Beyond Procurement: The Corporate Intrapreneur

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In this, the first in a series of guest posts for Procurement Leaders from Giles Breault and Sammy Rashed of The Beyond Group, Giles introduces the concept of the Corporate Intrapreneur and explains why procurement executives need to focus on this aspiration now more than ever...

We have long lamented that procurement needs to do more, much more, if it intends to become the business partner it so keenly aspires to, and have built our practice around helping organisations transform to that much desired state of trusted business advisor. While most transformations are accomplished by straightforward strategy-plan-implementation, there is another component that, in our mind, separates companies that really do transform from those that do not.

What is this quantum of energy that seems to tip teams in favour of ongoing transformation? It’s the spirit of ’intrapreneurialism’.

The very fact that people in an organisation are invested with a sense of being intrapreneurial, allows them new horizons of the possible and a renewed sense that their own capabilities will help break old business models and achieve greater levels of performance. But, first, what do we mean by intrapreneur and what marks out those with that skillset?

To quote Mark Bidwell, an ex-Syngenta business head (more on his involvement in a moment): “Unlike freewheeling entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs must work within a corporate framework. They create change inside organisations, often by challenging the status quo, but always by working with (rather than against) what has gone before.”


Leaders in motivation and innovation
This energy can be hugely creative and rejuvenating when appropriately directed towards valuable ends. In addition, they often possess a unique mind-set; a way of thinking and being that is rather different from their employee peers. For example, they might challenge their organisation to think in terms of exponential increases in performance versus incremental improvement.


They also know how to create space in their teams and organisations for the right conversations, debates, and explorations into the unknown.


In our experience with coaching people and teams, we find that when the spark of intrapreneurialism wanes or indeed is completely absent, it is nearly impossible for organisations to move beyond their current mandates. This leaves us with the fundamental question of whether or not it is possible to distil the essentials of intrapreneurialism and then be able to imbue ourselves, our teams and our extended organisations with this vital essence.


Further exploration

In this new blog series, we intend to go straight at this subject. We will progressively discuss the stages and levels that we believe individuals must progress through on their way to becoming an intrapreneur. We start this series with 1) understanding the individual in the context of the large enterprise, then 2) move onto how leaders design and build intrapreneurial teams and 3) finally we address how they spread the impact, thus helping other organisations make the same transformation.


You might ask then, what unique knowledge do the writers bring to this field, particularly when considering intrapreneurialism in the often highly constrained environment of procurement?

Each of us has a unique set of experiences, skills and capabilities to the table, and whose collective knowledge represent a compendium of what it takes to instil the spirit of intrapreneurship. Sammy has re-defined his role within large enterprises more than a dozen times, each time creating a new job that matched his aspirations and assets with an unmet company need. Giles has been a pioneer of the procurement function at the CPO level driving and embracing new trends well before they could have been claimed as mainstream.


Furthermore, we have teamed up with the aforementioned Mark Bidwell, an ex-Syngenta business head whose intrapreneurial leadership skills underpinned his success leading a newly formed €2bn new business unit. Mark is himself now an entrepreneur advising others on how to build the right capabilities to significantly move the needle.


So the time is now. Procurement has progressed dramatically over the last decades and has become recognised for its highly tuned commercial and risk management skills driving large scale globally based organisations. We believe the next step to crossing the bridge and becoming a critical member of the executive leadership team will depend more on a set of skills that today are not part of the procurement repertoire.


We hope that you will join us for this journey and through your comments contribute to this dialogue and our collective knowledge on intrapreneurialism.

Stay tuned for this monthly series on Procurement Leaders.

Giles Breault and Sammy Rashed are co-founders of The Beyond Group.


Giles is executive coach & advisor to innovative companies, executives and individuals providing leadership, knowledge, and experience across a spectrum of business activities including; global procurement function leadership, productivity, and business services.

Sammy Rashed is a career-long intrapreneur who created every one of his roles over 25 years experience, ultimately making the leap to become an entrepreneur. He now focuses on his productivity advisor, procurement strategist, and developer of future leaders roles.

This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.

Giles Breault
Posted by Giles Breault

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