Xbox Partner Engineer Padma Parthasarathy was born to be an engineer. Growing up in Chennai, India, her family was of the mindset that “one must become an engineer, a doctor, or nothing.” Her brother became an engineer, so the pressure was on. Padma got a degree in Math and Computer Engineering and married an engineer, for good measure.
Padma and her husband moved to the US for his job with HP and she soon landed at a mid-sized game console company in the early ‘90s. As graphics were becoming more central to gaming, her math and engineering background was much in demand. She soon moved on to WebTV, which was acquired by Microsoft in 1998. And the rest is history.
“There is a core group of eight to ten of us,” Padma says, “who have worked together from that time until now.” Jeff Andrews, now a Partner Director in Xbox Console Architecture, was the person who originally hired her and Nick Baker, Distinguished Engineer at Xbox Console Architecture, has been her manager for the past 15 years at Microsoft.
She continues, “We’ve all experienced a lot together from the first Xbox architecture straight through Xbox One. I’ve been involved with many different aspects of Xbox, but now I am in charge of verification and validation of the silicon chips – from development until they get productized.”
Padma also does lots of testing and debugging and improving elements in the background. She says, “I was very closely involved with the Xbox One launch and am focused on the future of silicon at Microsoft. Although I work for Xbox, we are the custom silicon group for the entire company and are trying to expand throughout Microsoft.
“The team still feels like a closely knit startup,” Padma says, “but we have the strength and depth of Microsoft of backing us up. There’s a real warmth and friendliness here. We’re more like a family as some of us have been together for almost 20 years.”
That said, Padma and the Xbox team welcome “the influx of ‘fresh blood.’” She says, “New hires are easily assimilated. That’s because the culture here is still really all about doing whatever it takes – as a team – to create the best Xbox. Personally, I really enjoy mentoring new engineers. This is a truly meritocratic environment and it is great to help people bring out their best ideas.”
As for being based at Microsoft Silicon Valley, she explains, “I am close to a lot of the hardware groups. There’s a really talented pool of people and we are near so many other tech innovations that are happening throughout the region. There is a real, tangible excitement here.”
She also takes a lot of pride in Microsoft’s Giving campaign and, in particular, the giving culture at Microsoft Silicon Valley. “We have a great culture of giving back. I work with a charity that combats blindness in India and enjoy Microsoft’s support in that important endeavor too,” she explains.
Padma was recently honored as a Partner Engineer, but she has had little time to slow down and appreciate the recognition other than to say, “There are many deserving people on the team.” Instead, she is focused on the next horizon and says, “I’m honestly most excited about developments at Microsoft that will make our work with silicon more central to new products across the company.”
A true engineer.