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Recap: Intrapreneurship Panel Debate


On Tuesday, enterprise students attended our second panel discussion for this semester themed around intrapreneurship. The students were challenged to think about the meaning of intrapreneurship, entrepreneurship and innovation. Dr Stephen King was joined by four panellists; Kat Palmer, Dr Taz Aldawoud, Tom Allchurch, and Peter McAteer.

Ideas and innovation is a team sport. – Kat Palmer

Intrapreneurship is about acting entrepreneurially within a large organisation. It includes the idea of risk-taking but also the motivation that comes from the organisation for its employees to be entrepreneurial.

A student asked who owns the ideas that intrapreneurs come up with. Peter replied that usually the organisation has legal ownership of the intellectual property rights and the copyrights. Taz added that there is negotiation when it comes to this; everybody has ideas but it’s about having the resources and the perseverance to pursue them. Kat believes that ideas and innovation is a team sport and she emphasised the importance of linking ideas to the user or customer. Tom talked about entrepreneurs encouraging the flow of new ideas from their teams, highlighting that as you grow a business you are looking for the next generation of ideas.

Everybody has ideas but it’s about having the resources and the perseverance to pursue them. – Dr Taz Aldawoud

L-R: Peter McAteer, Dr Taz Aldawoud, Kat Palmer, Tom Allchurch, and Dr Stephen King.

On how companies can encourage employees to be more entrepreneurial, panellists shared some of their experiences. Kat mentioned that at Emerald Publishing, where she works, the employees are given half a day per week for their professional and personal development which for Kat is the time she comes up with new ideas. Kat also suggests giving people the opportunity to explore other jobs within an organisation through mentoring, job sharing or secondments as a way of exploring the organisation as well as the role you play within in. Tom proposed getting the message out there that ideas are welcomed in a medium-sized organisation, but in bigger he argued that it’s about having the right procedures in place and leading from the front in a certain way that encourages change and new ideas. Taz added that looking at other industries may prove beneficial in coming up with solutions to problems. He also advocates that no idea is silly and no idea should be dismissed. 

It has to come from within – if you have a compelling idea that won’t let you go, then follow it – Peter McAteer

The panellists were asked to provide some advice from what they learned from their own failures. Kat highlighted once again the importance of users and mentioned that they are fundamentally an organisation’s biggest asset from buying its products and services, to giving feedback and understanding the environment around them. Tom talked about transparency to your employer, your stakeholders and your employees to avoid losing people’s trust. He also stated that if something is going wrong, you need to be open about it and get the people around you to help you fix it. Taz realised during his career that he was upsetting people by exposing problems and instead he learned to consider the feelings of others and not just race towards change but also take people along to that journey.

Entrepreneurship - it’s about ideas, making things happen, creating opportunities and employment. – Tom Allchurch

Peter closed the panel discussion concluding that intrapreneurs have training wheels on, but entrepreneurs don’t and the critical difference is the risk management that comes with entrepreneurs – they are the risk assessors.