My Name Is Shawn Zenz — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
January 4, 2019

My Name Is Shawn Zenz — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

by Why I Joined Aha!

You could say I grew up in the middle of nowhere. (“Nowhere” is an hour outside of Toronto, to be exact.) The remote location lacked the amenities of a big city, but we had something else — the space to learn without distraction. I spent hours taking apart and reassembling dirt bike engines, small electronics, and computers. Even as a kid, I knew there was so much more to explore beyond my rural hometown.

This curiosity is what drove me to go to college. I was the first person in my family to do so and I saw it as my opportunity to grow and learn.

However, my college experience was far from typical. As I was entering university with a focus on computer networking, I had the opportunity to work at a small IT consultancy. Anxious to gain experience, I accepted the job. It paid off — the real-world practice helped me excel in school and I even made my way onto the dean’s honor list.

The experience inspired me to start my own business. So after graduating college, I launched my own consultancy — helping small- and medium-sized businesses transform their IT processes, migrate to cloud infrastructure, and digitize their practices. What I did not anticipate was that this kind of work meant my future would be working alone in data centers and server rooms. After a year or so, I found myself yearning for a change.

I loved working with customers — I wanted to form connections with people and make a larger impact.

This is when I decided to join a small software company in Ottawa as a sales engineer for a product focused on IT professionals. It was a time of rapid personal growth for me. I had the opportunity to launch a global customer training initiative and travel the world — from the Netherlands to New Zealand — training more than 600 customers in the process.

After a few short years, I was leading the sales engineering team. A bit later, the company was purchased and then the acquirer went public. People and positions began to shift, and I was asked by our new VP of product management if I was interested in joining the product team. I jumped at the offer and soon was managing the core platform (a remote monitoring and management product), which generated the majority of revenue for our organization.

Product management was totally new to me, but I had an advantage — I fundamentally understood what our customers needed because they were IT professionals just like me.

During my eight years with the company, it had grown from just over 100 people when I first started to more than 2,000. I was thrilled with the opportunities I had earned, but I was ready to get back to a smaller, fast-growing company. So, I took a product management role at a software firm that was looking to reinvent itself by targeting a new market — drivers of service vehicles. We partnered with an IoT company to bring solutions to connected vehicles, enabling drivers to do things like track expenditures and dispatch work. I was proud to tap into this new market and make a splash with our product.

It was around this time that I started hearing a lot about Aha! — both the product and the company.

I had struggled in the past to manage all my team’s ideas in one place. So I was intrigued by the software’s collaborative capabilities as well as its ability to capture product strategy and link it directly to features. I also appreciated how Aha! was helping so many other companies innovate. When I found out about an open role on the Customer Success team, I knew I had to apply.

The interview process went quickly. Each person I spoke with took the time to explain what life was like at Aha! — not just the details of the role but also the mission to change the way companies innovate and build better products. It was the kind of impactful work I was searching for.

Now that I am on the Aha! team, I get to help fellow product managers around the world capture strategy, present their vision, and build meaningful products.

Working with our customers each day is fulfilling — I am learning about their various products and processes. And I am proud that I can help influence their work for the better. But I am also incredibly proud of our team.

It is exciting to be part of such a high-performing community — like-minded people who are striving to help other teams around the world do better work and enjoy what they do at the same time.

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