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Meet Jimena Almendares. VP and Segment Leader for Payments at Intuit. Throughout her career she has spent time in different countries, roles, and companies, but has found her home helping customers manage all of their payment processes through Intuit products. Hear more about how her background (including time spent as a national champion figure skater for Mexico!) has led her to bringing a unique perspective to problem solving at Intuit.
Intuit: What was your early career like, pre-Intuit?
Jimena: My career has had many different chapters. After finishing up my masters degree in France, I started working at a German supply chain company doing analytics and ended up working in 5 different countries (over 9 cities), changing cities and jobs every month. After, I began doing strategy consulting, specializing in tech. I pursued my MBA at MIT which led me to working in marketing and product management at companies like Eventbrite, Facebook, Zynga, Meetup, and OkCupid.
Intuit: Tell us about your role at Intuit – daily tasks, how long you’ve been with the company?
Jimena: I usually come into the office never knowing what different challenges and unique opportunities are going to happen. In my current role, I oversee our Payments business within QuickBooks, GoPayment (card swipe app), Gmail invoicing, etc. and the Money Movement teams that are in charge of moving money for our Payments, Payroll and Capital (lending) businesses.
We’re a very large org of around 400 people, so there is never one day that looks like the other and that is where the excitement lives. Most of the time, we’re balancing short term projects we are working on with where we are heading in terms of long term strategy for the future.
My daily schedule often involves lots of back-to-back meetings, so I focus on how can we speed up the decision-making process to keep things moving forward and deliver awesomeness to our customers. I spend a lot of time on the fly making sure the right people are involved to solve problems at hand.
Intuit: What drew you to Intuit and what makes you excited about coming back?
Jimena: I was drawn to the sense of opportunity. We are a company with great capabilities, and we are working to make ourselves more approachable. You don’t need to be an accountant to understand finances. Payments are incredibly complicated, but you don’t need to understand the complexities to get paid.
That’s where Intuit comes in. We’re always asking ourselves: How do you simplify all this potential to make it applicable and easy to use/understand?
Throughout my background and my upbringing, I’ve learned a lot about universal pains within the small business/self-employed community. My parents in Mexico have a small business, so I grew up watching them have similar problems that we work to solve. And though some themes exist everywhere, local issues – laws, taxes, social customs – are unique, which means that we can have a wide impact but have to understand a lot of different situations. I’ve lived in so many countries that I have a unique understanding to the cultural and legal nuances.
At Intuit, I’m working with some of the best professionals I have ever worked with. I have amazing peers that have been in the company for longer than me, and I get the opportunity to learn from them.
Also, the business is evolving quickly and that creates growth opportunities. I see that members of my team have developed so much as professionals in less than a year, many have new responsibilities, larger teams and most have wider scopes, which leads to a culture of growth that forces us to constantly re-evaluate how to improve and be more efficient.
To me, my role is not just about the product and the intellectual challenge, but more so the journey that you share with your teams and peers that makes it very compelling.
Work is no longer work, it is a continuation of my life – both in what I share with my colleagues, and the sense of growth that isn’t something I can accomplish on my own, but is something that happens when smart people get together.
Intuit: As you know, the word prosperity is a big part of Intuit’s mission and culture. What does prosperity mean to you on a personal or professional level?
Jimena: A lot of people would think about prosperity as a term that is related to money. But I always wonder: is it just about amassing more wealth?
I think about things differently. When we interview customers around the world about payments (which is all about the money they make), it isn’t about the money itself, it’s about confidence. No matter how big a company is or how established someone is, they are afraid of being burned and not getting paid. We are trying to give them that reliability. We want to get people to a place where getting paid is natural. We want to give people confidence because they know we have their back.
Therefore, prosperity is not an end number, it is the emotional journey you need to go through (including the worry about paying your employees, or paying your rent). So really, prosperity is never having to worry.
Intuit: What have been your experiences working on or with different teams at Intuit and how your colleagues work to promote diversity every day?
Jimena: The most important asset that Intuit has is its collaborative culture. Since I arrived at Intuit, one of my most important missions has been figuring out how to bring different teams to work together. When cross functional teams are pulled into decision making, we have much more interesting discussions. We have been purposeful in creating a culture that brings together different perspectives and functions. In management meetings, we encourage participation of different teams across different levels of the organization. We have even designed our seating arrangement around business priorities and cross-functional collaboration to enhance team building, diversity of thought and perspectives.
In addition to my daily role, I am also the executive sponsor for the Latinos Connect @ Intuit (LCI) community at Intuit. Our objective is to be as open as we can be, by saying as an individual, you can amplify your voice in a group and allow other people to see the world through your eyes. We’ve been able to bring latino perspectives into the work we do with our follow-me-home programs, where Intuit employees shadow customers in their everyday lives to better understand the challenges they go through. This has opened up a better understanding of our customers, and also helped create a team to brainstorm how QuickBooks can better engage the Latino community.
Intuit: Describe the day you knew Intuit felt like home.
Jimena: Joining a new company is a big deal. For many of us, it may be a new location. Last year, I was living in Manhattan. Now, I’m here in California. That being said, I made the choice to join Intuit because of the people – and that was reinforced day one. I didn’t feel homeless. I felt welcomed and like I belonged.
A big part of my job centers around the interactions I have with people. What I knew coming in was that I liked the culture here at Intuit. What I didn’t know, was how deeply I would feel about my colleagues. They are not just professional relationships, they are relationships of deep trust. So every day, in every meeting, I leave with a bigger smile than I came in, and that’s how I know this is the right place for me. It’s not just one day, it’s every single day I come into work.
Intuit: What advice would you give someone just starting out in your field?
Jimena: The two main areas of importance are knowing that your work matters and having a way for diversity to show through in your work. Having those two in mind prepares you for a great career. If you are passionate about the work you are doing, work will feel like an extension of your life.
Focusing on the second is a mindset of how can you amaze yourself in thinking about a problem in a different way. The way you are willing to implement a solution relates to you specifically. You need to have the professional skill set that is required for your job, but also, you can unlock so much power when you understand how to leverage your past experiences and background, so that you can bring that unique perspective that will add value to any company or team that you join.
People don’t hire you for your skills, they hire you for who you are. It’s not about just focusing on what you do and dedicating yourself to it, but focusing on what makes you uniquely you in how you do your job.
Intuit: Tell us about your life outside of work.
Jimena: My secret hobby is jewelry making and the deal I have with myself is that instead of spending money on jewelry, I make it. This allows me to have a creative outlet. My job is complex, so when I am thinking about shapes and colors, it uses a different side of my brain and skill set that allows me to unwind from the week.
I also love being close to nature, so I have a new bike and my partner and I go bike riding or hiking on the weekends. Our lives are very different from a year ago, when we lived in the East Village, but I believe you make the best out of the uniqueness of the place you live in. Now, I get to enjoy the Bay Area, one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived!