Contact: Peter Kerwin
Students take part in workshop with Intuit co-founder and brainstorm next generation of TurboTax software
Scott Cook, co-founder and chairman of the board at Intuit, recently gave MBA students at the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison a unique opportunity to learn about what it takes for a company to stay at the top of its field and develop the products that will meet the needs of its next generation of customers.
Cook led a hands-on workshop on product innovation, focused on updating Intuit’s market-leading TurboTax software, as part of the Center for Brand and Product Management’s Applied Learning course. In preparation for the session, 41 students read an analyst’s in-depth report on Intuit’s TurboTax business and interviewed consumers to learn what customers want and where they encounter difficulties in the taxpaying process. At the heart of the workshop was a brainstorming session led by Cook that sought to mine those consumer insights and explore innovations to TurboTax that would meet their needs in the future.
“I brought to the class a real problem we are trying to solve at the company so I could get insights from the fresh eyes of the students and also give students the opportunity to learn how work is done in Silicon Valley,” said Cook.
“Intuit has been an invaluable corporate partner to the Wisconsin School of Business,” said Mike Judge, director of the Center for Brand and Product Management and instructor for the course. “Scott elevated the active learning experience by providing his deep expertise with students in an interactive and engaging way. The students were well prepared for the workshop and excited to connect with an industry leader like Scott.”
The workshop gave students an in-depth look at the product innovation process. After leading students through the brain-storming session, Cook discussed how Intuit’s new product development group is currently going through the same process and responding to the same challenges. His presentation offered a rare insight into how ideas are generated, refined, and ultimately executed at a company that takes pride in its culture of innovation.
Students recognized the value of what they learned by taking part in this process and were impressed by the results of the workshop, as well as by Cook’s vision for the company.
“It takes a pure understanding of your consumers to have such a clearly defined vision,” said Jackie Swoyer (MBA ’16). “This understanding doesn’t come easily—it requires a thoughtful and empathetic approach. I hope to be able to build such a clear and meaningful vision for my brands someday.”
Cook and his wife, Signe Ostby (BBA ’75, MBA ’75) founded the Center for Brand and Product Management in 2002 and are among the more than two dozen leaders of product management companies who serve on the Center’s Advisory Board. It is the nation’s first university-based center focused on producing talent and knowledge in the field of brand and product management.