Five bucks. That was my reward for drawing a cartoon that made my dad laugh. As a kid, a few dollars was plenty of motivation — do you know how many packs of Big League Chew you could buy? But the true prize was earning a deep chuckle. To do so, I had to figure out how to use my visual storytelling skills, awareness of context and timing, and understanding of my dad’s sense of humor to snag that gum money.
I did not realize it at the time, but this was the beginning of my passion for the Complete Product Experience — the totality of every interaction an audience has with a product.
I moved from my home state of Pennsylvania to South Carolina for college, where I studied radio and television broadcasting and minored in graphic design. I continued my studies there through graduate school, earning a master’s degree in broadcast management.
After completing my education, I accepted a production manager role at a minor league baseball stadium. My job was to provide a fantastic experience for attendees from the moment they entered the parking lot until they left after the game. My teammates and I were responsible for every entertainment touchpoint — the videos and graphics on the outfield screen, music, mid-inning contests, fireworks shows, and more.
After a few years, I was ready to branch out. A coworker and I started our own entertainment company, doing video production and graphic design for clients in the education and healthcare industries. While it was rewarding to run my own company, I felt a pull to return to Pennsylvania so my wife and I could be closer to family as we started our own.
My sister-in-law was working at an enterprise SaaS startup there and suggested I interview for a customer support position. A month later, I accepted the job and moved with my wife back to our home state. Initially, I onboarded and trained customers but soon was asked to join a new team tasked with expanding the company’s learning resources. As an instructional designer, I wrote and produced videos, launched the knowledge base, and built interactive courses for our users.
Then instructional design was folded under a burgeoning UX team. Here was a career-defining opportunity to enter the field of user experience. So I convinced my new manager to let me join the weekly design critique meetings. Outside of work, I read books and took courses to learn everything I could about product design. A few years later, I was promoted to UX designer. I loved taking a holistic view of the product and user base. My support and instructional design background gave me insight into how each interaction a customer had with the company contributed to the user experience.
UX perfectly merged everything I found exciting about building products — visual design, usability, storytelling, and problem-solving.
I was not actively looking for a new opportunity when I came across a job posting for a designer at Aha! — but I was intrigued. Our team used the roadmapping software for our daily work, so I understood the enormous value it provided for product teams firsthand. I applied out of curiosity. Within hours, a member of the People Success team reached out to me. I could not believe the swiftness — it made a great first impression. From The Responsive Method to the unique culture, I loved everything I learned about Aha! as a company.
Since joining, I have contributed to features such as user story mapping and commenting on images. It is fulfilling to use my skills to ensure that our customers have smooth interactions with our software. And my teammates are the best — everyone is kind, quick to respond, and willing to help.
I appreciate how the leaders at Aha! are intentional about growing the company. They have found a great balance between moving quickly and maintaining quality. The decision to reject venture capital is also admirable. Having experienced the opposite at prior companies, I appreciate that we stay focused on what matters most — customers and the team.
Instead of drawing cartoons for an audience of one (my dad), I now help design new functionality for more than 300,000 users. But my motivation remains the same — to deeply understand my audience and deliver a satisfying Complete Product Experience. And hopefully, to earn a giggle of lovable delight every now and then.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.