“Be curious, ask more questions and passionately pursue your dreams.”
This month at Code2College, we’re highlighting Black Excellence by interviewing one of our volunteers each week to learn more about their challenges, triumphs and what makes them amazing. For our final interview this month, our Executive Director Matt Stephenson spoke with Hass Johnson, Regional Sales Manager for Corporate Accounts, LogicMonitor and a veteran Code2College Mentor.
M: Hey Hass, thanks again for making the time today. So, tell us a little bit about your background and where you’re from.
H: I moved to Austin twelve years ago and attended the University of Texas at Austin, earning an MBA at McCombs in Entrepreneurship and International Management. (Hook ‘em!) Prior to that I was in Detroit at Ford Motor Companies for almost 5 years doing software development, data center management and transmission production lines. Today, I’m a Regional Sales Manager with LogicMonitor. The business impact of my role is that I’m able to drive revenue for the firm, bring in new customers and help the company gain value and remain sustainable.
M: What I find particularly fascinating about that is that you actually started in development and then moved to Technical Sales. Is that fairly common in the industry.
H: Great question and it’s not. My software development background has made me even more effective in my role, but my MBA from UT McCombs was what helped me make that transition. Hook ‘em!
M: That’s great insight. Can you remember your first introduction to Tech/STEM?
H: Yes, I actually had an informal mentor in high school who was a Quality Analyst. She was my inspiration to break into the Tech world.
M: So it sounds like she had a significant impact on you?
H: Absolutely. She always talked about the work that she did and through that I gained interest in that field. I joke that I am not sure why I listened to her because I was much more creative than being interested in technology. Whatever it was about her mentorship, it made me more curious about Technology. In college, I fell into software development and computer software and loved the challenge.
M: Speaking of challenges and inspiration, where do you draw your inspiration from?
H: You sent this ahead of time and I still got stumped by this question. I was at a four-year-old’s party and we were talking about creative inspiration and I was talking about tapping back into my creative side. I almost have to separate the business inspiration from the creative inspiration. I love tough problems. I’m trying to rediscover where my creative inspiration comes from.
M: And how about your business inspiration then?
H: From a business side I’m inspired by complex problems where the solutions will have a big impact. It’s something that’s driven me my entire career and in each role I’ve occupied.
M: Since you love tough problems, what one challenge has defined your career?
H: At BigCommerce, the challenge of trying to accelerate the service by acquisition of customers from other platforms was a tough one. It was a unique moment in the company’s history. We had grown in customer size and sales leadership in the company was moving towards a strategy of acquiring customers from other platforms. That was new because most other companies built business from their own platforms not through aggressive customer acquisition. We started out small, and long story short, that business became the basis for what BigCommerce is today. It’s now a mid-market enterprise platform and went from working with smaller mom and pop shops to Overstock.com and other big brands.
M: You’ve got a really remarkable background, tough role and a family. Why are you dedicating time to mentor through Code2College?
H: Technology was pivotal for me. I don’t come from a privileged background so getting into college, graduating and then going into the workforce was life-changing for me, particularly because I was in Technology. I’ve always had a passion to give back to young people and was specifically trying to figure out where I could invest my time when I first reached out to volunteer with Code2College. I was trying to figure out where I could invest that especially with people who looked like me. I wanted to help diversify our industry and literally saw you all over social media and your work spoke to me. It was kismet. I’m happy you’ve created a sustainable organization where you can do this and I as a volunteer can feel impactful in an awesome way.
M: That is great to hear! It is important to us to have mentors that our students can relate to and see themselves in. Is there any parting advice you would give to our students?
H: Be curious, ask more questions and passionately pursue your dreams. You don’t typically see a developer who’s now in tech sales. It’s not unheard of, just doesn’t happen often. For me it was about pursuing my dreams and it didn’t matter how things were supposed to look but rather doing what was important for me.
M: Thanks so much –
H: There’s one other thing that I’d like to add. Happiness is very important to me and defining it should be important to everyone. My three priorities are to be a great father, be a great husband and be a great intrapreneur. Those priorities make me happy and I know that if something is off-kilter for me, I’m probably not doing one of those things right.
M: That’s fantastic, Hass. I think that’s a great point that we all have to define happiness for ourselves. Looking forward to seeing you at our next workshop!
H: Can’t wait!
Hass Johnson has served as a Regional Sales Manager at Logic Monitor in Austin, TX for the past year. He hails from Dallas, TX and holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Information Systems from Clark Atlanta in Atlanta, GA and a Masters of Business Administration from the McCombs School of Business at UT Austin. We’re proud to call him a Code2College Mentor.