Brad D. Smith Talks About Leadership Lessons and His Path to Silicon Valley

On January 28, 2021, Brad D. Smith virtually joined Rebecca Fannin to discuss lessons he has learned as Intuit’s former CEO and now executive chairman

In the session, Brad breaks down his five principles of leadership, as well as how his humble beginnings in West Virginia made him who he is today. The show featured questions from Fannin, as well as real-time questions from the virtual audience.

Brad started the conversation off by offering up his definition of leadership, which he described as the ability to inspire others to achieve shared objectives. Brad walked Fannin and her guests through his five Ps of leadership – Potential, Purpose, People, Playbook, and Pay-It-Forward and how they attributed to his current success.

After discussing leadership, Brad spoke on the importance of his home state, West Virginia, in making him the man and leader he is today. This attitude, and his Pay-It-Forward leadership principle, are what led Brad and his wife, Alys, to start the Wing 2 Wing Foundation, which focuses its efforts in the Appalachia Region where many communities, educational institutions and individuals have been disproportionately impacted by economic and technological change, and provides the tools and resources for education and entrepreneurship the community needs. 

A highlight of the interview is when Brad shares his insight on vocational education: “We have to infuse back into our culture this real respect and this willingness to invest in vo-tech,” said Brad. “Instead of auto mechanic class that used to tune a carburetor, focus on how to do that with these new engines, including the electric cars, and think about robotics and automation, and really infuse those kinds of skills back into our education system.” 

Brad is an advocate for incorporating vo-tech education into the curriculum for students in West Virginia. Through simulated workplaces across West Virginia, 24,000 students have had the opportunity to learn by doing. The program also has other states visiting West Virginia to try to bring this simulated workspace method back to their school districts. 

Brad ended his talk by stressing the importance of focusing on the future and investing in tomorrow’s workforce,  inspiring teams to become the future of their industries.