July 01, 2019
Student Spotlight: Intuit Intern Learns To Influence Without Authority
As a product manager intern for Intuit, MBA student Shankara Bharadwaj is putting in practice his organizational behavior coursework.
As a consultant in information technology, Tepper School of Business MBA student Shankara Bharadwaj worked with clients across different industries to build technology solutions that delivered business value. Within a few years, he had discovered a new interest in product management, and began the job hunt. But with little success, he decided to build his business skills in an MBA program.
Now, he’s right where he was hoping to be a year ago: Working as a product management intern at a major technology company. He’s spending his summer in Plano, Texas, working on a product called ProConnect from Intuit, the software company behind TurboTax and QuickBooks.
“Intuit was always on my radar,” Bharadwaj said. “Intuit is more than just a tax company or an accounting company. It’s a design and innovation company. They have made tax preparing easy and aesthetically pleasing.”
Business & Technology Club Silicon Valley Trek
In the fall semester of 2018, Bharadwaj joined the Business & Technology Club on their Silicon Valley career trek, where he and his classmates had the opportunity to visit Intuit’s Mountain View headquarters in California. “Going on the trek was a huge help,” Bharadwaj said. “We got to go to the campus and see firsthand what the company was like. Most of the people who went to Intuit said it was the best visit of the whole trip.”
The Business & Technology Club was an important resource for Bharadwaj throughout the recruitment process for his internship, as the club facilitated mentorship opportunities and interview preparation. The collaborative and supportive student experience was one of the reasons he chose the Tepper School for the MBA. “When I came to visit Tepper, I really appreciated how close-knit the group seemed to be,” he said.
Journey to Intuit
Following the fall trek, Intuit’s MBA recruitment team reached out to Bharadwaj and invited him to interview for a product management internship. After two behavioral interviews and a virtual interview in which he was asked to work through a business problem and explain his thought processes, the Plano team offered him the position.
Bharadwaj is working with a product that is part of Intuit’s ProConnect software suite and looking into how it can be adapted into a platform. “Currently the product is very feature rich and delivers a lot of functionality that accountants and tax preparers need to file tax returns,” he said. “But there is a lot that they do in their work cycle that isn’t tax returns. I’m working on how this product can be the place for them to do their other jobs.”
He noted a similarity between his project at Intuit and his work in Technology Strategy, a course he took this spring with Tim Derdenger, Associate Professor of Marketing and Strategy. “It’s funny that the project is exactly what we talked about in class: product versus platform,” Bharadwaj said. “Good old Tepper concepts.”
He’s also found a lot of value in his organizational behavior coursework, particularly concepts taught by Brandy Aven, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory. “You need to influence without authority at times,” Bharadwaj said. “You have to show your team the vision the project is working toward and get them on board, and have them be as passionate about the product as you are.”
Returning to Tepper
Having that practical experience will be helpful as Bharadwaj returns to the Tepper School for his second year, he said. “There is a lot of what I’ve learned in just a few weeks that I know will be very valuable. Whether in a club or team situation, working on a group project, you have to have a lot of influence without authority. You have to organize and mobilize as a team What I am doing on a day-to-day basis is very applicable in all these situations.
Another experience Bharadwaj intends to bring back to Tepper is the enthusiasm from his Plano team. “People here are extremely passionate about what they do,” he said. “I see how that passion can rev up a room. I want to bring that back to Tepper. If you bring that energy, it makes the environment feel more like a family.”
Bharadwaj hopes to move into a similar role upon his graduation from the Tepper School, working at a company that builds technological solutions like Intuit’s. “I love how empathetic the Intuit family is to its customers,” he said. “I’m grateful to be here. I’m learning a lot. I have only good things to say about the people I’m working with and the things we’re doing here.”