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June 12, 2024

Alumni Spotlight: Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive Atul Khosla

Written By: Jane Feller


Alum Atul Khosla graduated from UW-Madison with a BS in Industrial Engineering in 2000 and began his professional journey with GE HealthCare. He enjoyed several different positions with GE, where he gained valuable experience in manufacturing, supply chain management, quality control, finance/inventory management and marketing. He also earned his MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business during his tenure at GE.

But his career trajectory took an unexpected turn when he found himself on a plane with a team of executives from NBC Sports on his way to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Today, he is the chief commercial officer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His is a fascinating example of the endless possibilities available with a degree in industrial engineering

His Badger experience: Atul’s first exposure to UW-Madison took place when he arrived for classes his freshman year, as a 17-year-old from India. He found campus very welcoming and was astonished by the number of experiences available to him. The fellow students he met that first week would become lifelong friends. One of his college roommates was the best man in his wedding. And it was his roommates who taught him the game of football in the student section at Camp Randall Stadium.

He cherishes his years on campus and still considers Madison one of his favorite places. “I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot,” he says. “There are very few places that still bring me joy the way that sitting on the Terrace at Memorial Union does.”

Career path: As a recent graduate, Atul enjoyed his time at GE HealthCare, which enabled him to apply his engineering skills to the field of healthcare. It was, in fact, through a company-sponsored trip that he found himself on the same plane as a team of NBC Sports executives on the way to Italy in 2006, which exposed him to a whole new world in the field of sports. Less than a year later, he went to work for them, and never looked back.  

His next sports opportunity, with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, began with a chance meeting with one of their corporate executives while on the sidelines of one of Atul’s own daughter’s soccer games. His work with the Fire led him to his first position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their chief corporate development & brand officer. Five years later, he was recruited to help initiate and operate the LIV Golf organization as president and COO. He relished the experience with LIV Golf, but the required travel and time away from his young family led him to return to Tampa and the Buccaneers, as their chief commercial officer.

His role as CCO has him overseeing all things related to the fan experience. And once again, he finds himself using his industrial engineering skills, this time to make data-based decisions on everything from concessions line optimization to ticket sales and pricing. Under his leadership, the analytics team for the organization has grown significantly. “There are lots of statistics involved in our decisions. We survey the heck out of things to understand how we can enhance fan experience. And every decision is lead with data.”

Atul Khosla and his daughter on the field at the 2021 Super Bowl.

Career highlights: In 2021, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl—the first team to do so in its own stadium—during the height of the COVID pandemic. “Everybody needed a lift—to have the love of the city behind you was so special, to see and feel that,” he recalls. “To be a small part of that journey was a highlight of my career.”

The event, and the celebrations the team hosted afterwards, were first-of-their-kind projects, which Atul’s team built from the ground up. He found himself in uncharted waters again a few years later, when he was part of the team that created LIV Golf. For both experiences, there was no script to follow, which made it even more exciting for Atul. “I love building things. As an engineer, that’s something I’ve always enjoyed.” 

Looking ahead: Never one to let himself get bored, Atul continues to find new challenges in his work every day. His latest growth opportunity has come in the transition from leading teams to leading leaders. This involves hiring C-suite executives who, according to him, “are smarter than me in their respective spaces. These are folks who want my job—and that’s the people I want.” 

Giving back: Atul is grateful his parents encouraged and supported him in his pursuit of a college education. He hopes to help make a similar experience possible for others, and together with his wife supports an elementary school for underprivileged youth in India.

He is also passionate about the field of healthcare and acts as a member of the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

And in support of his alma mater, Atul will be joining the Industrial Advisory Board of the UW-Madison Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering in fall 2024, where he’ll be able to positively impact the college experience for the next generation of Badgers.

Advice: Throughout his career, Atul has repeatedly faced challenges. His advice is to find the solution rather than point out the problem, which requires going a step further than what might normally be expected. “The ability to dig deep demands tenacity, persistence, grit—not just smarts. I want somebody who is going to be in the foxhole with me.”

When asked about his extraordinary path through various positions, he explains that experiences like his can be possible for anyone: “Your work does speak for itself, and at the end of the day, you never know who’s watching. They might like what they see.”