Brad D. Smith + Intuit
Brad D. Smith is as much a part of Intuit as anyone can be after 17 years of service to a company they love (and that loves them back).
While most know him as the caring and highly successful CEO of the company, he began his tenure with Intuit in an executive position in 2003. Proving his talents from the onset, Smith 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.
Of the many similarities these product offerings share, their growth from a shared mission of powering prosperity around the world is what makes them so successful.
Intuit hasn’t always led in the cloud space, though. In fact, the company started from humble beginnings 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. The general manager leading the charge at the time was none other than Smith himself.
By the time Smith 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, Smith relied on his team, making sure that they didn’t mistake kindness for weakness. Smith challenged his teams to innovate by his side, pulling long hours, sharing setbacks and brainstorm sessions. 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, as it continues to offer 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 Smith ensured that customers would get more value from the product, with the least amount of effort.
Smith’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 Smith’s greatest accomplishments with the company. And, as anyone in the personal finance world will say, the numbers don’t lie. Smith’s efforts rose Intuit’s stock by a staggering 588%, bringing them to record high figures while raising the company’s market cap to almost $60 billion.
Numbers like these would make a different kind of leader adopt a tunnel vision that leaves employees in their blindspot, but never is that the case at any Intuit office you visit.
“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 Smith’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 Smith, 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 that influences the day-to-day in every office, Intuit has been consistently recognized as one of the world’s best and most innovative places to work, and continues to leave applicants vying for a position among the happiest employees in the business.
Intuit has 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
Intuit has also been listed on Fortune’s List of Most Admired Software Companies for 14 consecutive years.
In 2018, Smith announced that he would be stepping down from his role as Intuit’s CEO, a decision that surprised some of the business world.
Why would a young, successful leader of a thriving company leave his post?
“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,” Smith told employees on the day of his announced departure.
Along with Intuit’s measurable success stories, the milestones for Smith are felt, not calculated.
“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,” he said. “Along the way, we’ve built a strong, enduring muscle for developing the next generation of Intuit leaders.”
With Intuit’s next crop of leaders in capable hands, it was time for Smith to seek out his next pool of talent so that he could put his humble leadership to work.
Smith continues to serve as Executive Chairman to the Board at Intuit, and also serves chairman of Nordstrom’s Board of Directors and is a sitting member of the Board of Directors of SurveyMonkey.
His real focus, though, has shifted 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, Smith has 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 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.
Through all of this, Smith’s relies on a guiding mantra taught to him by his father: “Follow that which makes your heart beat the fastest.”
Contemplating his next steps and on the career pathways that have led him to the creation of his foundation, it is clear that his latest pursuits will achieve in the collective inspiration and success of all who participate — just like at Intuit.