CC Alum Finds Continued Success as Sales Growth Leader in Tech

If you’re looking for an example of a Colorado College alum making big strides in the world of tech, while also working hard to improve the world, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than Niyanta Khatri ’17. Khatri was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal and then moved to Pune, India before coming to CC and majoring in math and economics. As an international student, Khatri says there were a lot of unknowns for her. She didn’t know what the campus would be like or how she would adapt as a student. Being so far from home was definitely a struggle. “The biggest adjustment for me was having to think about spending time with family. As an international student, short trips home were just not possible,” Khatri says.

During her time at CC, Khatri cofounded a company with two other students, Harvey Kadyanji ’18 and John Roy Dommet ’18, called Ogugu. She compares it to what the companies Square and Stripe are doing today with QR code sales, but focusing specifically on the sub-Saharan African region. The group picked the location as it was where Kadyanji is from, but Khatri says she connected with it as the economy there was very similar to her own home. She brought her understanding of these markets as a strength to the project. “I had a passion for sales. Understanding data to be able to tell the story,” she says. The trio participated in The Big Idea pitch competition at CC and earned multiple grants to fund the project. Ogugu is now part of Dar Teknohama Business Incubator, the fastest growing accelerator in Tanzania.

In today’s tech-heavy world, some see liberal arts schools as archaic institutions that don’t really prepare students for the modern job market. But Khatri says absolutely not. She truly believes CC is an excellent pipeline to the tech world. “The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about liberal arts education in the tech world is interdisciplinary thinking. The education I got at CC encouraged this kind of thinking.” This way of approaching tasks is becoming increasingly important in the tech industry as companies try to create more holistic products. “Individuals with this dynamic background are able to draw on multiple disciplines to be able to solve complex problems and develop innovative solutions. That is something very niche to liberal arts students.”

On top of this liberal arts strength, Khatri credits the intensity, pace, and format of study that CC provides with being a great foundation for her current work. “The critical thinking skills that we developed at a very fast pace at CC have become a great skill set and were a value I brought with me into the tech world. Finding creative solutions to problems within a tight timeline is something I thrive in now because that’s what I did for four years in Colorado.” Khatri also notes that the project-based learning she had at CC provided great preparation for her career in tech, where project work is at the core of innovation.

Today, Khatri is a sales growth leader, working for Logitech — a company she started with as an intern while she was still at CC. Because of the Block Plan, she was even able to extend her internship for a couple blocks. Khatri now works in the company’s sales organization and was key in the its transition from B2C to B2B, filling many roles during that growth. One of these positions required a move to Toronto (at the start of the pandemic!) where she led a team to set up an entirely new sales structure for the company in Canada while working completely virtually from her apartment. “I never met any of my team in-person until my farewell dinner!” Khatri says things were unclear at the start, between pandemic and isolation issues, whether or not the project would happen. “We thought the work would be a little slow during that time. I’ve never been so busy in my entire life.” The hard work paid off and Khatri and her team made the largest deal in Logitech history.

When Khatri first entered the tech industry, she worried that she stood out for all the wrong reasons. “I thought being a woman, being an immigrant, were not selling points. I thought they were areas I needed to hide to fit the mold of the tech industry.” Thankfully, Khatri found great mentorship in Silicon Valley that helped her see otherwise. “I’m the best person for the job because I’m a woman of color, I’m an immigrant, I’m a millennial,” says Khatri. “What hiring managers are looking for are things I naturally possess. I don’t have to learn the diverse ways of thinking about certain problems.” Khatri notes that because of where she grew up and all the places she’s moved, this lens comes very naturally to her. “I get the nuances of different cultures because that’s what my experience has been.” Her advice to women of color who want to get into tech is, “reach out to the people that look like you.” As someone who was once there, she knows it’s intimidating, but completely worth the effort. “People are really helpful. Have your ask very specific and connect with the right people. You will realize the power of network.”

Beyond her day job, Khatri is now working to give back to her community. As someone who moved away from her home country to go to school and work abroad, one of Khatri’s biggest concerns is not wanting to be part of her country’s “brain drain.” She knew she had to use her success to give back to Nepal — particularly, the women of Nepal. “I wanted to figure out how to use my skillset, my network, and my experience to give back.” She began with the idea of offering workshops to grassroots level women entrepreneurs, providing them with the business acumen to take their concepts further. She is now working with both a woman’s organization and a private equity firm in Nepal. With their help, Khatri is founding an accelerator that allows women entrepreneurs to apply for grants and then take them through a six to twelve-month process focusing on their product and bringing it to market. The program will provide one-on-one mentorships and bring in experts from different parts of Nepal as well as international individuals and organizations. The long-term goal? “It’s going to be a platform for women to women, that focuses on allyship and mentorship but also really helping women taking their businesses to the next level,” Khatri says. She notes that there are a lot of women out there who have amazing talent and an amazing product, but just no network and no resources. Her goal is to help that marginalized group.

If you would like to contact Niyanta Khatri, reach out to her through her LinkedIn profile.

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