Intrapreneurship Conclave 2017

The first of its kind discourse on Intrapreneuring and Innovation at the Intrapreneurship Conclave 2017 held on the 9th of March at Vivanta by Taj was hosted by Unfold Consulting. We had practitioners and thought leaders as speakers to decode this topic and its application for India

Session 1: Mr. Gifford Pinchot our key-note speaker from Seattle spoke about the business case behind Intrapreneurship and its growing relevance for corporations. Gifford has been credited with coining the term ‘Intrapreneurship’ and giving it visibility as a critical role in organizations. He provoked the audience with his first question “Is your company going to be the Disruptor of the industry or are you going to be Disrupted? Some of the highlights of his dialogue was:

  • Intrapreneurs are the corporate entrepreneurs or “dreamers who do” who have the ability to turn ideas into profitable solutions.
  • The primary cause for the lower returns of corporate managers of innovation is their failure to understand the importance of backing the right people.
  • He likened Intrapreneurship to toast by saying it can serve a lot of things on it such as cost cutting, strategic implementation and employee retention.
  • It is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. Intrapreneurs, like soldiers, have to have the courage to do what’s right instead of getting discouraged by the ‘corporate immune system’
  • Intrapreneurship needs a community sense of ownership to make it a success, among his many examples, he used the example of Hussein, General Manager of Validation Engineering Group who was facing a 16% budget cut on every aspect of the project in his department but did not want to lay off any of his employees, so he asked for ideas from his entire team and gave them the freedom to explore without asking for permission. This led to confidence boost in the employees and innovative ideas resulting in a whopping savings of 19.4%.
  • He emphasized on the importance of Intrapreneurship in the workplace and how levers like support and gratitude strengthen the working relationship between the employee and the manager inspiring innovation.
  • You cannot have cost-effective innovation unless you hire, train and encourage intrapreneurs.

Gifford gave a gift of his bestselling book on Intrapreneuring as a free download from Amazon if purchased in 48 hours after the conclave.

Session 2: Intrapreneuring and ‘double duty’: Professor Ranjan Das, THE STRATEGY ACADEMY, IIM Kolkata.

He curated his session through his 100% Live and 2 way interactive communication platform where he interacted with the participants as soon as their questions were typed on the tool. He made a passionate appeal to Intrapreneurs to be the change they wish to see

  • He encouraged organisations and individuals to change their mindset and change the way things are done if they are dissatisfied and impatient with the work they are doing.
  • He encouraged the participants to be clear about their motives and aspirations, for them to become great Intrapreneurs.
  • He also talked about actions to promote Intrapreneurship orientation within an organisation by allowing employees to participate in the rewards of what they create, such as being granted ownership rights in the internal enterprises they create or performance pay. This promotes innovation at a large scale and allows the organisation to grow as well.
  • Questions like “What is the importance of loyalty in identifying a right intrapreneur?” were asked and his response was that ‘there is no right or wrong intrapreneur and investing in them is taking a risk but it is a worthy risk as the reward is greater than the investment”.
  • He likened Intrapreneurs to heavyweight boxers and how they needed to stick their neck out to land a knockout punch and the need to recognize that intrapreneuring is about ‘double duty’ and requires immense stretching to turn ideas into solutions.

Session 3: Innovation for the Long Haul by Mr Sowmendra Das from Intuit.

He brought about a different approach when he added into the mix on how innovation could last for a long time in an organisation.

  • For Innovation to succeed intrapreneurs need to fall in love with the problem and not the solution.
  • In order for an organisation to grow they have to establish a culture of trust, differentiate between inquiry and advocacy, data and opinion
  • Mutation is the key to evolution. At Intuit, Intrapreneurs help evolve the organizational DNA by designing for delight – building deep customer empathy, going broad to going narrow and through rapid experimentation.

Session 4: Case study– Know how CISCO’s thingQbator enables its intrapreneurs to innovate better.

Mr Chandrashekar, IOT Strategy, Innovation and Incubation showcased how Cisco has adopted Intrapreneurship and democratized innovation through ThingQbator a space for experimentation which has become a catalyst for innovation and an enabler for Intrapreneurs. The intent behind ThingQbator was to build curiosity, interest and enthusiasm about IOT amongst the developer community in Bangalore. They made a makerspace for the ThingQbator project with tools and community support from Cisco community, making it a place where there was no shame in failing but more support to grow. ThingQbator started small as an idea and bootstrapped but with a successful prototype in Bangalore, it is now scaling to locations at Pune and London.

The key learning from the case was that:

  • Innovation is a function of context and every context is different
  • One needs to evolve an operating model rather than define one.
  • Community support made people more available to try new things and develop new ideas and products

He ended his presentation by answering the question posed by a participant “Is collaboration a promoter for innovation?’’. He responded by saying ‘’ I absolutely agree, we found that it was easy to be focused and innovative if one had partners or the support of the community, so we encourage partnerships in our cohorts”.

