My Name Is Austin Merritt — This Is What I Achieve at Aha!
What is the best way to accelerate your career? Work in a high-growth company that challenges you and puts learning first. An unwavering motivation to continue improving and achieving is also key. The highest performers constantly pursue new ideas and seek to understand the experiences and motivations of the people around them. We can learn a lot from them.
Curiosity fuels growth — which is why we want to bring you personal stories of achievement from talented people. Our hope is that some of their ideas are useful and maybe even inspirational as you work to become your best.
Meet Austin Merritt, a group manager of product management on the Aha! product and UX team. Austin is passionate about giving product builders the tools they need to deliver better customer experiences. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama and enjoys getting outside with his family to explore nature and play sports.
Read on to learn more about how Austin helps his teammates succeed and challenges himself to grow — in his own words.
What energizes you about being a product manager?
"Product management hinges on continuous growth and improvement. I love identifying ways to refine our products and deliver even more value to our customers."
"At Aha! we launch releases every week. This means that our products evolve quickly — we are constantly challenging ourselves to improve the customer experience. Beyond the product, I also make a point to regularly reflect on team and personal growth. Going to our company onsites every six months, for example, is a valuable opportunity to see how much our team has grown. Or watching one of our product managers share something new they are working on — it is a great reminder that we are all committed to learning and tackling new challenges."
Which recent accomplishment at Aha! are you most proud of?
"I was recently involved in the Aha! Create launch, which was particularly exciting for a couple of reasons. First, it was a fun challenge to introduce an entirely new solution for product builders to conceptualize their thinking and collaborate with teammates. Second, Aha! Create is our first product that benefits from a large collection of templates so there were loads of new things to learn — from establishing the right metrics to track to driving ongoing use. Although I have since transitioned to focus on Aha! Roadmaps, Ideas, and Develop, it was thrilling to be a part of bringing Aha! Create to product teams everywhere."
What have you done to help your teammates succeed?
"At Aha! I have grown from an individual contributor to group manager. It is a privilege to now lead an amazing group of senior product managers and be directly involved in helping them succeed."
"I am constantly honing my leadership style and approach, but I always make an effort to provide a safe space for the team to ask questions and share their work in progress."
"I try to be someone who product managers can come to with the issues they are working through — a particularly challenging feature, a prioritization decision, or a launch that is at risk. Being present and listening actively builds trust and makes folks feel comfortable. And it typically leads to people surfacing great solutions all on their own."
What is the most surprising but useful career advice someone has given you?
"Over communicate. Even if you are tired of saying something, it may be the first time that someone on the broader product development team has heard it. This perspective has been invaluable to me throughout my career as a product manager. After all, we are constantly sharing updates — what is coming next and when, what the team needs to know in order to support customers, and so on. It is our job to keep communicating to make sure the right people receive the message at the right time."
What advice do you have for an aspiring or early-career product manager?
"It has been exciting to see the product management field grow so much over the past decade. But at the same time, it can be overwhelming to try to learn all the best practices and keep up with success stories. I can understand how a new product manager might feel intimidated or even discouraged."
"Embrace your inner confidence — you bring unique strengths and experiences to the role that nobody else does."
"Did you start out in customer success? Great! You know the customers better than anyone. Engineering? Great! You know the technical depths of the product. Use your experience — whatever it is — to become the go-to expert on your product management team. Then build on what you know and keep growing your product expertise."
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