Rising Haitian Technology Star Shares 3 Most Important Money Lessons

Intuit’s Merline Saintil gets intimate about her financial life

Haitian Technology
(Image: Topher Simon photography)

Things were not easy for Merline Saintil and her four younger siblings, when her family immigrated from Haiti to the United States. In addition to dealing with the often unwelcoming arms of her new country, Saintil had to work hard to create the psychological, emotional, and financial foundation she needed to thrive.

Yet, thrive she did. Saintil, who Business Insider has recognized as number six on its list, “22 Most Powerful Women Engineers in the World,” is currently one of a very few number of female executives in the technology world, as Head of Operations for the executive vice president and chief technology officer at Intuit. She also serves on Intuit’s Executive Diversity Council.  

Saintil was previously Head of Global Engineering Operations for mobile and emerging products at Yahoo, and has also managed global teams at Sun Microsystems, Adobe, PayPal, and Joyent, Inc.

BE.com caught up with Saintil, and she shared personal insight for our series, Three Most Important Lessons You’ve Learned About Money:

BE.com: What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned about money?

Saintil:

  1. Don’t let where you start define where you end. I believe that the following Oprah Winfrey quote best summarizes a lesson that I learned from my mother, “I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who, from an early age, knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.”
  2. I also found this meaningful Ayn Rand quote in a magazine about a decade ago, and I’ve carried it in my wallet ever since,“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”
  3. Compete only with yourself. As a resident of downtown Palo Alto, C.A., it is so easy to spend time in angst, because your neighbor is more successful than you are. It can motivate you to spend your time and energy trying to “keep up with the Joneses. I learned early on that it’s really just about being a better version of myself; waking up every day and asking myself, “Am I living up to my potential?”

BE.com:  How did you learn these lessons?

Saintil: Growing up with limited resources wasn’t easy, but it didn’t define me. My mother was a role model who showed me the value of hard work and resiliency. She emphasized that greatness can come from periods of suffering. These lessons have kept me focused and consistent.

BE.com: If you had one lesson you could convey to people about money, what would it be?

Saintil: Know where your money is going. Long before I joined Intuit, I was an avid Quicken user. As we have moved to an SaaS-based business, Mint is now my daily habit. I believe in leading an intentional life. Understanding my full financial picture enables me to make the most informed decisions.