When I put them side by side, Pepsi was going to put me in a very big stretch situation
managing six teamsters in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’d never lived outside the state.
I took the job and the rest is history.
Q: Can you expand on your career trajectory? How do you get from Pepsi to Intuit?
A: I spent five years with Pepsi moving through the company in different levels from
managing the drivers who deliver the soft drinks to calling on key accounts and
selling advertising. And I got a master's at night at Aquinas College in Michigan.
Then I had an inbound call from 7UP saying, ‘We'll give you a chance to be a general
manager.’ I was 27 years old. At Pepsi that wouldn't have happened before I was
35. And so I violated my dad's principle of taking a job just for more money, and
it wasn’t a great fit.
I only stayed there a couple of years. I followed a Pepsi mentor who had since left
the soft drink industry and had gone into direct mail marketing with a company
called Advo in Connecticut. He recruited me out of the soft drink industry and
said, ‘Come with me and let’s learn about this new thing called big data.’ Back
then, instead of targeting on the Internet, which was not yet commercially viable,
you targeted through the mail system. But you used algorithms to figure out who
Diet Coke drinkers were and you’d send them Diet Pepsi coupons. I was in love with
the power of data and technology.
Q: So that’s how you got to tech and big data?
A: Yes, I was recruited by ADP, the global human resource and payroll provider to
lead their marketing efforts in their small business division. Soon, I was asked
to lead a team that ultimately launched the first Internet payroll service, and
that experience led me to the role of Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business
Development. After six years with ADP, I was recruited by Intuit, where I started
in Texas calling on the accountants, CPAs. From that role, I was asked to go to
TurboTax as the general manager for the business in San Diego.
After a short stint, I was asked to lead the QuickBooks small business division in
Mountain View, California. I moved through those three roles in five years. In
August 2007, I was tapped to become the company’s CEO, which was a complete surprise
Q: What’s your go-to advice for students?
A: Volunteer for the job that nobody else wants. Every company has something that
they really need somebody to take on and tackle. Most people want to work on all
the new stuff, the shiny stuff. If you volunteer for the job nobody else wants,
it's usually under-resourced and has a lot of risk of failure. But that’s where
you learn the most.
Q: What are sources of inspiration for you?
A: I am absolutely a student of life. I love to read. I read a book a week. I love
to talk to students and the next generation because I'm able to learn so much
from the questions they ask and the way they're processing things.