Brad D. Smith + Executive Leadership
Brad D. Smith’s noteworthy career as a business leader has spanned a multitude of high-profile companies, including Pepsi Bottling Group, Advo Inc., ADP and Intuit, Inc. Through the years he has sat on the board of several notable organizations including Yahoo, Nordstrom and Momentive (formerly known as Survey Monkey). Brad believes his experience as a business leader was a journey that was always bound to lead him home to pursue the philanthropic work he is currently dedicated to.
Much of Brad’s history as an executive leader is defined by his time spent at Intuit, Inc. Brad first started at Intuit as 2003 and, proving his talents from the onset, was swiftly elevated to the position of senior vice president and general manager of Intuit’s Small Business Division, which presides over household finance product names such as QuickBooks and Mint.
Like Brad, Intuit came from humble beginnings, starting at founder Scott Cook’s kitchen table. As the company began growing in the financial software space, big competitors like Microsoft took notice and thus a battle for dominance began. In the end, Intuit prevailed, thanks to its signature innovative approach that put customers front and center under Brad’s general management.
By the time Brad took his seat as CEO, he knew that he needed to guide the company into the future. The tech world was rapidly moving forward, with social media, mobile technologies and global markets revolutionizing the marketplace. The challenge was not only how to adapt to these changes, but how to do so in a way that maintained the company’s core values of rapid innovation and experimentation (while finding a way to make filing taxes on your phone as fun as such an act can be).
So, Brad relied on his team and challenged everyone to innovate by his side. As he pulled from the expertise and willingness of Intuit’s thousands of employees, the company deftly transformed into the global financial platform company it’s known as today, offering products like TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint and Turbo. Carefully designed to empower consumers, the self-employed and small businesses improve their financial lives, the Intuit platform under Brad ensured that customers would get more value from the product with the least amount of effort.
Brad’s leadership and vision paid off. As customers began devoting their trust to Intuit’s decision-making, the company’s customer base grew to nearly 50 million worldwide, solidifying the transition to a global service provider as one of Brad’s greatest accomplishments with the company. Brad’s efforts raised Intuit’s stock by a staggering 588%, bringing them to record high figures while raising the company’s market cap to almost $60 billion.
“We’ve remained committed to ‘falling in love with the problem, not the solution’ so that we can free up and reinvest resources in game-changing opportunities.”
The Best Place to Work
Under Brad’s leadership, you’d be hard-pressed to find an employee who didn’t take pride in and love their work.
“It’s hard to describe how much I love Brad, or the impact he has had on my life and leadership,” said Cassie Divine, senior vice president, QuickBooks Online. “But it’s easy to rattle off dozens of leadership lessons that stay with me…That is part of Brad’s magic, he lives and breathes all of these things at once.”
According to Brad, when the world’s top talent feels inspired to bring their whole selves to work, their pride and passion translate into greater customer impact. With a mission-driven, values based company culture, Intuit was consistently recognized as one of the world’s best and most innovative places to work under Brad’s leadership.
During his tenure, Intuit received numerous accolades for its company culture, including:
- #2 in Best Workplaces in Technology
- #7 in PEOPLE Companies that Care™
- #9 in Best Workplace for Women
In 2018, Brad announced that he would be stepping down from his role as Intuit’s CEO, a decision that surprised some of the business world.
“I never wanted to be that athlete who loses half a step or can’t complete the pass,” he said of the decision in an interview with Fortune. “I wanted to step down when I was still in my learning zone and still had gas in the tank.”
Identifying a readiness within himself, the company and Intuit’s next, and now current CEO Sasan Goodarzi, Brad D. Smith felt a permissive alignment that made the choice clear.
“Sasan is an amazing leader and the right person to steer this exceptional company into the future,” Brad told employees on the day of his announced departure.
Despite stepping down from his post as CEO, Brad stayed with Intuit as the executive chairman of the board. He served in this role up until taking on his newest venture in 2022: President of Marshall University. Brad continues to serve as an Intuit board member.
Outside of Intuit, Brad also put his leadership acumen to use as the chairman of Nordstrom’s Board of Directors from 2018 to 2022 and a sitting member of the Board of Directors of Momentive (formerly Survey Monkey) from 2017 to 2022.
Venturing Into Philanthropy and Academia
Stepping away from the business world entirely, Brad can now be found operating in the realms of philanthropy and academia, shifting his focus to philanthropic pursuits in and around his home state of West Virginia, as well as other small, underserved communities.
In partnership with his wife, Alys, an Ohio native, Brad established the Wing 2 Wing Foundation. The goal of the organization is to provide small communities with entrepreneurial resources and funding that provide a foundation for aspiring business leaders. According to Smith, 75% of capital investments are funneled to start-ups in New York, California and Massachusetts. The Wing 2 Wing Foundation is aiming to change that, starting with a gift to the home that built him.
In 2018, Brad and Alys followed an earlier donation of $10 million made in 2015 with an additional $25 million to his alma mater, Marshall University, which later named both the undergraduate and graduate schools of business after him. The transformative donation was followed by the creation of the Brad D. Smith Business Incubator. Located in downtown Huntington, West Virginia, the physical space is dedicated to hopeful business owners who seek mentorship and guidance through the turbulent waters a young business must face in order to achieve success.
Though he has left the business world, Brad still, undoubtedly, remains a leader. Brad now exercises his leadership capabilities as Marshall University’s president, a role he believes he’s been preparing for his entire life. Before officially taking the helm in 2022, Brad communicated during his acceptance speech in October 2021 that his goal was to leverage the university as a great equalizer in the state, providing opportunity for those who are more accustomed to being met with obstacles.
Through all of this, Brad has relied on a guiding mantra taught to him by his father: “Follow that which makes your heart beat the fastest.”