being. I hope you enjoy listening to our lively and inspiring conversation.