My Name Is Suzanne Vaughan — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Visual product roadmaps scuba diving product manager

Product management is a metaphor for life. You start out with a vision of what you’d like your life to be and create a strategy with goals and initiatives to get there. I know because I have been a product manager and been around product managers most of my career. Except most of us don’t get there. Many of us wake up one day wondering “Is this it?”

I wish I could say I only had one “Is this it?” moment, but what counts is the one I had that led me to Aha! By all accounts, I was successful but I wasn’t fulfilled. It happened one late night while I was running through an airport to catch a connecting flight to go visit a customer to discuss a product I didn’t believe in.

“Is this really who I want to be?” I asked myself.

Two weeks later, I resigned. A sabbatical was in order – I needed to finally figure out where I would be challenged, how I’d make a difference and what would feed my soul. What followed was a year of soul searching that began with three months spent on a tiny island scuba diving. And here is what I discovered.

Love, be authentic, and connect to what you do and who you are

Waking up with a curiosity and eagerness to give your entire self to what you’re doing is essential to fulfillment. While becoming a dive master, I had only myself to please. It was a very selfish time but a very necessary time to remember what it feels like to be uncompromising.

I had the most thrilling and magical experience of my life when a school of dolphins began swimming in circles around me, so drawn to me even the other divers commented. That connection evoked so much in me that even today, if I think about it, I am moved. I learned that, for me, connection is a powerful and essential driver in my life.

I had discovered that the company I chose needed to be true to my authentic self and make me eager to get up in the morning; it would need to be a place where I felt strong connections.

Help people — it feels awesome and spreads happiness

The next phase of my journey was less outwardly indulgent and more inwardly focused. It was time to deeply reflect on what I could offer the world. One key characteristic that was like a thread through every aspect of my life, both personal and professional: I very much love helping people in any way I can.

I believe that asking powerful questions, listening, and guiding others to find their own answers results in greater value than sharing knowledge alone.

By blending sincere curiosity, openness, and expertise, I’ve been able to build strong, authentic and mutually rewarding relationships that last, and I would require a company whose culture and product encompassed sincere service to others.

Be ecstatic about your future

This last value is very challenging to find and frankly, I’m lucky. Like many who wonder, “Is this it?” I still yearned for a challenge I would race towards, but I was struggling to find it. Like great art, you know a “masterpiece” when you see it but it eluded me.

Then one day, quite serendipitously, I found Aha! and everything about Aha! excited me:

  • Amazing product: Aha! is the answer to all of the frustrations I felt as a product manager.
  • Challenges and growth: Nothing provides room to grow and unlimited challenges to really push one’s limits like having the opportunity to be a part of a rapidly growing company.
  • Proven co-founders: Aha! was founded and is run by a veteran team of smart, confident with attitude software entrepreneurs with an impressive record of big success.

All of these crucial elements excited me, but what tipped it over to feeling ecstatic about my future was that I felt like I had found a home. Because the culture of Aha! is truly about being a powerful and positive change agent for software innovation worldwide, and at the same time, is a company that values individuals. It is a place I plan on being a part of for years to come.

When I found Aha! I knew I’d found my “masterpiece.”

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