Monday 24 August 2020 7:52 am

Pearson appoints Disney veteran Andy Bird as new chief executive

Publishing group Pearson has appointed former Disney bigwig Andy Bird as its new chief executive.

The company said Bird will take over from current boss John Fallon on 19 October. Fallon will step down from the board but remain as an adviser until the end of the year.

Veteran media industry boss Bird, whose career has spanned more than 35 years, most recently served as chairman of Walt Disney International.

After joining the Mouse House in 2004, he was responsible for the group’s overseas expansion and led its digital transformation.

Prior to this Bird also held senior roles at AOL Time Warner, while his career began with a series of positions at Piccadilly Radio and Virgin Broadcasting Company.

“We are delighted to have secured someone of Andy’s calibre, after an extensive search and selection process,” said Pearson chair Sidney Taurel.

“Andy brings a wealth of international consumer experience, as well as significant expertise in building brands, transformational change and driving digital innovation. He is an inspirational and dynamic leader with an excellent track record of growth.”

Bird will be paid a base salary of $1.25m and he has committed to invest $3.75m in Pearson shares.

The education publisher has suffered a sharp fall in its share price in recent years as it battles to transform its print-focused outlook and accelerate growth in its digital products.

It has also been hit by a decline in sales during the coronavirus pandemic as school closures stunted demand.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to be joining Pearson as the next chief executive at an exciting time for the company,” Bird said in a statement.

“Since joining the board earlier this year I have quickly come to see the enormous potential across the company’s businesses, the strength and dedication of the people who work here, and the great opportunities that exist for Pearson to become a digital first learning company.”