How to succeed as an intrapreneur
Entrepreneurship at UTS is about a mindset; a range of skills; and a personal journey exploring innovation. Yes, you can develop an idea into your own business by launching a startup, but you can also apply the mindset and the skills of an entrepreneur to a job in the corporate world, or public service, or in research and be a so-called ‘intrapreneur’.
Ann Schoefer, Deputy Director, Partnerships and Engagement, UTS Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers insight on the value ‘intrapreneurship’ can bring to your career.
Think about it. You might be embarking on a career in health, and by applying a human-centred design approach to the patient experience in your clinic, you help a team create a new range of services customised to the needs of patients.
Or, you might be working as a lawyer, and have identified a gap in the suite of products offered to clients. That might even lead you to pitch a strategy to develop a startup within your firm to develop a new product - an approach that many companies are adopting.
Being an innovator
Whatever the job, the intrapreneur who applies an entrepreneurial mindset can use and adapt skills and tools of entrepreneurship; direct them to any field of endeavour, and by giving themselves a competitive edge to excel in their career.
For me, being an intrapreneur by honing my entrepreneurial skills, making lifelong learning a part of my professional development, and seeking new opportunities to apply this approach, has played a critical role throughout my career - from working with leading global companies through to higher education.
For me, being an intrapreneur and being entrepreneurial, means being a life-long learner, being open to new ideas and skills; and, looking at the world through an innovator’s lens.
Earlier in my career in Germany, I worked for L'Oréal in the business to business (B2B) division for the German market. I had the opportunity to design and implement a unique approach to position the company as a market leader through an executive development program for business clients who were owner-operators of chains of hairdressing salons. Typically, our clients were trained hairdressers; had started their own salon, and gone on to open more salons. However, few had acquired the business skills to really develop their companies.
Together with Germany’s number one business school, L'Oréal was able to offer hair salon managers a bespoke business education course and learning experiences tailored to their profession and market. The opportunity to learn from world-leading academic and business thought leaders enabled managers to not only gain new knowledge but develop a new way of thinking that led to new approaches for their businesses. One group of clients even kept on working on their idea developed in the course and launched a new venture shortly after completion.
This program completely changed the relationship between L'Oréal and its clients - particularly with the influential top tier of clients that our competitors wanted to win. And most importantly, it increased our market share. The program strengthened the brand and reputation by generating a lot of media coverage as no one had ever done this before.
Where to begin
Your journey as an intrapreneur starts with you. So, why not start with your CV? Though, rather than focusing on what you’ve done, focus on what you’re good at. You’ll be surprised, you probably are already applying entrepreneurial skills in your job, but perhaps you have not clearly identified them yet or communicated how you are intrapreneurial.
Think about what challenges you faced in a role or a recent project. How did you overcome those challenges? Did you do something different? Why? What value did you bring to the team? What was the outcome?
Write those attributes down. You might start to see yourself from a different perspective and be surprised how valuable or transferable your skills are.
For example, developing a solution points to your analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as creative confidence.
Creating a plan illustrates your strategic thinking skills and being able to see the big picture.
Good at listening to customers points to empathy and understanding the customer experience.
And good communication skills means you know how to speak the language of executives and how to pitch your ideas.
LinkedIn is a useful professional platform to research the skillsets relevant to your profession, or skills that you aspire to develop.
Along with updating your CV by describing your entrepreneurial skills, go on and update your skills in your LinkedIn profile and seek endorsements from colleagues and peers.
Try new skills, approaches and tools
There are many ways to learn new entrepreneurial skills or to try new tools.
Through the UTS Open platform, you can dive into the excellent Introduction to Entrepreneurship course. You’ll learn about key entrepreneurial terms, explore examples of entrepreneurship, and be introduced to different methods of thinking and how to apply them in any situation of creative problem-solving.
Better still, you can sign up to attend entrepreneurial workshops offered through UTS Startups or come along to an inspirational talk in our event space.
I recently hosted a fireside chat with Pandora Shelley - a UTS Alumna and former CEO of Fishburners, Australia’s largest startup community. A core topic of our discussion was the value of intrapreneurship. For Pandora, being an intrapreneur means: “being a risk-taker, thinking outside the box and being adaptable. A lot more organisations today are wanting people like that, so don’t be afraid to step up.”
And of course, in Sydney and in many other cities, you’ll find dozens of startup, entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship related Meetups. Use the Meetup app and explore a group that interests you or challenge yourself to attend a gathering of a slightly different interest group such as creative entrepreneurs.
For me, being an intrapreneur and being entrepreneurial, means being a life-long learner; being open to new ideas and skills; and, looking at the world through an innovator’s lens.