Media Exec Sangeeta Desai, BS 98, to Speak at Undergrad Commencement

Sangeeta Desai, Chief Operating Officer of Freemantle Media (Fiona Hanson/AP Images)

Sangeeta Desai, BS 98, a top executive at FremantleMedia—producer of the long-running hit vocal show “American Idol”—has been chosen as the 2017 undergraduate commencement speaker.

Commencement will be held May 15 at the Greek Theatre.

Desai, a London native, is group COO/CEO for emerging markets at FremantleMedia, a creative powerhouse that produces over 10,000 hours of programming every year. In her role, she is responsible for the group’s global operations, expanding its growth in Latin America, Central & Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

FremantleMedia, a division of RTL Group, Europe’s biggest entertainment company, produces and distributes “America’s Got Talent,” “Idols,” “X-Factor,” and “Family Feud.”

Sangeeta spent her childhood in Dubai, Sri Lanka, and Oman before she arrived at UC Berkeley as an undergraduate. In an interview last fall, she told BerkeleyHaas magazine that “coming from a small place like Oman, which was very sheltered, to a place like Berkeley was mind-blowing.”

After graduating in 1998, Sangeeta earned an MBA at Wharton in 2004 and began a career as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in New York before moving to London with Goldman Sachs. There, she was introduced to the media and entertainment business.

Read more about Desai’s journey from investment banking to private equity to entertainment in BerkeleyHaas magazine.