ESPN Chief Jimmy Pitaro said that longtime Chief Financial Officer Christine Driessen will retire in January after 33 years with the company, including more than two decades as the network’s chief financial officer.
Pitaro said Driessen played a major role in ESPN’s growth, helping guide its business decisions and major negotiations. He also acknowledged her work with the Global Sports Mentorship Program, which promoted sports opportunities for women and girls, as well as her support of female executives within the company as the co-chair of ESPN’s Diversity Council.
Here’s the memo Pitaro just sent to ESPN’s staff, announcing the departure:
It is a rare thing indeed for one individual to positively impact the trajectory of a company and its people, day after day, in big ways and small, for more than 33 years. But that is exactly what Christine Driessen has accomplished for ESPN.
It is therefore with mixed emotions I am announcing that Christine, ESPN’s EVP & CFO, will retire in January 2019. While this decision was made months ago and I am thrilled for what this means for Christine and her family, I am equally sad that we will not have more time to work together.
As you all know, Christine’s career is one of great accomplishment. When she started with the company as its Controller in 1985, ESPN was a mere 450 employees, two buildings joined by a catwalk and a small offering of sports content. Today, ESPN represents the most preeminent brand in sports media entertainment, and Christine has played a major role in this growth story.
Promoted in 1994 to CFO, for 23 years Christine has been one of ESPN’s most savvy strategic advisors and the longest serving ESPN Board of Directors member. She has helped guide every significant business decision and every major negotiation (domestically and internationally) in which the company has engaged.
Christine’s keen financial acumen and business judgment are rivaled only by her boundless energy, humanity and courage. She has worked fiercely to grow and develop the members of her team, champion the cause of diversity and inclusion, and graciously serve as an example and sponsor for hundreds of women at ESPN, Disney, Hearst and companies throughout the media and sports industries. Among her many credits, she was instrumental in the launch of espnW and its award winning Global Sports Mentorship Program – a joint ESPN and U.S. Department of State initiative created to sustain sports opportunities for under-served women and girls worldwide. She launched the ESPN Executive Women’s Forum, a group dedicated to helping women executives succeed in business at ESPN, served as the co-chair of ESPN’s Diversity Council and served on Disney’s inaugural Diversity Council.
She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including Multichannel News Wonder Woman of the Year and WICT and WISE Woman of the Year. She has been listed in the top 5 in Forbes’ most powerful women in sports list and among “The 100 Most Powerful People in Sports.”
Christine will relinquish the day-to-day management of the function on July 1 and move into an advisory role to me. I am grateful we will continue to work closely together through the end of the year in order to effect a smooth transition of all of her many duties.
I want to thank Christine for her extraordinary contributions and look forward to celebrating her incredible career over the coming months. Please join me in offering her our hearty congratulations on behalf of ESPN and TWDC.