Jaya Kolhatkar is Executive Vice President of Data, overseeing all data and analytics related efforts at Disney Streaming, home to Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. In her role, she is responsible for elevating customer intelligence, implementing strong data governance and driving a culture of objective, data-driven decision making.
Prior to joining Disney, Kolhatkar served as SVP of Global Data and Analytics Platforms at Walmart, Inc, where she built data and analytics platforms that provided data and tools for making business decisions at Walmart Inc. Kolhatkar joined Walmart in 2013 as part of the acquisition of predictive analytics firm, Inkiru, where she was founder and Chief Analytics Officer.
Kolhatkar has expertise in engaging predictive analytics to solve complex business problems at companies like BankOne, Amazon, PayPal, and eBay where she held executive positions in analytics roles.
Kolhatkar holds a Master of Business Administration from Villanova University.
Jaya Kolhatkar ’87 MBA, Chief Data Officer at Hulu, was part of the inaugural MBA class at VSB. She had come to the U.S. from India after marrying Santosh Kolhatkar ’82 MS Mech Eng. Kolhatkar had graduated from college, gotten married and moved to the U.S. over the course of a few months, and had no work experience. “I was lucky enough to get a position as a marketing research assistant in the MBA program,” she explains. “That opportunity set up the foundational elements for my career. It was the first time I was putting what I was learning into practice.”
After completing her degree, Kolhatkar went to work for an insurance company in a predictive analytics position. “I had no idea what predictive analytics was,” she recalls. “My employer assured me that the market research analytical skills I had acquired in the MBA program could be applied to predictive analytics. And he was right.” Predictive analytics–using historical data to predict future outcomes–was an area that was just starting to be used by many different industries, with the insurance field leading the way. After a few years, Kolhatkar took a new job at a bank using analytics in the area of credit risk. “I was struck by how I could take what I had learned and translate it fairly seamlessly to solving problems in a different domain.”
Kolhatkar’s career then took her to Amazon, PayPal and eBay, where she worked in various analytics roles as the internet economy was in its infancy. Post-eBay, she co-founded a predictive analytics firm, Inkiru, whose highly scalable platform was designed to use predictive intelligence and data to help companies with strategic decision-making. Inkiru was later acquired by WalmartLabs. Kolhatkar eventually became SVP, Global Data at Walmart Inc.
As Hulu’s Chief Data Officer, Kolhatkar was tasked with “making Hulu great at data.” She is responsible for elevating Hulu’s customer intelligence, implementing strong data governance, and driving a culture of data-driven decision making. She currently manages a team across strategic analytics, Data Engineering, Data Product, Data Science, and Business Intelligence. Her charter has changed recently to include all Disney Streaming properties namely Disney+, ESPN+, Star+ and Hulu.
Kolhatkar credits the Villanova MBA program with laying the foundation for her future career success. “I cannot understate how much of an impact Villanova had on my career. If I had not gotten the research assistant position, and if my professors had not pushed me to learn things I was not very comfortable with learning at that point in time, I would not have had the career that I have had. I think of these professors often and of the groundwork they laid for my career.”