Lara Hood Balazs, CMO of Intuit, has worked for several of the world’s top companies: Amazon, Visa, Nike, Gap Inc., General Mills and now, Intuit. What does this serial B2C marketing leader take with her in every role? Scrappiness. Something she learned when she first graduated with honors and couldn’t find a job. Instead of being dismayed, Lara designed her own job where she pushed herself to try new things on a daily basis in order to build out her skills. From that point forward, Lara has always stayed on top of her game by never settling for the status quo and by learning from the experiences she creates in every role that allows her to push the boundaries.
“You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you do not have grit and resilience and tenacity, you're not going to get very far. As you move up the ladder, if you haven't had hard times yourself where you failed, then you're not going to be empathetic to the teams that work with and for you. You're not going to understand what it's like to be in the day-to-day.”
Having lived for the vast majority of her career in Silicon Valley, Lara has continuously challenged herself to stay ahead of technology, despite 7000+ marketing technology solutions out there. She spends a lot of time with her CTO, “joined at the hip”, to wade through it all and determine what is “fixed or flexible” to deliver the ultimate customer experience. At Intuit, she has the incremental challenge of expanding the Intuit parent brand in addition to her portfolio brands; QuickBooks, TurboTax and Mint.
“Over 50% of businesses that are small businesses fail in the first five years, 55% of Americans don't feel competent in managing their finances, and over 60% of Americans cannot come up with $1,000 in an emergency. When you hear those stats you realize there are ways that technology can help.”
Join us as we dive deep into how Lara is thinking about technology at Intuit, where AI and ML become part of the equation, how she creates diverse teams and ensures that everyone has a full voice at the table to drive growth for Intuit, and how she’s stayed scrappy throughout her career to rise to the top, consistently. In the meantime, below are a few of her tips for your back pocket.
Tips for Your Back Pocket
- Know What’s Fixed and What’s Flexible. "Yes, [technology] is a challenge. We have more choices than ever as marketers, so the key is thinking of the must-have things I need from a foundational standpoint. And then, what are the tools do I need to put on top of that? If you can think of what is fixed and what is flexible, that allows you to then understand the tools that best meet your needs. But they're changing every day, so you've got to be constantly learning and then constantly making the decision at that time for what's best for the company."
- Develop Your Teams’ Skills. "One of the exciting things about my particular position is we have a learning and development program within my team that is all about teaching the latest and the greatest of all marketing and communications acumen. Modules on learning everything from how to do the best SEO and SEM, to going to market from a brand perspective, how to use martech tools and how to work with your technology partners to do that. Additionally, I am tied at the hip with our chief information officer and as we build out and fine tune our Martech stack. That partnership is key."
- Diversity Breed Success. "As you know, diversity and inclusion are very important topics to me and that is because I truly believe that diverse teams breed innovation and innovation breeds greater outcomes. Diversity of thinking that comes from different types of people from different backgrounds is what breeds success. We have a diverse mix at the top and we are having conversations on how do we ensure that we have that diversity and inclusion all throughout the company. I will tell you, from working many places, the authenticity to which people bring their whole selves to work is phenomenal here at Intuit."
- Be Customer-obsessed. "Often people ask what are the latest skills and what acumen do I need to become a marketer and a communicator today. I always say, you've got to know your customer inside and out and have customer empathy. Having worked at Amazon, I can tell you customer obsession is key to everything Amazon does and is very much why they are so successful. At Intuit, same thing and that customer empathy is what fuels ‘design for delight’, which is how we design our products, solving for the customer needs and problems from day one when you go to design something."
- Be Resilient... and Scrappy. "There were many moments in my career where things didn't go as I planned and there wasn't any amount of smarts that would've gotten me to the next step. It was, ‘I'm going to be tenacious and I'm going to be resilient and I'm going to get through this and be scrappy and figure out how to get experienced when I don't have any.’ If you think you love something and you want to go after it, even if you don't have every skill under your belt or every class under your belt, do it and get creative about it."