West Virginia Executive Fall 2020 - Page 36

“ The future is here , and we have to lean in as a state , teach 21st century skills and make the assets and tools available to our people .”

Creating Prosperity in the Mountain State
Smith ’ s journey with Marshall University started in childhood . Growing up in Kenova , WV , he was 6 years old when he watched the mountain burn after the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 athletes , coaches , flight crew members and fans .
“ I saw this tragedy and how it impacted an entire community ,” he says . “ Then I saw that community rise from the ashes . I saw the university ask , ‘ How are we going to make a better tomorrow ?’ From there , my brothers and I had the pleasure of being the first in our family to go to college , and we all graduated from Marshall . Anything I ’ ve ever been able to achieve in my life is because Marshall University and Kenova were the houses that built me .”
While Smith , who stepped down as CEO of Intuit last year and now serves as executive chairman of the company ’ s board of directors , has lived and worked in Silicon Valley for many years , he has carried West
Virginia and
Marshall University in his heart . He and his wife , Alys , have funded hundreds of scholarships for Marshall students who are the first in their family to attend college . Smith also started a Shark Tank-style contest at Marshall in 2016 , where he served as a judge alongside Jennifer Garner and Chad Pennington . He saw his 2018 gift to the university ’ s business school as an opportunity to give more than money but to give hope and support to the next generation , and he is excited about the possibilities it represents .
“ My ties to Marshall are — I ’ ll borrow from Tim McGraw — humble and kind ,” he says . “ When you get where you ’ re going , don ’ t forget to turn back around and help the next one in line . That is why I am so passionate about Marshall . We are bringing Silicon Valley techniques to Marshall and teaching how to have an experimentation entrepreneurial mindset by taking those techniques and embedding them into the curriculum . They blessed us by choosing to rename the school for me , but I ’ m most excited by the fact that they ’ re teaching the world that all creation doesn ’ t happen in New York , Massachusetts or California . It can happen right here in West Virginia .”
Smith is also involved in another project to create a more prosperous Mountain State — the Intuit Prosperity Hub Program — which was launched to generate economic prosperity for people living in distressed cities by creating new jobs , preparing people for jobs of the future and equipping entrepreneurs to start successful businesses . It began with two pilot sites in 2016 — Wise , VA , and Johnston , PA — and its $ 60 million investment in those communities has created 1,150 jobs and more than $ 32 million in wages and benefits . Hub sites are chosen based on three criteria : the opportunity for Intuit to have a strong business impact , a strong community impact and strong community support .
“ We want to go into communities where people think their best days were yesterday and show them there is a better tomorrow ,” says Smith . “ Talent is evenly distributed around the