My Name Is Jay Margolis — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
June 5, 2020

My Name Is Jay Margolis — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

by Why I Joined Aha!

I always knew I wanted to be a programmer. As a kid, I taught myself to program on an Atari 400. I created simple graphical games to play with my friends. It was a thrill to use my creativity to make something fun from seemingly nothing. Later I studied computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, where I enjoyed learning advanced programming languages like Prolog and Lisp. I became particularly fascinated by the human factor of software engineering. Specifically, how the design of user interfaces shapes people's interactions with technology.

Technology should enhance rather than hinder — you need to think deeply about who your users are and how they will use what you build.

Early in my career I joined a small software consulting business. Our customers were steel manufacturing experts who needed help optimizing and modernizing their systems. During our conversations, it became clear that they needed a flexible solution to handle changes that were not always in their control. I built a solution with a user interface that allowed them to make adjustments without having to request a programming change. Our customers were delighted by the increased autonomy.

Later I joined an enterprise software company where I developed project portfolio management tools for IT and consulting teams. I focused my development work on empowering our customers — especially those without extensive programming experience — to customize and configure the software themselves.

Because the company was growing quickly, I also improved our own workflows to ensure on-time delivery and encourage more cross-functional collaboration. Over the years I assumed leadership roles in several fast-growing enterprise software companies — helping to scale each business and improve the development process. But this work took me further away from the code and building actual products.

As a team leader, I missed using my programming skills to build something that directly solved customers' problems.

So I decided to make a change. I stepped away from my managerial roles and returned to my roots as a software engineer. Joining a small SaaS company accelerating the clinical study startup process, I developed features enabling customers to build customizable workflows, identify and resolve bottlenecks, and re-project key milestones.

I first found out about Aha! on Hacker News. Here was a company without VC funding or salespeople that was profitable and rapidly growing. I had recently started working remotely, so the entirely distributed team was appealing. I knew I wanted to learn more about the engineering team and where the company was headed.

When the timing was right, I connected with the People Success team at Aha! about an open position. Each conversation painted a clear picture of what working there would be like. The company values really spoke to me, as did the human-centric approach to building a company and lovable products. I could tell this was my kind of place.

Since joining the engineering team, I have worked on everything from feature card customization to simplifying reporting for our customers. I also contribute to usability and performance improvements. Since we deploy daily (and actually use Aha! to manage our own work), we are extra motivated to constantly make the application better.

It is exciting to see an improvement or new feature that I work on appear in production right away — especially when I know it solves a pain point or helps our customers do great work.

Our development process gives me the freedom to be curious and creative. I have the flexibility to work on a variety of challenging projects, and there is always something new to learn from my teammates. It is a joy to be part of a team of highly experienced, thoughtful, kind, and motivated people. We all care deeply about the human side of software. It is all about solving problems and building a product that people love to use.

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

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