My Name Is Winfred Nadeau — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Winfred Nadeau

How many 8-year-old kids read The Wall Street Journal? Well, I know of at least one. I discovered the paper at a local tea shop where I sometimes did homework. I liked sitting by the shop’s double-sided fireplace, reading about stocks and company news. So I convinced my mom to subscribe. Each morning I would walk to the end of our driveway, eager to pick up the latest issue. I even applied what I learned to my game of running a cafe — making food and serving customers (my family members) in our basement.

I have always sought to understand how people build companies that provide real value.

In high school I tried this firsthand when I started my own computer repair business. My dad was an IT systems administrator and taught me about PCs at an early age. I remember making a flier advertising my services and hustling to get it into my school’s mailers. I enjoyed diagnosing customers’ problems and finding a way to repair computer issues.

Programming itself bored me. But this changed in college once I discovered the connection between coding and business. I bought a book on the fundamentals of software engineering and quickly realized that I could make websites and other products. The concept of software as a business finally clicked in my head.

So I switched my business major to a computer science program at Georgia Tech and started experimenting with building my own products. Then fate came knocking. The founding CTO of a new public beta app called Hired came across a profile I had created on the app. He flew me to San Francisco and asked me to be the first hire and founding engineer. I strongly believe that if your dream comes to you, you do not tell it to wait. I did not need much convincing to leave school and join the team.

For the next six years, I had a blast helping build the company. Our goal was to streamline the recruiting process by using technology to match qualified job seekers with companies. I was there from the first successful job placement on the platform all the way up to Hired’s major growth, with hundreds of employees and tens of millions of dollars in annual recurring revenue.

My entrepreneurial mindset told me to try as many roles as possible so I could understand how everyone’s perspective contributed to the overall business.

For example, I served as an engineering manager, recruiting and onboarding new teammates and growing the team threefold. I also briefly explored product management and learned how to build the product from the ground up. Later, I was a marketing engineer and then a framework engineer. I developed a pub-sub framework for tracking and analyzing our two-sided marketplace at scale. I built an extensible visual design architecture with the design team as well as a CSS framework to back it up.

Hired grew tremendously in those six years and it felt like the right time for my next challenge. When I connected with a member of the Aha! People Success team, I knew there was something special. The software itself appealed to me as a business-minded engineer. Instead of having to go out of my way to find relevant business information, I could be two clicks away from it at all times. 

The interview process was remarkably fast and decisive. I spoke with several teammates in quick succession and was happy to learn that everyone at Aha! uses the software to do their work. I read Lovability and a ton of blog posts over a weekend and knew I had to join. I was ecstatic about the idea of being surrounded by product and business experts.

Since joining the engineering team, I have worked on various experiments and analytics instrumentation. The coolest feature I launched so far was percent of work completed. This feature, which lets users visualize progress on roadmaps and reports, had been requested by customers early and often. It felt great to make it a reality. I also spearheaded an initiative to get an end-to-end regression test suite into our build pipeline. I have since written a ton of regression specs to help catch bugs before they reach production.

I am grateful to play a role at Aha! in building a world-class product and company every day.

I get to learn from an ecosystem of the best product managers, marketing experts, developers, and engineers. It is a healthy work environment where everyone is helpful, supportive, and generously shares their knowledge.

I have certainly come a long way from pretending to run a cafe out of my family’s basement. But there is one thing that has remained constant throughout the years — my passion for business and entrepreneurship. I am happy to say that I still start most mornings reading The Journal. Only now I stick to the online version (no trip down the driveway required).

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