My Name Is Donna Sawyer — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
November 4, 2015

My Name Is Donna Sawyer — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

by Why I Joined Aha!

Some memories last a lifetime — MIT’s Infinite Corridor is one of mine. When I am asked what MIT was like during college, the Corridor is the first thing that I share. Most people are surprised at first, until I tell them why.

The Corridor is 825 feet of breakthroughs you will not witness anywhere else on earth. It takes about three minutes to walk (or more, if your sluggish feet are avoiding a looming final). Within those three minutes, you can hear a dozen languages engaged in just as many debates about technology.

What I remember most was the passion and energy that engulfed the Corridor. People were discussing ideas because doing so had intrinsic value — it was fun, they were interested, and they cared. The passion of opposing perspectives was everywhere, and the value in sharing them was exponential.

I did not realize it then, but I was witnessing how people innovate. That exposure to the Corridor sparked my love of technology and innovation. I knew I wanted to build great products.

I was drawn to product management because I saw how it resembled the Infinite Corridor. Ultimately, the best product managers serve to promote communication, gather diverse perspectives, and make the right decisions to create significant value for customers and their companies.

Since my time at MIT, I have been incredibly fortunate. I have owned the product roadmap for a SaaS payments solution with over 300,000 participants, directed product lifecycles for 50+ engagements, and even led a company-wide transition from transitional to a more agile approach to product development. Life has been good.

Fast forward to earlier this year. I was at Amazon Robotics as a technical product manager. I was busy driving innovation at Amazon — facilitating communication, bringing perspectives together in new ways, and building multi-year product roadmaps.

But there were so many voices to shepherd — even at Amazon, one of the world’s most innovative companies. And all of these voices said different things, as they were each focused on their needs for the product and business.

I realized that I needed a better way to prioritize what mattered most to the business and bring an even greater level of transparency to the roadmap planning process. I needed a new framework to help me make better decisions and keep the team up-to-date.

Then one day, I read an Aha! blog post about sharing your product vision — and the message instantly resonated with me. So, I took a chance and reached out to the team to learn more. After a few conversations, I knew that Aha! could solve my product management problems.

And then I realized that I wanted to be even closer to the solution. I wanted to be on the inside — and part of the team that is changing how companies innovate and build product. And I wanted to help others get the most out of Aha!

Finding Aha! was like stumbling across the Infinite Corridor all over again.

At Aha! I could help people enter their own Corridor. What better way than to join a team that empowers product managers to do just that for their own teams? I am thrilled to join the Customer Success team at Aha! to help others create brilliant, passion-building roadmaps for their own innovative products.

Aha! empowers product managers to weave strategy and objective prioritization into everything their teams achieve. The product goal becomes so obvious to everyone that all happily step in to shine. Being a part of this team has taught me that product managers do not have to be “shepherds” of perspectives – they just need the right tools to enable their passion to come alive.

Oh, and one more thing you should know about the Infinite Corridor. Sometimes, if you catch it just right, you can see the sun set perfectly in line with the entrance door. When that happens, the entire 825 feet is bathed in glorious sunlight for just a few moments. You watch as people stop to admire the sight.

Amazing moments like this are meant to be shared. And I am thrilled to join a team dedicated to letting those innovative moments thrive, be shared, and multiply in value along the way to amazing products.

This is why I joined Aha! — and you should too.