Session 5: Case study – Fostering Innovation through Start-up Collaborations: McDonald’s India

Mr Pawanjit Singh the General Manager New Business Channels, highlighted the challenge how most start-ups did not know how to scale after starting while corporations who are established and stable do not know how to start and build on new ideas or ventures- and to bridge this gap one has to build a successful collaboration that is a win-win. McDonald’s uses unbundling (collaborations with services being offered) with start-ups so as to stay in the Industry and also keep sustaining. This is a way of not allowing disruption to take place in the business. He used examples of how they needed internet in the restaurants and had to work with a network provider, how they needed a smart kitchen and had to work with a smart kitchen provider such as Bistro and Innit to provide a service they needed for their sustainability.

The case focused on:

  • Framework for scaling distribution with start-up collaborations
  • How to get the right objective fit and build a corporate program to engage with start-ups
  • How to mitigate barriers for collaboration – internal cultural barriers, relational barriers, external environmental barriers.

He emphasized that the participants needed to have a thick skin to curb internal and external factors with the 4 phases of initiating, establishing, progressing and sustaining to become successful Intrapreneurs.

Session 6: Learning from a Founder’s Journey: Inside Out – Outside In- Ravikiran Annaswammy, CEO Innohabit Technologies

A founder’s perspective on Intrapreneurship built the reflection for organizations and intrapreneurs to consider a 360 degree view. This view helps prepare for what can go wrong while starting up and what can change in the process of making.

Lessons for Intrapreneurs were:

  • How do you work on an idea?
  • How to build an initial strategy?
  • How to effectively execute?
  • How to go to market?
  • How to take decisions and consider the right risk with rewards?
  • How to exit at the right time?

He ended by encouraging everyone through a Michelangelo quote saying “I am still learning” meaning in this Intrapreneurial journey, there is always something new to learn.

Session 7: WORKSHOP – How to become a STAR Intrapreneur – Suraj Sudhi, Director IOT and Big Data

An experiential format with activities was led by Suraj Sudhi from SAP to help aspiring intrapreneurs understand their roles and how to convert ideas to commercial solutions. The participants worked on ideas that could come from any context – personal, social, organizational. They had to build their ideas for commercial viability.

To become a Star Intrapreneur one needs:

  • To understand the context and the type of innovation that can drive value within that context
  • To have the ability to learn fast, fail fast and recover fast.

Questions were asked on how he thought other smaller organisations could encourage Intrapreneurship. His response mainly focused on understanding the problem they want to solve and create an ongoing solution suitable for the context.

Session 8: WORKSHOP – Future of Work through Intrapreneur Lens: Climate for Innovation by UNFOLD.

This workshop was led by Puja and APARNA from Unfold with guest speakers from Intuit and Dayanand Sagar University. The workshop focused on insights that enable a culture for intrapreneurs to thrive, profiling of intrapreneurs and how similar or different are they from entrepreneurs; insights from next generational aspirations and thinking and co creating solutions against a framework that builds Intrapreneurial competencies for organizations, teams and individuals.

It was a highly interactive workshop with audience asking questions and reflecting on

  • Whether there were barriers to Intrapreneurship or was it inclusive of age and circumstance?
  • Are Intrapreneurs self-made or can the skill be developed? How does one retain and engage  intrapreneurs?
  • What are the roles of managers and teams? How does one build a governance and sponsorship for  Intrapreneurship?

Amit Raj guest speaker from Intuit highlighted Intuit’s effort to mobilise the next generation network which is a forum for millennials to collaborate and ideate.

Professor Janardhan R highlighted the efforts of Dayanand Sagar Institute to incubate student startups. The core reason behind this change for an academic institution is to harness new ideas and to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of freshers who are the workforce of tomorrow.

For more details or for requesting to run this workshop do write in to

Session 9: Panel Discussion – Transforming Organisational Culture with Intrapreneurship: Moderated by Benedict Paramanand, Editor, Author, CEO Biz Lit Fest – ManagementNext.

Discussion focused on the following to explore both at Individual and Organisational level

  1. Perception that present corporate culture stifle creativity – which also means stifles intrapreneurship
  2. Challenges of hiring intrapreneurs – how do you spot Intrapreneurship trait in potential recruits
  3. Is the lack of a vibrant Intrapreneurial culture reason for fewer successful product companies in India?
  4. Is quarterly focus on results a huge hindrance to building a culture of innovation, creativity and Intrapreneurship?

Broad questions to panelists


Vidya Laxman, Director Technology, TESCO. You have been an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur – how do you juxtapose these roles?
Ajoy Chawla, SVP Strategy and Business Incubation, Titan. Is the Tata Culture conducive for intrapreneurship? How is it being a serial intrapreneur – having launched multiple businesses in Titan?
Srikanth N R – MD HR, Delivery Centres for Technology, Accenture India. How can HR be transformed if it has to play a vital role in building a culture of intrapreneurship in organizations.
Surya Prakash Mohapatra – Managing Director, Human Resources, Wipro BPS. Wipro is considered a nursery for entrepreneurship. Which means it has a robust intrapreneurship culture, How does this happen? Can people be trained to become intrapreneurs?
Suhas Dutta – India Delivery Centre Lead and COO Global Delivery Network Quintiles IMS. You have been a 3 times entrepreneur and continue to nurture one of them. What kind of freedom does an intrapreneur enjoy while closing deals?