My Name Is Deirdre Clarke — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
It all started with Mensa and math. As a kid, I loved to solve Mensa puzzles with my dad. I enjoyed the pattern recognition and problem-solving games. So when a high school math teacher introduced me to programming, I knew I had found an entirely new type of puzzle. And I could not wait to solve it.
I went on to study computer science in college and became a software developer. I helped build software products in the cable television industry. I was happy and content as a developer. It was rewarding work — there is no better feeling than when you see that your code works!
Most of my work as a developer concentrated around launching new products. One day, a senior executive asked me into his office. We chatted for a few minutes before he told me the real reason behind the meeting: “You should be a product manager.”
That senior executive believed I had the rare combination of soft skills and technical prowess required to be a great product manager.
I was not as sure. I am definitely an extrovert and enjoy relating and interacting with people. But it took a little convincing to transition from software developer to product manager. After a lot of thought, I decided to take the plunge.
Now it is hard to imagine what life would be like if I had not — product management was the perfect fit for me. My favorite part of being a product manager was working with customers. I loved helping them use our software to solve problems they experienced in their daily lives.
After becoming a product manager, it became more apparent that I am passionate about technology and helping people. And when the two intersect, I am the most fulfilled.
In 2014, I launched TechGirlz in my spare time. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to introducing, educating, and inspiring middle school girls in the North Carolina Triangle area to pursue a career in technology. We grew the volunteer base from one (me!) to more than 70 and held approximately 25 hands-on sessions in less than 18 months.
Meanwhile, in my day job as a product manager at a communications technology company, we used product discovery methodologies to validate that a problem existed before building the software. In between my work and volunteer time, I enjoyed reading and writing product management blog posts. I was all in on product management.
And that is how I ultimately found the Aha! blog. The articles resonated with me in three ways: the pursuit of product management best practices, becoming a better leader, and discovering a great way to run a company. I started using the product and quickly realized how awesome it was. I also started to grow more interested in learning about the team that was building it.
Aha! solved all of my pain points as a product manager — and I immediately knew it could help change the lives of many other product managers as well.
The awesome power of the Aha! software was compelling, but the unique approach to serving customers and helping them to become better product managers was inspiring. It was mentorship in action, and I wanted to be part of it. I soon realized that a role on the Customer Success team was right up my alley — technology, product management, and helping people!
The more people I talked to at Aha! during the interview process, the more I knew it was the right company and team for me. Not only could I start helping others immediately, but I could also continue to grow my skills in those three key areas: product management, leadership, and growing a business.
I have always heard that, to become a better player, you need to surround yourself with people who are better than you are. And I joined a team of rock stars at Aha!
Since joining the Aha! Customer Success team, it has been nothing but awesome. What a true pleasure it is to start work each morning knowing that I get to help customers with a product they truly love. (Yes, they tell us that all the time!) The icing on the cake is that I also get to work with super smart people who are just so grounded, helpful, and fun.
Since day one, I have worked with companies who are changing the world with their own products. Not only do I get to help them, but they help me — by inspiring me to keep growing my own product management chops.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.