By Peter High. Published on Forbes.
Next month, Sasan Goodarzi will become the Chief Executive Officer of Intuit. He once made his ambition to rise to the CEO role clear to his superiors, and as they cottoned to the idea and more officially put in him the succession path for CEO, he was exposed to each business unit of the company. He notes in my interview with him that, though it was important for him to make his hopes clear, he also gained even more mightily when he focused on more on enjoying the jobs he took on for the opportunity and learning that each offered.
His three most recent roles have been Executive Vice President of Small Business, Executive Vice President and General Manager of TurboTax, and Chief Information Officer. Interestingly, he counts the CIO role as his most exciting. The reasons include the expansive view of the business that the CIO role offers, but also ability to influence the next generation of technology change that will position the company for growth.
Among the special attributes that Goodarzi holds dear, and will remain areas of emphasis in his administration will be the company’s culture and its focus on customers. He believes strongly that a fulfilling work environment yields better results for customers.
In this interview, we cover his preparations for the CEO role, how he sees the company growing in his tenure, the role that artificial intelligence will play, and a variety of other topics.
(To listen to an unabridged podcast version of this interview, please visit this link. This is the 40th article in the “Beyond CIO” series. To read through past interviews with executives from companies like Waste Management, Biogen, Allstate, Aetna, Marsh & McLennan, and BMO Financial Group, please visit this link. To read future articles in the series, please follow me on Twitter @PeterAHigh.)
Peter High: In early 2019, you will ascend to the Chief Executive Officer role of Intuit. Congratulations. Can you talk about the point at which you found out about this news?
Sasan Goodarzi: I found out about the news several days before it went public. Intuit is an incredible company, and to have the opportunity to move into [outgoing CEO] Brad Smith’s role is truly an honor. Over the past eleven years, Brad has done a remarkable job of positioning the company for an incredible next chapter, so he deserves a great deal of credit for his leadership. Building leadership capabilities and mobility are core competencies for Intuit. Although this announcement is a visible one, we are extremely deliberate about ensuring that we have successors for key roles across the company. In his eighth year, Brad notified the board that he would be stepping down at some point in the future. The board and Brad agreed to the rigorous process of hiring an outside firm to look at external leaders, assess leaders within the company, and determine what the company needed in its next chapter. While that was taking place, Brad chose to do what we do across the company. Several leaders, including myself, switched businesses a few years ago. I have had the privilege of being in all of the company’s businesses, including the CIO role. The point of this switch was to ensure that we had strong internal candidates who could take over when Brad was ready to step down.