Vault Q&A: Young Yuk, Intuit's Rotational Development Program
Vault: How did you find out about Intuit's rotational program and why did it appeal to you?
Yuk: Coming out of college, I knew I didn't want to do engineering and programming anymore, so I wanted a transition job. The Rotational Development Program, even the phrase, got me excited. I randomly learned about it just through the career center e-mail list, luckily.
I didn't know such programs existed until senior year of college, but now I think there's more buzz around these types of programs. I'm heavily involved in college recruiting, so I go to most events and share my perspective on the program. People are very interested. I think people think of the program as a means to rise up the corporate ladder faster. I don't necessarily like that correlation, but it's there.
When you get out of college, most people still don't know what they want to do. This is a good way to accelerate your career development. You get hands-on experience rather than just hearing about it or doing informational interviews. You also learn to think like a person in that job and can ask the right questions.
And with the people I work with who are in their 30s and 40s, when I talk to them, they always say they wish they had done something like this.
Vault: So you explored other similar programs?
Yuk: Yes. I think the difference between our program and others is that other companies are focused on one function like marketing and you get to rotate within that function. With our program, you rotate across multiple functions that are core to the business and mostly focused on delivering for customers.
Vault: How is the program structured?
Yuk: It's a 27-month program, so two years and three months. Every six months, we rotate into a different core business function: marketing, product management, product development--which is optional, if you're qualified, process excellence--which is like operations, and strategy.
Everyone starts off in Tucson, AZ for three months at our call center. This is not necessarily one of our rotations, but we go there to learn about our products and learn about our customers by providing technical phone support. That period in Tucson serves as a springboard for our first rotation. Intuit has a very high attention to customer-driven innovation, it's one of our buzzwords, having that perspective is very important
Vault: So everyone does that rotation together?
Yuk: Yeah, it's almost like The Real World, everyone gets an apartment that they share with a person in the program, and you get a car. The apartment and car are provided by Intuit. You get to know each other for three months. That's one of the things I'll look back on most fondly, that I made 11 good friends in the Boot Camp, which is what we call it.
Vault: So then where do you rotate to?
Yuk: The rest of the rotations are primarily in Mountain View, our headquarters. There are occasional rotations elsewhere.
Generally there's a big list of opportunities available, and we get to talk to leaders and managers on what our top three or five rotations would be. Then the leaders and all of our advisors get into a room and make decisions, combining business need and personal desires. There's no interviewing or anything like that.
Everyone hits marketing and product management. If you have a background in it, you can do programming. There's a process excellence rotation, which is Six Sigma related, improving internal business processes. There's also a strategy rotation, but only a few of us have done that so far.
Vault: What rotations did you do?
Yuk: Product development, marketing, product management, and strategy.
I did programming, because I wanted to prove to myself that I can do that at Intuit, and learn how it's done at our company, even though I knew coming in that I didn't want to do that long term. Marketing, that was a stretch of my brain, because it's thinking in a totally different way than engineers do. At the highest level, marketers are selling the product, you can't just blast them with all the details up front. Engineers like to be specific with how things work. While I enjoyed my marketing rotation, I don't think I could be as successful at it.
Product management was an easier transition given my technical background.
I enjoy strategy because it's very being in the front end of things, looking for new businesses, and also I like the fact that we Intuit has a focus on not just the market but looking at the customer problems, which I enjoy.
All the rotations have given me a tremendous amount of self-awareness, we explicitly have discussions with managers and advisors and among each other about what we like to do, what we don't like to do, all the time.
Vault: What happens after you finish your last rotation?
Yuk: I'll be done in December. It's a new process, so what they're going to do is have us talk to hiring managers for about three weeks. Shouldn't be much a surprise as to what the offer should be. Some of us know they want to go into product management, some know they want to go into marketing. I would be content with a full-time strategy job.
I think there might be a job outside for me that might be better. One thing that's great is I can have honest discussions with our managers and leaders about what I want to be doing 5 to 10 years out. We think it's important that people are happy and doing work that they are passionate about. One of our leaders thinks that if Intuit helps someone recognize their passion and supports them in finding that dream job, he/she would leave as a promoter of the company as a great place to work, with a focus on individuals' goals.
Vault: Do you have events with the others in the program regularly?
Yuk: We meet up all the time. After every six months, we have two to three days for development and fun. We have a full day on something around leadership, or maybe something around effective written communication, and then we'll have a whole day of group bonding activities. During the rotation we have monthly meetings, and also there are a slew of courses that they offer to all employees that we tap into.
Vault: Anything else you'd like to talk about?
Yuk: There's one aspect of my job that I would like to mention. We get the opportunity to do white space projects where you get to drive a project with 10 percent of your time and run with it. The project that I've been driving, with a team of eight to 10 people, has as its goal trying to accelerate people's development.
So far, what we've done is interview leaders across the company for an hour--we go to all levels of the organization from managers to executives--we ask them questions about leadership, career and personal development. Then we document this all and share it across the company through a wiki. Each person has a profile and there's a diagram of their journey of their career inside and outside Intuit. So employees in the company are getting to know their leaders and where they're coming from, and are getting exposed to different career paths. It helps us understand what paths might be available for us looking forward.
At first we thought, we were going to learn tips on how to rise up the corporate ladder faster, but instead, our team has walked about with great life lessons that we're trying to apply today.
Intuit leaders invest heavily on teaching. I don't know that at other companies leaders would be willing to share their personal stories and be honest about mistakes they've made. It's our company culture that helps foster this.