From scaling a department within PwC from the ground up to a team of 300+, to working at a VC firm and a mobile app startup, April has always enjoyed roles that nobody else had before. Having spent the last 5 years in Palo Alto, she is currently Director of Automation Solutions at Catalytic, a Chicago-based company that automates business processes, and talked to us about how she utilizes HanaHaus for her daily work.
Name: April January
Origin: Visalia, CA
Job Title: Director of Automation Solutions
How did you end up in Silicon Valley, working for a Chicago-based company?
“I always knew I wanted to work in startups - my entire family are all entrepreneurs - which is part of the reason I moved to Silicon Valley. When working at a big accounting firm, PwC, in San Francisco before, I was lucky enough to be part of a pilot program that was like a startup within the firm, building out an entire department from 0 to 300+ people within just 3 years. The first job I had in Silicon Valley was at a startup, working on a mobile app, it was a really fun and exciting project. After that, I went to a small VC firm right across the street from HanaHaus, another startup. Eventually, the engineer I was working with for the mobile app project called me and asked me to join the team at Catalytic.”
What exactly do you do at Catalytic?
“Catalytic automates business processes. We are a platform that is working on people-friendly automation. I am currently Director of Automation Solutions and was Director of Process before - we always have fun titles, right? Currently, I am working on a piece of our product which handles prioritization, management and reporting of automation projects. Believe it or not, many teams are still tracking their automation requests in Excel. We help to automate the process of incoming requests all the way through implementation, ensuring the projects selected are the highest ranked according to the specific automation strategy.”
Having worked both in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, would you say there are a lot of differences between the two?
“The City is great but I feel like Silicon Valley is the center of the storm - this is where everything is happening. There’s little pockets within San Francisco, but here in Palo Alto, you can look around any restaurant and 90% of the people are going to be investors or founders or working in a startup. This is the pinnacle of where everything is happening.”
How did you hear about HanaHaus?
“I feel like I was watching HanaHaus being built. It opened while I was right across the street, working at Unshackled Ventures. When HanaHaus opened up, it was instantly our number one go-to, because we didn’t have much conference room space. People would come here, have coffee, be in meetings, hang out.”
What does your typical day look like?
“In the morning, I get up and get straight to my computer, because the team is on Chicago time, so it’s nice to start early. I spend the morning at home, go for a quick run, come to HanaHaus and spend the afternoon here. I come here most afternoons to just kind of get out of the house. I have three kids at home, so in the afternoons it gets a little wild. It’s great to come here and be around other people and all the busyness. I try to have at least one person to hang out with each day for coffee or lunch to keep my need for social interaction fulfilled. That’s why I also like HanaHaus - it’s right in the middle of everything. I have a lot of friends who work in downtown Palo Alto, so it’s easy to make all that happen. To see what other people are doing and to get ideas - you lose that when your company is in another state. So being able to talk to other people and seeing what they’re up to is very beneficial for me to spark new ideas for my own work.”
What else do you like about HanaHaus, why is it a good workspace for you?
“For me, it’s the flexibility of making a reservation by the hour. I can be flexible with my schedule as you should be in a startup. I can spend the afternoons or mornings at home and I don’t feel bad. And then being downtown, I like the interaction, I like to be around people, that’s what gives me energy. So being here, accessible to people I know, is great. Being in a lively place, I could go outside - the courtyard is great. I love being outside in the sun. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. And the coffee - I was addicted to the Almond Lattes and now it’s the Oat Milk Lattes. That’s a serious factor, you can’t have bad coffee.”
My favorite place at HanaHaus is…
“…the stage, this is kind of my cosy place. You have plenty of room and it’s a little quieter, but you’re still able to see all the action. I like the tall tables as well, although I am not a tall chair sitter. But I do like the idea of standing up from time to time.”
HanaHaus in three words is…
“…alive, pretty and light.”
In our blog series, People of HanaHaus, we present the folks that fill our workspace cafe with life: Start-Uppers, entrepreneurs, artists, founders, innovation managers, students, unicorns, venture capital investors and the people who make HanaHaus unique. We want to learn about their journeys and what brought them to Silicon Valley. We ask them to speak about their current projects and why how they leverage HanaHaus for their business.