From brewing beer and being a barista to being passionate about cooking and baking, nothing surprises us when it comes to our self-professed, “Selfie Queen,” Yohana.
Originally from Venezuela, Yohana joined Workhuman® as a customer service executive in 2018 and has since moved on to product management. We caught up with Yohana recently to learn more about her career journey so far.
Every single job role I have had in my life so far has been an amazing opportunity,
both from a learning perspective and a developmental perspective. And I’ve done a lot of different things.
My professional background has varied from nursing assistant, tax administrator, civil engineering technologist, kitchen porter, coffee shop duty manager, customer service executive, IT engineer and I am now associate product manager! This most recent transition happened during the pandemic when I was looking for a change and to get out of my comfort zone.
I originally found it difficult to get into an IT role after graduation. I was doing freelance web developer work, studying courses and learning about automation environment training, especially on Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
However, I still found it difficult to find a job as I had no experience in the field. I was searching for an IT role constantly! I was living in a shared house, and one day I found a book left in the middle of the kitchen called, “The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work” By Derek Irvine and Eric Mosley. And it turned out Eric Mosely happened to be the CEO of a little company called Globoforce at the time, now Workhuman.
The book inspired me! So, I started searching for this “little company” and they had many different open roles! My house mate who brought the book to the house kindly offered me if I wanted to be referred by him internally and advised me to check the career website. So, I applied and passed all rounds of interviews. I was offered the role of customer service executive for English and Spanish speaking clients due to my previous experience in customer service!
Starting in a customer Service role gave me the opportunity to get to know Workhuman’s products from the end-user perspective. After three months, I took over a new position as reporting coordinator, where I was able to better understand our customers’ data, and I also learned how to use a new tool for data graphic representation. I am so grateful to Nicole Scallan for this opportunity. She first interviewed me for the role of customer service executive and was very open minded when it came to my IT skills. She wanted me to gain more experience in this area so when the role of reporting coordinator became available she offered me the position! Part of my role was monitoring our product through our reports and data tools, and my responsibility was to make sure we provided accurate information to our clients about their results.
Since I joined Workhuman, there have been so many people around me that have supported and encouraged me. One of whom is Michelle McDaid, who has encouraged me to participate in so many of the company initiatives and events, such as the company hackathon as well as the many fundraising and charity events such as the “Staff Relay Series” where I ran my first 5km. I met Michelle at my first Christmas party in the bathroom where she complimented my dress. We started talking and shared how we both had just joined Workhuman. We talked about my IT experience and how I hoped to progress into a technology career here. She recommended several people to me to talk to and learn more. Following this, Michelle regularly checked in with me to see how I was doing with my career progression. These events were a fantastic way to build my network internally and connect with colleagues with similar interests.
As a result of this advice to participate in these events and collaborate with other teams, I applied for an internal position in technology that caught my eye! I was so happy as this was my opportunity to demonstrate the technical skills, I have developed at Workhuman and in my career previously.
So, how did I transition from customer service to our product team, you ask? Well, I started by looking at my network and reaching out to people internally. I interviewed product managers on other teams, talked to the right people who gave me a lot of valuable information, guidance and mentoring through the process. One of whom was Martina Campbell, I spoke with her a lot about a role in product management. She gave me great insight into what to expect in the role as well as recommending a number of online training courses and more formal qualifications. I was attending meetups virtually and in person with the intention of learning more from tenured employees which gave me energy and a better understanding about what this role entails.
Based on my previous hackathon participation, the feeling of building a product was stored in the back of my head. This hackathon was a chance for employees to submit their ideas that can improve our products in order to surprise and delight our customers.
I also started a self-evaluation and recognized that I could be good for this position, and I wanted to try it. I completed a Certified Scrum Product Owner CSPO certification for further value. (This was one of the courses my colleague Martina Campbell recommended!) Similarities from my previous work experience and other transferable skills such as problem solving, adaptability, attention to detail and teamwork were particularly important to help me break into product management.
Finally, my personal advice is to enjoy what you do even if you are not fully prepared (academically speaking) at first for the role; be curious and open to learn new things (always keep a student mindset), as there is always room for personal growth.
Jiddu Krishnamurti once said: “There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
I am so grateful to work with Workhuman and my fellow team members. I feel like I have changed as a person since joining and for the better! I am now a much more positive person full of energy. I don’t see the negatives; I only see the opportunities.
I am now looking forward to continuing to develop further and learning more from my experiences, as well as eventually progress from Associate Product Manager to Product Manager to whatever may come next... there are no limits!