My Name Is Matt Bilan — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
Was your calendar full of activities as a kid? Mine certainly was. Basketball, soccer, and hockey at the local YMCA — I found myself gravitating towards team sports. I also played trombone in my school’s ensemble and joined a garage band as a drummer, spending countless hours jamming with my friends. Whatever the activity was, I knew that I liked the dynamic of working with others.
I have always loved being part of a team and accomplishing something meaningful together.
At Purdue University, I kept the extracurriculars going with intramural roller hockey and soccer. For my major, I chose management information systems. I had always been fascinated by technology — my idea of fun was customizing configuration files of computer games and helping friends assemble their computers. I knew I wanted to use technology to make a real impact on the world and help people solve problems. But I was not yet sure how to build a career doing that.
I moved to Chicago after graduation, where I joined an emerging company that builds electronic data discovery software for the legal technology industry. As a member of the channel sales team, I gave demos and ran training sessions for our partners. I was tasked with understanding customers’ needs and connecting those needs with the products we offered.
I loved contributing to a team that directly helped customers, but I wanted to have a greater impact on our actual products. I learned a lot about market forces from my interactions with customers, and now I was ready to apply this knowledge to building products that could actually solve these problems. So when the opportunity to join the product team arose, I jumped.
As a product owner, I interviewed internal and external stakeholders to gather feedback. I worked closely with the scrum team to ensure their backlog was prioritized. I also learned about the strategic side of product management from senior members of the team and eventually took strategic ownership of a few products and initiatives.
Working with teammates to design, build, and launch solutions that delighted customers was thrilling.
But I wanted to continue to grow my career. I found an opportunity as a product manager for a company that makes claims solutions software for automobile insurance carriers. This role allowed me to move back to my birthplace of San Diego, California. I was able to focus more on the strategic and business side of product management rather than the tactical side. I spent most of my time interacting with customers and meeting with a large and diverse group of internal stakeholders.
As a senior member of the product team, I acted as a mentor and coach for less-experienced product managers. I guided them on best practices and taught them how to write requirements and groom a backlog. I took great pride in teaching others how to bring impactful solutions to market more effectively.
When I was ready for my next challenge, I thought back to my time in Chicago. We had used Aha! to build out product plans and scale a growing product portfolio. Having a single tool for all my product needs blew me away — years later I still frequented the Aha! blog. After reading some of the team’s stories, I became curious about joining the Customer Success team.
My desire to help fellow product folks seemed to align perfectly with the role. Throughout the interview process, I met with smart and curious people who genuinely wanted to learn about me and what I envisioned for my career. Since joining, I have loved serving product teams by learning about their most critical goals and showing what is possible with our software. And internally, I get to test new features for our own product team and think of creative solutions for our users.
Everyone at Aha! is incredibly smart and talented. I am constantly in awe of my teammates and how we collaborate to accomplish great things.
Because the entire company is distributed, we all trust each other to bring our best selves to work every day. Not having to commute to an office also affords me more time for family, friends, and hobbies. Outside of work, I still play sports and even record music in my modest home studio. And I have the privilege of belonging to a truly world-class team of product experts. What could be better than that?
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.