#NAW2021 Interview: Jessica Leigh Jones MBE, Co-Founder and Chief Executive
What is an “intrapreneur” and how can companies be “intrapreneurial”?
An intrapreneur is a person employed by an organisation, usually a large corporate, who performs the role of an entrepreneur from within the company. They are responsible for developing and commercialising new products or services and are given a budget to invest in new technologies, market research, and people to develop the ideas. They are granted a high level of autonomy within the company to make technical and financial investment decisions and shortcut many of the organisation’s usual processes, often with a direct reporting line to the CEO or Board of Directors.
When implemented effectively, intrapreneurship provides a strategic tool for large, and often risk-averse organisations, to implement agile and responsive new product development processes. This enables large organisations to develop and sustain competitive advantage within their markets.
However, intrapreneurship can be much more than this. Google, one of the world’s most innovative companies, treats all it’s employees as intrapreneurs, at least for one day per week. All Google employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time on a project, unrelated to their day-job. Through this initiative came Google Maps, Gmail, Google Books, and Adsense – a selection of Google’s most successful products.
Intrapreneurship works equally well for small and medium-sized organisations (SMEs). The key to implementing intrapreneurship in any organisation is to cultivate an inclusive culture that values new ideas and different ways of thinking. Introducing agile practices such as “Fail Forward Fast” help turn the concept of intrapreneurship into practice.
Where did the idea for an Apprenticeship in Engineering Entrepreneurship come from?
Welsh Government recently published its draft Future of Manufacturing in Wales: Framework for Action report. When we evaluated the current state of the manufacturing industry in Wales, adjusting for covid, the term “innovation” sprang to mind. How can we encourage more manufacturing organisations, large and small, to invest in innovation as a means of building back better?
At iungo, we believe that the answer lies in developing collaborative ecosystems, organisational resilience and enhanced capability, and intrapreneurial thinking. We aim to address each of these aspects with our new Apprenticeship in Engineering Entrepreneurship.
There is nothing like this available in England or Wales, right now. Most existing Apprenticeships are geared towards well-known occupations, as opposed to roles where the value is derived from transferable skills such as leadership, creativity, initiative and resilience. Furthermore, this apprenticeship seeks to directly support the organisation, in addition to the apprentice, to facilitate an environment in which intrapreneurship can blossom.
What are your next steps?
This month, we secured funding from the Royal Society to deliver this apprenticeship within a record timeframe. We are carefully considering how this programme fits within the existing landscape of training initiatives, to ensure that we facilitate progression opportunities and deliver maximum impact to the sector.
This quarter, we are seeking expressions of interest from manufacturing organisations who may have a requirement for this apprenticeship. From which, we will assemble an advisory group to engage with us on the development of the Apprenticeship.
We want to hear from organisations who can assist with the delivery of the apprenticeship. Especially those with experience of Shared Apprenticeship Schemes, or similar collaborative models.
What’s your vision for intrapreneurship in 2021?
I believe that intrapreneurship will be at the heart of the economic recovery from covid-19. If nothing else, the global pandemic has illustrated how adaptable, resilient, and innovative we are in a time of crisis. However, businesses cannot afford to become complacent as things start to slowly return to “normal”. The way that we work, live, and consume has changed since the pandemic; for businesses to survive they have to innovate.
Intrapreneurship is an organisational mindset. Therefore, we must support organisations to develop an inclusive culture and improve access to talent to take forward intrapreneurial roles. To this end, I believe our new will stimulate an intrapreneurial revolution in the South Wales manufacturing industry and beyond.