This Wall Street Banker Turned Her Life Around After Learning Coding By Herself

Jessica Lachs was a successful Wall Street banker when her epiphany moment struck in 2008 with the financial crisis. She had a successful job at Lehman Brothers, one of the most famous banks to collapse in the crisis. Lachs decided to leave the pursuit of jobs and get an MBA in order to increase chances of her career prospects in the future. But she found out that finance wasn’t intriguing her anymore. She decided to take a general manager job at the famous food delivery startup DoorDash. When she started looking at the spreadsheets and pieces of software used at DoorDash, she came to know the unimaginable power of software. Lachs decided to learn programming. Her plan was to focus on just one programming language. But it look a long time for Lachs to embark a conclusive journey. She enrolled herself in various classes at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Lachs says that the basic computer science course didn’t make her feel any spark. But entrepreneurship course rejuvenated the idea of endless possibilities and the importance of starting businesses.

Lachs’ first business was GiftSimple, a website where family members could contribute to buy an expensive gift for a loved one.

After a few months, Lachs came in contact with Tony Xu, the founder and CEO of DoorDash, the famous food delivery startup. Xu is a Stanford graduate who founded his company in 2013. Lachs was hired as a General Manager at DoorDash in 2014. The company was in a process of expanding to new cities.  At that time, DoorDash had a cozy startup environment. Lachs had to wear multiple hats, including pitching to new restaurants, orienting new drivers, and even taking out garbage every Saturday night. But things took a revolutionary turn when DoorDash felt the need of processing the truckloads of data it had. The data included important metrics like the most important food items on weekends, number of orders based on areas, most popular burgers etc.

Lachs decided to take the challenge. She took a beginners course on SQL and databases. Lachs says that a two-week SQL course is enough to give you a basic sense of pulling and extracting data, but you’ll need more effort and work on cleaning and manipulating data as the data sets in companies and big projects are huge and complex. Pretty soon, Lachs started answering key questions for DoorDash, and that made a huge difference for the company down the road.

Jessica Lachs is now the head of business operations and Analytics at DoorDash. About 8 people are working under her. DoorDash now has a total value of $700 million. The company  recently started using robots to deliver food in California.


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