Lambda CTO Namrata Ganatra: ‘This is the Opportunity I Would Want for My Younger Self'
New Lambda School CTO Namrata Ganatra joined our team full-time in July 2019.

Lambda School's newly appointed CTO Namrata Ganatra almost didn’t have the chance to go to college.

While she was growing up in India, Namrata dreamed of working with computers. So when it came time to decide what she wanted to study after secondary school, she knew she wouldn’t be following the traditional route of a math or science degree like many of her friends.

“I decided I wanted to learn about computers early on, and after reading about Microsoft in a newspaper, it was my dream to join them someday,” Namrata said. “I didn’t want to waste time doing generals; I knew I wanted to study computer science.”

The only problem was that Namrata’s parents couldn’t afford to pay for her schooling. She grew up in a middle class family and had three siblings, meaningƒ_ there was no money left over to send her to school to study computer science (CS). Namrata had to find another way to achieve her dream of working at Microsoft. 

Funding her path to Microsoft

“I was a great student and decided to earn scholarships,” Namrata said. “I took any scholarship possible that would get me to CS school. It was eye-opening – at that time in India scholarships were based on your race, gender, and religion. All of that was pretty daunting to me. For six years, I had to qualify on 10-20 criteria per scholarship to get the money I needed, and fortunately, I was able to get through school – that was the only way.”

Through Namrata’s hard work and the help of scholarships, she graduated top of her class at the University of Mumbai with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. At that time, most of her friends were joining large companies for the experience, but Namrata didn’t want to go that direction.

“I often do things I’m passionate about, even if it’s against the flow,” she said. 

Instead, she joined a small startup that executes small projects end-to-end for Microsoft Corporation. After nearly three years, Microsoft hired Namrata full-time, and they wanted her onsite in Seattle. She had finally landed her dream job, the very thing that had inspired her to become a computer scientist.

After moving to the United States, Namrata worked as an engineer on the Microsoft Online Customer Portal team, before moving to a new team to build the company’s first subscription billing platform. Her career was thriving in Seattle, and she had earned an award for Microsoft's highest potential employees two years in a row. Then, her fiance got a job offer in the Bay Area. 

Even though things were going so well for Namrata at Microsoft, she knew they had to move. It was 2010 – the middle of the recession, and jobs were scarce. It was a big dilemma, but she knew she had the self-confidence to make this drastic career move.

Building a new dream in San Francisco

In hindsight, Namrata said, moving to the Bay Area was a great decision. She joined a small startup, and for the first time had the opportunity to work with an open source stack, rather than the tech stack she was used to at bigger companies. 

That startup was eventually acquired by PayPal. From there she moved to Facebook, where she led and grew the payments platform engineering team, and then to Stockpile, where she served as CTO, before landing at Coinbase as Senior Director of Engineering. Namrata had only been at Coinbase six months when she discovered Lambda School on Twitter.

“I wasn’t looking for a job when I heard about Lambda through mutual friends on Twitter. When I began looking into it, I landed on Lambda’s website and learned that their mission was to make education accessible and risk-free," she said.

What's more, Namrata said, she saw herself in the faces of Lambda's students: people from all over the world who were working to overcome huge obstacles to build a better life.

"I would have personally used this school when I was growing up in India and had to go through 6 years of struggling to raise money for my education," she said.

Namrata was inspired. She tweeted about the vast amount of human potential that is only limited by opportunity, and Lambda School’s CEO and co-founder Austen Allred took note of it.

Image via Twitter


The leadership team at Lambda reached out to Namrata about potentially exploring a role at Lambda School, and in July she came on full-time as Chief Technology Officer.

"Based on my prior startup experience, I always make career decisions based on 3 P's rubric: Product, People, and Potential,” she said. “And because of my personal experience, I’m very passionate about what Lambda is trying to do.”

Finding a shared vision

Since joining Lambda, Namrata says that the thing that has impressed her most has been the focus on student success.

“Everyone here at Lambda is so student obsessed,” she said. “Lots of companies talk about their values, but it’s often hard to see their real-world impact. At Lambda it’s so inspiring and exciting to see that impact first-hand as we watch job offers come in for students every day.”

Image via Twitter


Outside of work, Namrata also runs a nonprofit, Ashia Foundation, which focuses on providing scholarships to women of any age, race, or religion. She said that when she came to the US and started earning a good salary, she knew she needed to do something to help young people like herself who would otherwise not have access to education, so she is especially grateful to be part of a company that is working toward the same goal.

“My own personal story and passion for accessible education resonates with Lambda’s goal of making education accessible and risk-free,” she said. “This really is the opportunity I would have wanted for my younger self.”

We are thrilled to have Namrata on our leadership team, and are excited about the possibilities ahead as we work together to give everyone access to an affordable, high-quality education. 

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