My Name Is James Harris — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Long Island, NY | Photo by James Harris, Aha! Strategy

June 25, 2021

My Name Is James Harris — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

by Why I Joined Aha!

I gravitate towards new places and new people. This is probably because I spent much of my childhood experiencing both. My dad worked in automotive consulting, so we moved back and forth between the United Kingdom and United States several times. It was challenging to integrate (and reintegrate) myself into different cultures and schools. But each relocation deeply shaped who I am and what I value. Fresh challenges energize me — transforming the unknown into something I can understand is how I make sense of the world.

I love applying frameworks of knowledge to new situations in order to derive patterns and solve problems.

In my first year at Cornell University, I discovered economics. The logical nature of it greatly appealed to me. When it came time to do summer internships, I wanted to explore new cultures along the way — completing rotations in finance and consulting in Mumbai, India, then in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Working in emerging markets and living abroad was thrilling.

I chose to return to the UAE after graduation to begin my career at the management consulting firm Booz & Company. I contributed to a variety of projects including IT strategy development, service portfolio enhancement, and operating model design. It was fulfilling to go deep into a topic, spot patterns, and come up with insights to help clients. In my free time, I enjoyed traveling all over the Middle East and interacting with locals.

After a couple of years living abroad, I was ready to be closer to family. I transferred to the firm's Chicago office but soon found myself yearning for greater personal investment in my work. Instead of giving suggestions for how clients could improve their business, I wanted to actually see that work through and drive real change. To grow my skill set, I enrolled in business school. The consulting firm agreed to sponsor my program, so long as I returned to my job after earning my MBA.

During business school, I worked for a few venture capital firms. I discovered that the world of startups and entrepreneurship deeply resonated with me — when everything is new and the stakes are high, you have to deliver value fast.

I felt deeply invested in supporting startup founders who were coming up with novel solutions to significant problems.

Once I finished business school, I returned to consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers who had acquired Booz & Company while I was away. I soon joined their new ventures group, where I co-founded an enterprise SaaS product for automating employee onboarding. Leading a team and bringing a product from idea to market was gratifying. Product management reminded me of what I loved about economics and consulting — strategic thinking, distilling problems into components, and applying structure to repeatable processes. But now instead of simply making recommendations to clients, I was leading the team that actually made it happen.

After several years leading that product, I was ready for my next challenge. I wanted to go even deeper into product management while contributing to a high-growth SaaS company. I had heard of Aha! while researching the enterprise SaaS market but had never used the software. When I saw an open role on LinkedIn for a director of strategic success, I was intrigued. It sounded like a perfect fit. Learning about the history of Aha! and speaking to several team members confirmed this.

Today, I work cross-functionally to help drive value for our business. I am most proud of helping to launch the Aha! Partner Program at the end of 2020. I work closely with our partners to ensure they provide excellent services to our customers on a consistent basis. Our select group of partners does everything from helping organizations roll out Aha! products to assisting customers with major transformation initiatives. Recently I also began serving as a product manager for our conversion team at Aha! — finding new growth opportunities through innovative customer acquisition strategies.

I am constantly learning and working on a diverse set of opportunities— every day presents a new chance to create real value.

Learning and working with the best is inspiring. It is a privilege to be part of a company that actually lives its values. We put people first and make decisions that are rooted in integrity, ambition, and team spirit. Knowing that I am helping customers all over the world is also a huge motivator. I am always looking ahead to what we will achieve together next.

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

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