The Growing Need for Social Intrapreneurs
By Kushaan Shah
The idea of entrepreneurship is glamorous for many; the prospect to create something out of nothing and be responsible for
your own success has gained more repute in the wake of start-up successes such as the social platform Pinterest and the virtual
Pawngo. In the world of social value, many seek to identify their own opportunities and be in charge of their own destiny for social
good. However, becoming a successful social entrepreneur is no easy feat. Even with an increase in entrepreneurship study programs
in many MBA programs laying out the “do’s and don’ts” of being an entrepreneur, many still succumb to the tribulations of the field
and fail in their social venture start-ups. There may still be a solution to fulfill your desire for social good without the day-to-day
struggles of entrepreneurship: Instead of being an entrepreneur, you can be an Intrapreneur.
What is an Intrapreneur?
Introducing social intrapreneurship. Nope, it’s not a typo. Intrapreneurs are individuals who align with a larger organization,
such as a corporation, and use their own entrepreneurial spirit to drive impactful change. Social intrapreneurs, in particular, are
abundant in many organizations. They are individuals who don’t make the news, yet work every day to infuse social innovation into
the daily routine of their business, showing that entering a conventional career path of a corporate employee does not necessarily mean
discarding your desire to do social good.
One such social intrapreneur is Accenture employee Ginu Chacko. With a goal in mind to encourage more Accenture
consultants to serve on boards for charity organizations, Chacko created a program that provides training on non-profit leadership
topics for his colleagues. . The program is slowly spreading and has already garnered interest from 20 executives at Accenture. The
most effective social Intrapreneurs work, like Chacko, on a micro scale and work on initiatives that are specialized and smaller in
style. Another famous example is IBM employee Kevin Thompson, who was fascinated by international development. It was this
commitment to his passion that prompted him to launch the IBM corporate service corps and inspire over 5,000 people at IBM to help
catalyze development in foreign countries.
So if you are interested in social good and driven to make an impact, but are frightened by the proverbial battlefield of
entrepreneurship, embrace the art of intrapreneurship! Increasingly more companies are looking for individuals with this spark. Jon
Pierce, a talent acquisition specialist at IBM, notes that socially driven individuals are viewed in high regard in the IBM hiring
process. Communities are more welcoming towards innovative companies, and companies are recognizing the value of that in the
So how can you become an intrapreneur in your next position? Whether you’re doing an internship or matriculating into a full
time position, the first step is to research your company, discover what it does, and assess where you can add value. Once you have a
goal in mind, “ask and you shall receive.” If you make your desires transparent to upper management, more people will be inclined to
get on board. Second, build relationships with other advocates. Expanding your network and finding other people passionate about
what you want to do can go a long way in the future success of your ideas, and your organization as a whole. Third, find some metric
to measure the change. Does a metric already exist? How is impact visible beyond the precincts of your desk cubicle? Ginu’s impact
was as simple as measuring how many individuals were placed onto non-profit boards after completing his training.
If you have the power to keep a proverbial flame going with more vigor, now is the time! Intrapreneurship is a growing trend;
learn what you can do with your company to make it the norm!