Vault Q&A: Catherine Wang, MBA in Tech Marketing
Vault: Tell me a little about your experience prior to business school
Wang: I was in consulting at McKinsey for two years and then worked with Charles Schwab for two years before going to business school.
Vault: Did you know going into business school that you wanted to move into high tech marketing?
Wang: I actually wanted to do marketing in general, so technology was less important. I chose Intuit less because Intuit is a software company, but more because of Intuit's approach to customers. Intuit is definitely not a technology company for the sake of being a technology company. It just happens that they use technology to solve their customer's needs. Frankly, I didn't interview with many tech companies, but was interested in Intuit's strong marketing organization.
I did my summer internship at Intuit. You can do either marketing or product development on the MBA side. The internship was very structured--lots of meetings with senior executives of the company, intern events, things like that.
Vault: Were there a lot of MBAs that joined Intuit at the same time you did?
Wang: There really isn't an MBA class my year; Intuit kind of hires MBAs as needed. That said, there's tons of MBAs at Intuit and there's tons of Stanford MBAs at Intuit.
There are many people who have very very similar backgrounds to you. We are a big company, but the culture at Intuit is very collaborative, it's very much about helping people out, getting to know people. You don't really have to be very proactive in networking, a lot of people reach out to get to know you. It's part of the company culture to make sure you have the mentors you need that you have the network that you need.
Vault: Tell me about your current position at Intuit
Wang: I'm a marketing manager, working on our payroll service, which is a small business solution that enables small businesses to do payroll in-house. It's a service within the Quickbooks product.
Vault: How is it delivered? Is it a CD or through the Web?
Wang: It's functionality that we turn on in Quickbooks. Think about your Cable TV, and how there are different packages. If you pay more, you get HBO versus if you didn't pay for it. It's kind of like that--we turn it on for you. Quickbooks itself can be downloaded from the Web or you can buy it off the shelf and install it.
Vault: So what does it mean to be a marketing manager at Intuit?
Wang: So marketing manager is comparable to a brand management position. What I manage is one of our channels, the phone channel. I work a lot through our call centers, to make sure that they have the materials they need. Our main call centers are in Tucson and Reno, so I go to each of them about once a month. Right now, I'm in Tucson.
We have a group of 12 marketing folks within payroll. For example, there's someone focused on retail, so packaging is a more important part of her responsibilities than it is for me. We also have someone who focuses on the web channel who's responsible for the content displayed on the web.
Vault: What is your impression of how marketing management at Intuit and other high tech companies compares to brand management at traditional packaged goods companies?
Wang: My perception is that with many consumer packaged goods companies, there's more of a focus on marketing. I would say it's less so that way here, because technology plays an important role. It's more of a balance.
I think a big difference between Intuit and a lot of other tech companies, however, is that marketing is very important. I did interview at tech companies where the folks I was interviewing with would say, "Honestly, we have some products that have certain functionality because the engineers thought it was cool." Here, the focus is on the customer and so I don't think you have that tension between engineering and marketing.
Vault: In brand management at traditional packaged goods companies, brand managers interface with a wide variety of departments in an organization. Who are you working with mainly?
Wang: People from all levels, starting from sales managers to coaches who lead a team of about 15 agents. We're very customer focused, so I spend a lot of time listening on calls to agents, to see who what our customers are saying, or doing agent focus groups.
For example, we did six focus groups around what types of marketing messages we should emphasize. This starts with identifying what are the benefits that customers really value, that has implications that they really sell--so if customers are saying that a benefit is not important, the salespeople aren't going to focus on that.
Vault: What about getting customers in the door in the first place?
Wang: So I also deal with lead generation--getting calls into the call center. That involves working with our managers who manage Quickbooks.com or Payroll.com, as well as working with our direct marketing organization. Direct marketing is a centralized function at Intuit, so all marketing managers coordinate with that team.
Vault: What other responsibilities do you have?
Wang: Although we're largely structured by channels, we also spend some time on different issues that affect all channels. For me, beyond telesales, I work on pricing promotion across channels. These promotions must be coordinated with other channels.
Vault: Was there a particular reason that pricing promotion fell under your oversight? Does it have particular relevance to the telesales channel?
Wang: No, it was just how things were divided up.
Vault: So are you frequently interacting with the marketing managers overseeing other channels?
Wang: Yes, definitely--every day, if not more frequently. Things that we do in one channel affect other channels. If we do a promotion on the Web, we know not everyone is going to order through the Web, some will call. If we are trying to grow sales of one particular product, that affects all channels.
Vault: Are you often in contact with the engineers building the products?
Wang: Not so much. We interface more with the product marketing folks. Of the 4 Ps in marketing, the marketing side is really focused on the pricing, promotions and placement. The product piece is really the ownership of the product managers. The product managers are the ones who take customer requirements, find out what functionality is missing, and they work with engineers with the product themselves.
The product managers and engineers work on future functionality, the marketing group focuses on selling current functionality.