West Virginia Chamber Fireside Chat with Brad D. Smith

On September 9, 2020, Brad D. Smith sat down for a Q&A session with writer and fellow Marshall University alumnus, Jack Houvouras, for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Virtual Business Summit Series. Brad spoke about his personal and professional reasons for transitioning from Intuit’s CEO, including his desire to seek out his next exciting life challenge along with his wife, Alys.

Brad emphasized that, while he is retired as Intuit’s CEO, he and Alys never planned on slowing down their work together. Quoting Mark Twain, Brad shared his belief that the two most important days in life are the day you’re born, and the day you discover your most fulfilling purpose. To transition from being an Intuit executive to discovering his new purpose, Brad interviewed fellow executives who have stayed professionally active in their 70s and 80s. He asked about their choices in their 40s and 50s that helped support high productivity late in life. 

After considering their advice, Brad realized his reinvigorated purpose was to be a devoted voice for the overlooked, the underserved, and communities who have lost hope. Brad considers his role in creating lasting economic change to be threefold: through his position as Intuit’s executive chairman, his influence as a professional coach for 15 CEOs with similar values, and through the support he and Alys provide to entrepreneurs via their Wing 2 Wing Foundation.

The Summit Q&A covered a variety of topics related to business development and educational opportunities in West Virginia, including Brad’s perspective on what he considers the state’s most significant challenge. “The answer for me is pretty clear,” Brad said, “We need ubiquitous, high-speed internet connectivity to every home…with no one left behind. If our state plans to…compete in the 21st Century, [COVID-19] just exposed the realities if we don’t have that asset. We can’t create the next generation of entrepreneurs [without it].”

For a snapshot of the interview’s topics, read the following timestamp guide:

03:12 – Brad D. Smith introduction

07:45 – Can you tell us what you’ve been up to recently and how a quote from Mark Twain motivates you?

10:15 – How much progress has been made to extend broadband to every corner of the state?

13:25 – Can you speak to the costs involved in order to extend broadband access? 

14:25 – What are experts predicting will happen going forward in terms of employees working remotely?

16:17 – What do you mean when you say people need to be ready for the jobs of the 21st century?

21:08 – What school systems are doing a good job preparing U.S. students for the 21st century workforce?

29:58 -What advice can you give company owners and business managers to keep employees productive during the pandemic?

35:44 – Could Elon Musk’s planned internet satellites solve the broadband problem in WV?

40:52 – As a young person, how do we keep talented and intelligent young adults in WV?