Your Haas Network
Shantanu Narayen, MBA 93
President and Chief Operating Officer,
Adobe Systems Inc.
San Jose, Calif.
The day-to-day challenge of running Adobe Systems, says Shantanu Narayen, MBA 93, is directing a team of creative individuals who are constantly coming up with new products, "I have to figure out how to take all the creative ideas and channel them effectively," he said. Narayen was promoted to president and chief operating officer in January 2005. He also serves on the Haas School's Advisory Board.
Narayen recognized his own need for these management skills when he decided to attend the Evening MBA Program at Haas in 1991. "At that time it was clear I needed to round out some of my entrepreneurial genes with a business education," he says. When he came to Haas, he already had the tools to help make him a technical success in Silicon Valley, a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's degree in computer science, but he was committed to getting a third degree.
Then, shortly after he started the MBA program in 1991, his first son was born. Now he laughs of the commitment: "If it had been the other way around I don't know if I could have made the trek to San Francisco three times a week."
Narayen joined Adobe in 1998, after stints at Apple Computer and Silicon Graphics. For several years he also ran his own firm, Pictra Inc., a company that pioneered the concept of digital photo sharing over the Internet. "Running Pictra was an incredible experience," he says. "I did everything from collecting the mail to figuring out corporate strategy."
Working to build Adobe and capitalize on the opportunities there is his goal now. "Software is an art," says Narayen. "But if you don't spend enough time with customers and understand what the products are, you won't be successful."