Meet the Aha! Fellows — Spring 2021 Class
Success is an invitation to give back. I am proud that our team at Aha! is helping thousands of customers build towards a better future. But I believe the most meaningful reverberation of success is not measured in revenue or growth but in the willingness to give our time, resources, and knowledge where it is needed. This is why it is so gratifying to have a formal program to share our product building expertise with groups who have been historically underrepresented in software.
Meaningful actions add up over time to help create a more equitable world and we hope to be part of creating that change.
This is why we launched the Aha! fellowship program last year. It grew organically out of Aha! Cares, our corporate philanthropy program centered around meeting people's fundamental needs of food, safety, shelter, and opportunity. As a profitable and growing software company, we have a moral responsibility to address issues of social injustice. Our fellowship program is designed to increase people's access to meaningful opportunities in technology.
It is worth noting that the Aha! fellowship is not an internship or work program — it is entirely educational and designed to benefit the fellows. Our inaugural class spent eight weeks at the end of 2020 gaining a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship, product management, and customer success. After graduation, many fellows accepted job offers at software companies. They all benefit from a supportive network they can call on in the future.
We are thrilled to welcome the eight fellows who are joining us for our spring 2021 Aha! fellowship.
Our People Success team reviewed hundreds of applications and conducted dozens of interviews to select this group. Besides attending seminars and collaborating on group projects, our fellows will work closely with mentors from our Customer Success team to learn how to build, launch, and support innovative products.
The curriculum also provides exposure to company and product building fundamentals — defining strategy, building roadmaps, and conducting customer demos to name a few. They will forge connections by joining company meetings and engaging in team-building activities with other fellows.
Our second class of Aha! fellows brings a diverse set of perspectives and experiences. Their backgrounds range from marketing and consulting to law and nonprofit. The entire team and I look forward to learning alongside these talented folks. Get to know our newest fellows, in their own words:
Elizabeth Cordova — Albuquerque, NM
Currently reading: The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
"I am passionate about using technology to help businesses and communities succeed. My ultimate goal is to lead a customer success team for a SaaS company that offers a great product. I am particularly excited to learn how to implement the vision of company leaders, support an amazing team, and build strong relationships with customers."
Jeffrey Clarke — Pembroke Pines, FL
Hidden talent: Singing, writing, and producing music
"I am proud to be the first person to graduate from Hamilton College with a degree in Technology and Digital Media. I designed this independent study major so I could explore the world of digital technology and UX. Now I am looking forward to gaining practical experience in product management and learning how to turn customer insights into solutions that are practical and scalable."
Junaid Chisty — Miami, FL
Favorite hobby: Writing — it helps me reflect on the past and retain knowledge for the future.
"I am hoping to learn a ton of practical skills — everything from how to develop a business plan and define user journeys to how to report on key metrics. My long-term career goal is to start a business or venture capital fund that gives back to those less fortunate. I want to focus on helping company founders who have disabilities or come from marginalized groups."
Kirk Wei — Bellevue, WA
Biggest influence: My father. He emigrated from Taiwan as a young man and taught me the importance of hard work, perseverance, and positivity.
"I have always loved working with customers, so I am looking forward to learning how to communicate with them in a more empathetic way. Aha! will be the perfect place to learn this. Because it is not only one of the most successful SaaS companies in the world, but it also has some of the most talented, kind-hearted team members. Everyone I have spoken to so far is happy to share their product knowledge with others."
Leah Miller — Denver, CO
Hidden talent: Creating free-hand isometric (3D) drawings of objects and scenes
"After reflecting on my professional experiences and strengths, I realized that product management is what I want to devote my energy to. The Aha! fellowship seemed like the perfect opportunity to grow my knowledge of product management. Besides gaining insight into the tech industry, I am eager to learn all about the inner workings of a software product that solves important problems for customers."
Nate Medina — Phoenix, AZ
Favorite hobby: Hiking every week with my wife and our two dogs, Lovely and Beauty
"I am on a mission to become an expert product leader. I feel grateful for the opportunity to join the Aha! fellowship program and learn how to strategize, build, launch, and support innovative products. Cultivating relationships with peers and mentors is also incredibly appealing. My long-term goal is to create products that empower all people to participate more fully in society, regardless of their race, gender, country of origin, or religion."
Shayla Price — Lauderhill, FL
Currently reading: It's About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage by Arlan Hamilton and Rachel Nelson
"I am deeply curious about developing, launching, and scaling software products. I value perseverance and hard work, so exploring product management in a rigorous and immersive learning environment sounds ideal. Giving back is also important to me. In my spare time, I mentor young marketers and volunteer to help fight childhood hunger."
Tiyani Majoko — New York, NY
Currently reading: The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton and Lara Love Hardin
"I love the intersection of law and technology. One of my proudest achievements is co-founding a legal tech startup — we help company founders connect with law firms who can help them scale their companies. But I am currently transitioning from law to product management. Product is an essential function in any business, and I am eager to learn the fundamentals of being a good product manager and supporting a team."
Creating meaningful opportunities for people is a privilege — we will always strive to make the world a more inclusive place.
Meaningful social change does not happen overnight — it requires commitment and dedication from all of us. If you are interested in creating your own fellowship program at your organization, let us know. We would love to share what we have learned so far from our experience so far.
And if you are interested in applying for our next Aha! fellowship, sign up to get notified when we will begin accepting our next round of applications. We are fortunate to be able to award each fellow a monthly stipend of $4200 so they can prioritize their own learning and development during the program.
The shine of giving back never fades — it magnifies. We all have the power to inspire more hope and generosity in our communities. Each one of us is capable of working together to increase opportunities for all. Each of us can contribute towards a brighter future.