If the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus want a youthful-looking idol of their own, they should look no further than Sweeney. Since joining the Mouse House in 1996, she has assimilated extraordinary power, overseeing a portfolio that includes ABC's news, entertainment and daytime divisions; cablers like Toon Disney, ABC Family and SoapNet; Hyperion Publishing; and Buena Vista Prods. (And that doesn't include the equity interests in Lifetime Television and A&E Television Networks.)
If it's a Disney brand, chances are it's Sweeney-approved.
"In the back of my mind is always the brand, and in the front of my mind, it's always the consumer -- how they understand us and what they're reacting to," she says. Sweeney now oversees 19,000 employees, and content with her stamp on it reaches up to 1 billion people per month. This year she can stake a claim to $16.1 billion in media network revenues (an increase of 7%), despite the WGA strike and the general economic downturn.
"We're never thinking about how well we're doing," she continues. "Because for us, it's always about what's coming up in six months or a year."
What's on tap for Sweeney -- a former chairman and CEO of FX and a former Nickelodeon executive -- will be to develop new franchises while shepherding current hits like Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana." She also has her eye trained on new platforms, including the Web, video-on-demand, broadband and mobile.
"It's about constantly staying relevant and experimental," she says. "I never get complacent, and my team never gets complacent. They're always raising the bar and staying experimental."