My Name Is Tahlia Sutton — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
September 1, 2016

My Name Is Tahlia Sutton — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

by Why I Joined Aha!

I wanted to design buildings. I love the breadth of skill that architecture requires — a mix of practical and strategic, creative and scientific, and overall leadership and business acumen.

In college, I studied civil engineering and business finance at Loyola Marymount University, and then went on to the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego, CA. However, my path shifted when I learned about an exciting opportunity and accepted a role at a growing technology juggernaut named Cisco Systems. I went from learning to design buildings to learning to build software.

I developed an insatiable desire to learn how to define, design, and build different types of software. Clearly, I was not meant to be an architect — I was a software product manager.

Each new experience was more invigorating than the last. When agile development methodologies were just starting to gain momentum, I learned how to apply and scale it across large teams. And I learned from one of the best — Ken Schwaber, one of the fathers of the manifesto. I was at the forefront of mobile technology and spoke at large conferences, including CTIA — The Wireless Association. I had the privilege to influence women in the industry to take greater leadership roles.

Throughout it all, I loved building new products — the market research, usability testing, prototyping, beta testing, and launching. Continuing to drive a product forward, learning, then iterating again.

I found myself wanting to build even more, which led to pursuing one startup after another. However, after many years of chasing new and exciting ideas, I decided to put family and lifestyle first.

I have two beautiful girls and a very supportive husband. Together, we made the decision to stop moving around and settle in Hawaii. We have a personal history with the islands, and when the Aloha spirit is embedded in your blood, it is very difficult to get out. Once we made the move, I immediately felt at peace — except when it came to figuring out what was next for my career.

I was determined to find that dream job — one that would feed the fire in my belly, value my over 15 years of product management experience, and still make it possible to put my family first.

To tide me over, I picked up a consulting job. I needed a product management tool that would help me roadmap the client’s complex product structure, make strategy visible across their portfolio, and help mature their product management discipline. Aha! was that tool.

I started a trial account, watched every video, and shared the product management guide. I started to evangelize Aha! as if I worked there. And one day it dawned on me: “Aha! shares the same love of product management that I do. I need to learn more about the people behind it.”

Once I discovered that Aha! has an entirely distributed team, I couldn’t submit my resume fast enough. Even faster than my submission was the response back from the most infectiously energetic representative of Aha! — Jamey.

Every conversation with the team at Aha! got better and better. The most appealing aspect was the humility, kindness, and responsiveness throughout what is typically a very stressful process.

After joining the Customer Success team at Aha!, I immediately got to work helping product managers. Recently, I met with a customer who required some guidance setting up a fairly complex product hierarchy. As a result of our conversation, he realized that a good portion of their current and planned work did not align to their established corporate strategy — they were not delivering the kind of value needed to meet their business goals.

Aha! helped highlight that they were misaligned. He sent a follow-up note that he had reprioritized features and releases to roll up to his initiatives and goals, and that he looked like a hero to his company. It was a thrilling and gratifying moment for me.

After years of chasing that elusive game-changing company, I can say I found it. With my family and career goals in place and aligned, I now have my dream job at Aha!

Looking back, I remember thinking any company would be grateful to have me. But honestly, I am the one who is grateful to be working with such an amazing team.

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

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