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Learnings from my Transition to CEO

Executive News & Opinions Learnings from Sasan's Transition to CEO

I’ve had the privilege of serving as the CEO of Intuit for over 19 months now. It has been a remarkable and unique time to say the least. I am thankful to have this opportunity to use my platform to make a positive impact on our employees, customers and our communities.

When I was preparing to take this job, I went on a listening tour to get advice from CEOs, athletes, venture capital partners and our employees. Their words of wisdom were incredibly helpful and I am grateful to everyone I spoke with for their time and generosity.

Now, with on the job experience, three pieces of advice I received before stepping into the role really stand out to me. I thought of them often as I navigated my first year and a half as CEO and I want to share them with all of you. My hope is that they might be helpful to anyone making a leadership transition.

  • No One Knows What You Know: Being the leader of an organization of any size is an exercise in information intake. If you are doing your job well, you are constantly listening to a wide range of voices. This can create an imbalance of information between yourself and those you are working with —  your team, your employees, the board and others. You can forget that not everyone sees the picture quite as you do. So always remember to solve for that imbalance and unpack your decisions, and know it’s ok to disagree.
  • Be Ready on Day One: You need to be ready to be the leader of your organization from the moment you start. That means facing up to and resolving any fears and concerns about the position….before your start. It’s important to be completely confident and clear in your decisions and how you present yourself. This doesn’t mean having your mind already made up about everything, because being curious and open to learning is vital to success. It just means that you need to be ready to be fully you from your first day in the role. Remember, that’s why they hired you. Have conviction, but be curious.
  • Don’t Be Anyone but You: One of the best pieces of advice I got was from Steve Young, the hall of fame NFL quarterback, who told me that my number one job was to be the best me that I could be. Many people feel pressure to carry on the legacy of the person that preceded them or to work with the same team that was there before. Don’t fall into that trap. You are there to provide the leadership, vision, and experience that only you can offer. And you will only succeed when you are the most authentic version of you that you can be, not the best imitation of someone else.

These three tips were some of the best advice given to me and have been incredibly helpful to me as I’ve grown into this role and started this chapter in my life. There is one more thing I would add to anyone aspiring to be a CEO, or a leader of any type — it takes hard work. That may sound simple. But the truth is many people want to lead organizations, until they find out how much work it takes. You can dream big and make great things happen, but you need to be willing to put in the work. So dream big, work hard — and I look forward to hearing about the great things you will achieve.