A year and a half after being named president of business operations and chief financial officer of Walt Disney Television, Ravi Ahuja is exiting the company “to seek a new adventure,” Disney General Entertainment chairman Peter Rice.
The move comes amid a greater restructuring at Disney that has seen a greater focus on streaming at the entertainment conglomerate. As Rice notes in an internal memo to staff, Ahuja’s position has “significantly changed.”
Ahuja will stay with Disney as a consultant while the company looks for a new head of operations and finance.
In a separate note to colleagues, Ahuja said that he did not make the decision easily, but express pride in what he and his team have been able to accomplish since he joined the greater company in the wake of Disney’s acquisitions of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. Ahuja was previousy the CFO for Fox Networks Group, managing the company’s finance and accounting and overseeing business development for FNG’s business units, including Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Cable Networks, Fox Sports Media Group and National Geographic Partners, and FNG Wurope and Africa and Latin America.
Per Rice’s internal memo:
I regrettably am writing to you today to share that Ravi Ahuja has decided to leave the Company to seek out a new adventure. This is a big loss for me personally and our Company, but I wish Ravi nothing but the best. He has been an amazing strategic and operational partner to not only me but everyone on the leadership team and across the Company.
With the reorganization of our business and our pivot to wholly focus on the creation of programming while operations of the networks and management of the P&L moved to DMED, Ravi’s role as president of Business Operations and CFO significantly changed. As much as I hoped he’d stay on, ultimately he decided to take this change as an opportunity to find a new challenge, and I understand and respect his decision.
For over a decade, I have had the great pleasure of working side by side with Ravi here at Disney and before that at Fox Networks Group. He is a fantastic operating and financial executive with the perfect balance of strategic vision and practical action, both of which he turns into impressive results. Ravi was pivotal in managing a smooth integration of the Fox television businesses into Disney and then optimizing our operations quickly.
At Fox, he was a terrific partner to me in operating our domestic and international sports and entertainment businesses across broadcast, cable, direct-to-consumer and the studios. Ravi played an integral role in the acquisition of the Yankees Network and our positions in Roku, Draft Kings, Aftershock Studios and National Geographic including the setting up of the joint venture. He subsequently served on the boards of the Yankees Network, Roku and National Geographic and helped guide Fox’s position in the Hulu joint venture for over a decade. For all his brilliance, it’s Ravi’s genuine and congenial consideration that has made him a trusted and valued colleague.
Ensuring a smooth transition, Ravi is going to stay on as a consultant as we identify a new head of operations and finance. He’s built a great team, and we are fortunate that EVP of Strategy and Business Operations Trisha Husson will deftly manage the day-to-day operations, effective immediately. Reporting to Trisha during this interim period will be Peter DiCecco (Music Affairs), Marc Sandman (Labor Relations), Greg Richart (Finance & Business Planning), Karen Sack (FX Finance), Bob Barron (Disney Television Studios Finance), David Cobb (Disney Branded Television Finance), along with the Content Research and first-run Scheduling teams that we previously announced will be joining their organization.
I know many of you share with me a conflicted sadness and respect for this news, a little selfish pity for what we are losing but genuine support for Ravi’s future.
I am enormously grateful for his partnership and friendship. Please join me in wishing Ravi all the best as he takes the next step into what I’m confident will be an incredible future.
Ahuja’s email to colleagues can be read in full below:
As Peter’s note said, I am leaving the company to pursue other challenges. I have not come to this decision easily. I am very excited about the future of The Walt Disney Company and Disney General Entertainment. This is an amazing company, and ours is a tremendous team. There are very bright days ahead.
Though the impetus for my decision has been the change in my role, I want to relay the pride I feel for helping to put together the group here and what we have accomplished since the Fox deal closed in March of 2019. We have seamlessly melded two big TV companies – Disney | ABC Television and Fox Networks. We have made incredibly popular and culture-defining television. We have a leadership team that works supportively with each other and in the best interests of our company and viewers. We are navigating through a once-in-a-century pandemic, and we are repositioning ourselves for the future of our company and our industry.
And I want to thank you all. We have so much talent and so much energy. This is an unstoppable group. For my teams, I have seen you go above and beyond to accomplish so much – very proud of you!
Finally, I want to say a personal, public thank you to my long-time boss, mentor and friend, Peter Rice. I don’t need to tell anyone about how great of a chairman Peter is. We all know that. I have learned so much from Peter every day – about our business, content and, most importantly, leadership. Peter naturally combines a focus on achieving results with empathy for people. He has a truly authentic and genuine concern for everyone and is the same in our small group meetings as at our town halls.
As Peter said, I will stay on as a consultant for a while still so let’s not say goodbye. See you on Zoom sometime soon!