My Name Is Omar Collins — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Omar at our company onsite in Beaver Creek, Colorado | Photo by Omar Collins, Aha! engineering

August 19, 2022

My Name Is Omar Collins — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

by Why I Joined Aha!

"Mom, I'm going to work inside with air conditioning someday." I remember the questioning look on my mother's face when I told her this as a kid. She worked on farms and was accustomed to the Tennessee heat. But I was determined to do something different. Soon after that conversation, I won a Commodore 64 in a school raffle. I eagerly followed the instructions that came with it and taught myself to do basic programming.

From that moment on, my path was clear. I knew that computers represented the future — and I knew they would be my future.

I got everything I could out of that Commodore 64 and pored over magazines and movies to learn more about computers. In high school, I finally had the opportunity to take a programming class — fueling my interest in studying information technology. After that I decided to join the Navy to help fund my education.

I started out doing daily ship maintenance. But in the evenings, I trained to become an operations specialist — a goal I achieved in my first year. My job was to assist with shipboard navigation and communicate with helicopter pilots from the control room (the one with all the blue lights and radar screens, like you see in movies). This was a formidable experience to have at 19 years old, but it helped me learn how to handle weighty responsibilities with confidence.

During my eight years with the Navy, I completed my degree in information systems management. This helped me get my first IT job with the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. While I was no longer guiding aircrafts, this role had pressures of its own — I kept abuse hotline servers online and maintained call recordings for legal proceedings. I was glad to know that I was making an impact as I gained important experience.

I loved the security aspects of that job the most. This prompted my decision to transition to IT security. I knew it would be a hurdle to learn everything from compliance to incident response. But I went all in. I spent many nights and weekends preparing for the necessary certifications, eventually earning my masters degree in cybersecurity.

I have always been able to stay cool in high-pressure situations. With my experience, I felt ready for the responsibility of IT security work — where levelheaded vigilance matters.

I landed an IT security role with a federal government contractor. I helped to develop the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck system and participated in security control audits. While there, my team needed to get up to speed on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and I offered to specialize in it. I am always quick to volunteer when a job needs to be done — and I truly enjoyed building deep knowledge as a subject-matter expert. As time went on, my role expanded and I missed the focus on auditing and AWS. I was intrigued when I saw that Aha! had a job opening for a senior security engineer focused on exactly that. I applied right away.

I love that at Aha! I do not need to advocate for why security is important — the whole company understands its value. We set incredibly high standards for world-class protection and continuously validate our approach. Most recently, we completed our ISO 27001 certification renewal and received top marks in the process. It is rewarding to care for our customers with such rigorous standards.

I am also impressed by the Aha! company values and how closely they mirror my own. Learning, ambition, and integrity — these are not empty words. It has been a meaningful experience to see how the team lives out these values each day.

At Aha! we stand by our commitment to excellence — it is infused into everything from the way we do business to how we grow and achieve more together.

I have read dozens of our Why I Joined posts. These stories show how curious and self-motivated Aha! folks really are. This shared sense of determination is one thing that makes me feel connected to this team, even though we work remotely all over the world. And yes, if you are wondering — my home office in Tennessee is perfectly air-conditioned.

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

Related articles

How We Ran Our Best Virtual Offsite With 110 People
January 13, 2021
How We Ran Our Best Virtual Offsite With 110 People

Punta Mita. Key Largo. Lake Tahoe. These are a few of the places our company has been fortunate to call home — at least for a week. Every six months, our remote team…

Forbes Names Aha! to America’s Best Startups List
March 12, 2020
Forbes Names Aha! to America’s Best Startups List

We have been really busy in 2020. We introduced new workspaces for IT, project management, services, and business teams in January. Since then, we have continued to…

Aha! Commits $350,000 to Charitable Giving in 2021
December 17, 2020
Aha! Commits $350,000 to Charitable Giving in 2021

You can find Aha! teammates located across eight countries and 89 cities. Our team has a global reach — especially when it comes to helping those in need. I recently…

10 Tips From the Aha! Team on Working Remotely With a Full House
March 24, 2020
10 Tips From the Aha! Team on Working Remotely With a Full House

How can you be productive working remotely if the whole family is home? Read these 10 tips from our team on working remotely with a full house.