When Janet Lustgarten, now the CEO of Kx Systems, arrived in Miami from Colombia at the age of seven, she spoke no English. Without a mastery of the English language, she looked to mathematics for a way to excel in school.
Lustgarten’s love of numbers led her to become the first Mount Holyoke student ever to earn a degree in computer science and mathematical logic. Ambitious from the start, Lustgarten talked her way into her first postcollegiate job by suggesting the creation of a technical support department at a New York City computer retailer.
When Lustgarten wanted to return to school, she set her sights on Columbia University’s graduate program in engineering. They turned her down. Believing she was rejected based on the English section of her GREs, Lustgarten wrote to the university and argued for her abilities. Columbia reversed its decision, and Lustgarten earned her master’s in computer science.
After working as a consultant for Price Waterhouse and two artificial intelligence companies, Lustgarten decided it was time to run her own company. Kx Systems, founded in 1993, has flourished under her leadership. Today, the company is the worldwide market leader in the area of high-volume, high-performance databases.