Corporate Entrepreneurs are Unsung Heroes

Innocentrix Corporate Entrepreneur Awards 2016 – Winners Announced

Entrepreneurial employees are those that think outside the box and dream up new possibilities. They have the experience and ideas on how to improve efficiencies and drive business value. They aren’t afraid to see the world in their industry differently.

Susan Foley, Executive in Residence at Babson College who teaches Corporate Entrepreneurship at Babson Executive Education, writes in her blog that Corporate Entrepreneurs (also Intrapreneurs) are:

“……the ones that are creating, building and delivering new value and growth in their organizations.  Often it is small pockets of employees that band together for a common goal based on a core set of beliefs that anything is possible. They ignore and work around organizational obstacles that get in their way. They push forward despite setbacks that would discourage or dissuade others from moving forward.”

Unfortunately, too many companies either fail to identify or recognise this crop of employees, or worse – stifle creativity all together leading to missed opportunities.

Employees that feel stifled are often the ones that leave and start their own businesses. Losing that kind of talent is something a company can’t afford to have happen.

So, how can companies ensure they’re identifying and harnessing the creativity of their internal entrepreneurs? Listen to this episode of the radio show ‘Breaking Banks where Spigit CEO, Scott Raskin share some insights, to find out.

It is clear that corporate entrepreneurs are pioneers! They are the underdogs, corporate rebels and mutineers that needs to be celebrated! At Innocentrix, we did just that recently. We think corporate entrepreneurs are doing great things and we want to recognise them, their achievements and their tenacity, so that we can see more of it!

This is what we did.

Innocentrix Corporate Entrepreneur Awards 2016

We asked participants at our annual Innovation Live conference to submit nominations and then selected the winners through a public voting and validation process. In order to qualify submissions, we put the following criteria forward:

A Corporate Entrepreneur is someone (or a team) who:

  • Created wild, new processes, or new value in an already established organisation.
  • Used existing resources in an innovative way or consistently explored new avenues, without looking for excuses.
  • Unapologetically created new stuff that are competitive and have a track-record of sustainability.
  • Acted as pioneer, champion or lead-figure, by inspiring and leading others to action change – creating a culture of innovation.
  • Almost habitually led new ventures for the organisation, or implemented ideas that changed core business strategies.

From all of the nominations received, these were our winners:

Winner – Darren Hampton, General Manager: CRM, Ster Kinekor

Darren Hampton - CE Winner - Aug2016

Darren receives his award from Zander.

Darren was nominated for his approach to extract more value from his customer base, embarking on significant disruption to the status quo, upon a platform of lean innovation. This included system and process re-engineering, value proposition enhancement, repositioning of the brand as well as collaboration with partners that would be initially perceived as competitors for spend.

Darren believes innovation is key in order to stay competitive. Non-traditional competitors are entering the market through the development of new technologies and are presenting new choices to customers on a daily basis.

He says “the ability to ask the right questions is paramount to create clarity in an uncertain world. You need to have a deep understanding of your customer’s needs to deliver new value.”

The changes implemented by Darren have resulted in commercial gains, an entire new go-to methodology for the business overall, as well as increased positive engagement from customers. Suffice to say, Darren was an innovation samurai in a turbulent retail climate, and his courage has paid off.

Runner-up – Cassim Motala, Specialist: RMB Ventures, Rand Merchant Bank

Cassim Motala - CE Runner Up - Aug2016

Zander hands Cassim the runner-up award.

Cassim seeks to consistently change the game with his vision, his understanding of business, his integrity and his drive for innovation. He has been part of significant investments in established industries in South Africa, and he has also pioneered innovative investment and structuring strategies into East Africa that have resulted in the RMB Ventures team investing in businesses within that region.

In the world of private equity, the key challenge is to find deals at the right price, with the right risk-adjusted-return profile alongside good management teams. The RMB Ventures team manage investment portfolios across Africa and according to Cassim, portfolios differ significantly from region to region. In South Africa, for example, RMB Ventures are traditional private equity players whereas in the Rest of Africa, RMB Ventures tends to have a much more flexible investment approach.

Cassim believes that “You need to be able to both innovate and adapt. In South Africa the investment culture is sophisticated and mature whereas in other regions you need to be more innovative and even experimental. Your adaptability to work in different situations will ultimately determine your success.”

Cassim predicts shifts in economic plates, and adjusts strategy accordingly, consistently asking the hard questions surrounding RMB’s culture of innovation which has seen the brand successfully propel itself beyond market uncertainty.

Innocentrix congratulates both Darren and Cassim for taking responsibility for growth and change in their organisations and wish them well with their future ventures. Check back here soon for more detailed information on what they did and how it made a difference in their respective organisations.

We would like to invite everyone to join us in celebrating the unsung heroes that are constantly driving and inspiring innovation and change in corporate South Africa. Follow us for more information on how to take part and nominate those rebel corporate entrepreneurs in your organisation for next year’s Corporate Entrepreneurship Awards taking place at InnoLive 2017.