Raised amid protest and political uncertainty, becoming the leader of the US financial software firm (and one of the world’s largest), Intuit, is perhaps the last thing Sasan K Goodarzi (CEO) would have imagined for himself in his career.
Assuming the role of CEO in 2019, however, Goodarzi today leads Intuit on its mission to power prosperity around the world.
Here, we track the life and career of Goodarzi from humble and challenging beginnings in Tehran to becoming one of the leading figures in the world of fintech.
The early years
“I was 10 years old in the winter of 1978 when the streets of Tehran were filled with protesters. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had succeeded in his goal of ousting the Shah’s 2,500-year-old Peacock Throne, and the country was in turmoil,” said Goodarzi to the Stamford Advocate in 2018.
Forced to live under a sudden regime change, a young Goodarzi lived amid increasingly violent protests, and there seemed no way out with the country under lockdown at the time.
Fortunately for Goodarzi, he was able to make it to the US before the eventual overthrow of the Iranian government and the US embassy hostage crisis, moving to Orlando, Florida, with his mother and two older brothers.
“Although I was sad to leave my childhood home, something inside me was excited about the new adventure and opportunity that was ahead of us,” Goodarzi told the Stamford Advocate.
And, although he couldn’t know at the time, “this experience was instrumental in defining me as a business leader. It shaped the way I approach my career, my values and who I am today,” he added.
Bullied in his teenage years at school, this wouldn’t deter Goodarzi’s drive to succeed in the US. He proved that in later education, earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Central Florida before going on to attain a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Although, things were not so rosy initially. Goodarzi “flunked out” of an Ivy League college before buckling down at a local University to earn his qualifications.
Forging a career
In fact, Goodarzi’s working career began soon after he achieved his BA, working his way up at Honeywell to take several Senior Leadership roles over a nine-year tenure at the company, becoming Vice President and Managing Director for Mid America in his latter years there.
This was after the company he founded, Lazer Cables, didn’t quite work out, although it did prove another valuable lesson in his career.
With his experience at Honeywell and now with his MA in hand, Goodarzi went on to become Global President of Product Group for Invensys in 2002, a company later acquired by Schneider Electric.
It was then, in 2004, that Goodarzi joined Intuit for the first time, serving as the company’s SVP and GM for its professional tax division and Intuit Financial Services. He led several software companies acquired by Intuit in this time, in addition to the company’s operations in Canada and the UK.
He then got his first taste of life as a CEO in 2010, leaving Intuit to lead Nexant, a global provider of smart grid software and clean energy solutions.
A home at Intuit
However, when Intuit came calling again it was hard to say no – and Goodarzi became Chief Information Officer at the company in 2011, leading its transition to the cloud.
Then, in 2013, Goodarzi was appointed EVP and GM of the company’s Consumer Tax Group. Here, he helped drive Intuit’s mission to deliver a suite of products and services under the TurboTax brand to complete the company's goal of completing the taxes for everyone in the US and Canada.
After three years in the role, Goodarzi then went on to become Intuit’s EVP of Small Business & GM for its Small Business Group, a division focused on fuelling small business success.
The small business group he led included Intuit products including QuickBooks, QuickBooks Online, Payroll, Payments and the Intuit Partner Platform.
Atlassian & The Goodarzi Foundation
While successfully leading several divisions in the Intuit portfolio, Goodarzi was, concurrently, taking steps to expand his professional career by becoming a Board Member of Atlassian, a company that builds tools like Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket and Trello to help teams across the world become more nimble, creative and aligned.
A position he still holds today, Goodarzi is the Committee Chair for Altassian’s Compensation and Leadership Development Committee.
In the same year that Goodarzi joined Atlassian (2018), he also launched the Goodarzi Foundation, which awards grants to female students of Iranian descent who have migrated to the United States.
It is in this way that Goodarzi has completed his aim of “giving back” to those in a similar position to him when he first moved to the US.
CEO of Intuit
Eventually becoming CEO of Intuit in 2019, Goodarzi is now at the pinnacle of his career with the financial software company, where he remains determined and passionate about helping the company deliver on its mission of powering prosperity around the world.
“All of the challenges I faced growing up helped shape me and lead me to where I am today,” said Goodarzi to the Stamford Advocate.
“I have learned three leadership lessons that tie back to my childhood as an Iranian immigrant:
It all starts with big dreams and taking risks
Don’t forget to factor in hard work and failure
Diversity and inclusion make every team stronger
“Each contributes to how I try to lead every day,” Goodarzi finishes.
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