Figures of Progress: Tayloe Stansbury, Chief Technology Officer at Intuit

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In the past, managing your finances often meant balancing your checkbook at the kitchen table at night or making an appointment with a financial advisor at the bank. But today, managing your finances with speed, convenience, and accuracy has advanced by leaps and bounds thanks to the powerful technology that anyone can access. Since 1983, Intuit has worked to simplify financials, and is the powerhouse behind household names such as Quicken, QuickBooks, TurboTax and

Behind the technology Intuit produces is senior vice president and chief technology officer Tayloe Stansbury. Stansbury leads the engineering teams as they create Intuit’s innovative products and services for small businesses and the everyday consumer. “Intuit is in the business of improving the financial lives of consumers and small businesses—and with our expanding global presence, that pretty much covers everyone,” says Stansbury.

But how do they go about improving financial health? Data, of course. Intuit utilizes data not only to improve the products it offers, but also to help its customers improve themselves. Stansbury says, “Data enables us to deliver personalized insights, products and features that improve our customers' financial lives so profoundly, they can't imagine going back the old way.” By using, QuickBooks, or one of Intuit’s other offerings, customers are able to sort and organize their personal financial data in more useful ways to gain insights, find patterns about spending and savings, and ultimately have more transparency on their own financial lives to make informed decisions.

And consumers really are improving their habits. Take for instance. The site allows users to easily track their spending habits and set financial goals in a way that is organized and tailored to each user’s unique situation. Intuit first launched the goal setting feature three years ago, which analyzes spending habits and identifies way users can save money to put towards reaching that goal. “Since the launch [of the feature], more than 6 million goals have been created and users have saved nearly $40 billion toward those goals, “ says Stansbury.

The team at Intuit is often turning to data to decide on features and improve existing products, which according to Stansbury allows the company to deliver a better customer experience. Another example of data being organized to empower users is TurboTax. Last year, Intuit received around a quarter of a million reviews on TurboTax, and now shoppers wanting to learn more about the tool can easily analyze those reviews based on their own situation such as becoming a homeowner or being married. “Every situation has multiple unbiased reviews. As a result, our reviews have become 15 percent more convincing to our new customers,” says Stansbury.

For Stansbury, he feels it’s important for leaders to have customer empathy and a focus on delivering great product experiences. “This means delighting customers not only with the product, but also with the shopping experience before purchase and the support experience after.” Intuit is putting this into practice with small business owners across the U.S. and one of their new offerings, QuickBooks Financing. According to Stansbury less than 35 percent of applicants aren’t approved for bank loans and many don’t even bother to apply because of the long and time-consuming process. But with QuickBooks Financing, small business owners can easily share financial information with lenders. The platform pulls data from QuickBooks into applications giving lenders greater insights and business owners less headaches.

And that’s important. With less complications and easy-to-use software consumers and business owners alike are empowered to do more. “By solving people’s financial problems we help them realize their dreams, freeing them up to do what really matters to them,” notes Stansbury.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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