Around the house: Disney promotes GC to CLO role, Olympus lines up global GC replacement

This week’s roundup of top in-house moves also includes appointments at Circana, John Wood Group, Agoda and Northern Trains

Disney rewards GC Horacio Gutierrez with CLO title Marko Aliaksandr /

Disney promotes GC to CLO as DeSantis legal fight continues

Entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. has promoted Horacio Gutierrez to chief legal officer, a newly created role, according to a December securities filing.

Gutierrez was previously Disney’s general counsel, having joined the company in 2021 from Spotify. The promotion extends his contract at Disney to the end of December 2026 and ups his base salary to $1.5m a year.

Disney has been engaged in a high-profile legal fight with Florida governor and Republican party presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, which erupted after Disney publicly opposed a state law championed by DeSantis that bans schools from giving lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity to young children. 

DeSantis retaliated by taking over the governing district responsible for providing municipal services to the company’s Disney World theme park resort in Florida, a district that was previously controlled by Disney. Disney then sued DeSantis for violating its free speech rights.

In March last year, Gutierrez was also handed chief compliance officer duties after the company parted ways with former CCO Alicia Schwarz amid a wider round of job layoffs.

Then in September, Disney hired former PayPal CLO Louise Pentland as chief counsel of its Disney Parks, Experiences and Products business, reporting to Gutierrez.  

Gutierrez spent almost six years at Spotify before he was poached by Disney to replace longtime GC Alan Braverman. Prior to his time at Spotify, Gutierrez spent more than 17 years at Microsoft, becoming GC in the final six months of his time there.

Disney grew revenues 7% in the financial year ending September 2023 to $88.9bn.

Olympus taps Cigna for GC succession plan

Japanese tech company Olympus Corporation has appointed Neil Boyden Tanner as its next global general counsel, replacing Donna Miller who is set to retire in June.

Tanner is joining the company on 8 January from US healthcare and insurance business Cigna, where he was GC for its finance, strategy and international markets activities. At Olympus, he will work with Miller to ensure a smooth transition, with Tanner officially taking over the role on 1 April. He will report directly to Olympus president and CEO Stefan Kaufmann.

Miller said: “From his deep interest in and knowledge of the Japanese culture, to his expertise in international law and the healthcare industry, Neil is the perfect fit for Olympus. I’m excited for my retirement, but I also wish I had more than a few months to work alongside Neil, because I know he will do great work at Olympus.”

Tanner has been at Cigna for more than 14 years across a variety of legal roles, initially joining as chief counsel for Cigna Global Health Benefits. Prior to that he spent almost five years as associate GC for international at Aramark Corporation, having previously worked in private practice at Pepper Hamilton.

Miller, meantime, steps down after serving as group GC since 2016, having been promoted from her role as GC for the Americas. She originally joined Olympus in 2006.

Kaufmann said: “Donna has built and maintained a first-class global legal function and has been a savvy and wise adviser to me, my predecessors and the Olympus executive team for years. While we will miss her, we are delighted that she will help with the transition to our next global general counsel, Neil Tanner, whose experience and presence are precisely what we need going forward.”

Circana hires Neiman Marcus CLO to replace legal chief

US consumer research company Circana has named Hannah Kim as its new chief legal officer, succeeding Susan Bennett, who is stepping down to spend more time with her family.

Kim joins from luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group, where she was also CLO. At Circana, she will be responsible for the company’s global corporate legal, compliance and privacy functions and will sit on its executive leadership team.

Kirk Perry, Circana’s president and CEO, said: “[Kim] brings outstanding experience and perspective from her years leading legal strategy for some of the world’s leading retailers and brands, and we look forward to benefitting from her counsel and leadership as Circana continues to turn complexity into clarity for our clients.”

Kim spent two and a half years at Neiman Marcus Group, having previously been CLO at battery manufacturer Energizer Holdings. She also held in-house roles at Bank of America and Lowe’s Companies.

Bennett, whose legal career stretches back to 1993, will temporarily stay on as an advisor to ensure a smooth transition. She became CLO of Information Resources Inc. in 2019 – which merged with the NPD Group in 2022 and rebranded as Circana last year – having initially joined as general counsel.

Perry said: “Since joining our company nearly 10 years ago, Susan has been an integral member of our leadership team, supporting the strategic evolution that has broadened our global reach, expanded our insights and solutions, and transformed Circana into an industry leader. 

“Susan’s work has helped establish the strong foundation we have for future growth, and we appreciate her continued dedication to supporting our legal team through a smooth transition over the coming weeks.”

Former ASOS GC lands at Thai travel company Agoda

Online travel agency Agoda has appointed Anna Suchopar as its new general counsel, replacing Tom Thomas who is moving to another role within the company.

Suchopar most recently worked at online fashion retailer ASOS, where she was GC and company secretary. At Agoda, she will be responsible for legal and compliance matters and will be based in Thailand.

Writing on LinkedIn, she said: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be joining Omri Morgenshtern and his leadership team as general counsel of Agoda and, with it, the honour of being part of and leading such a talented team as Agoda legal.”

Suchopar spent nine years at ASOS, which she joined from Virgin where she was an IP lawyer. She started her career in private practice at Taylor Wessing.

She added: “It’s also with great thanks and very best regards to Tom Thomas for passing on the baton and entrusting me with the team that he built from scratch and has grown to the powerhouse that it is today. I’m delighted that I’ll be able to continue to work with Tom as he moves into his new role at Agoda as executive advisor to the CEO, focusing on specific projects.”

Wood names Nabors legal chief as GC replacement

British engineering and consulting company John Wood Group has appointed Michael Rasmuson as group general counsel, replacing Martin McIntyre who is set to depart the company.

Rasmuson joins from energy tech business Nabors Industries, where he was GC and chief compliance officer. At Wood, he will be responsible for all legal matters. He will be based in the company’s Texas office, reporting directly to CEO Ken Gilmartin.

Rasmuson spent more than five years at Nabors, which he joined from Baker Hughes, where he worked for 16 years across a variety of legal roles, most recently as executive counsel for product company compliance and product line legal. He previously worked in private practice at CMS, Gowlings and Miller Thomson.

McIntyre, meantime, is leaving the company after more than 23 years, having held the GC role since 2018. He will remain as company secretary until Wood finds a new candidate for the position. Before joining Wood, McIntyre was a corporate partner at legacy Scottish firm Paull & Williamsons.

Northern Trains announces arrival of new legal head

UK train operator Northern Trains has appointed Nush Price as its new head of legal, replacing Jenny Henderson who has joined the UK’s rail operator of last resort Department for Transport OLR Holdings Limited (DOHL).

Price joined the company in late December from Starling Bank, where she was SME collections strategy lead. She will oversee all legal matters at Northern.

Lisa Leighton, people director at Northern, said: “She brings with her a wealth of experience working across the public and private sectors including travel and leisure and we’re thrilled she has joined the railway family.”

Prior to her time at UK challenger bank Starling, Price was a director at the British Business Bank. She previously had two stints at Leeds-based law firm Walker Morris, separated by a three-year spell as a commercial solicitor at UK travel company Jet2holidays. She started her career as a trainee at DLA Piper.

Henderson, meantime, departs after two years at Northern. She was previously a commercial lawyer at Siemens Gamesa and Siemans and a solicitor at regional firm Andrew Jackson. At DOHL, which is responsible for LNER, Northern Trains, TransPennine Trains and Southeastern Trains, she will serve as group general counsel, overseeing legal strategy and legal and compliance matters.

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