Immersion in Innovation – CEMS magazine article

This article was originally published in the CEMS student organisation 2015 magazine (page 18) which has an audience of 1,200 students and 10,000+ alumni. It was part of an initiative to increase brand awareness of Salesforce among business students in Europe. It had to be on the topic of ‘intrapreneurship’, roughly 500 words long, from the perspective of an employee and show Salesforce and CEMS in a positive light. I interviewed a suitable employee, pitched the idea, got approval from both organisations and then ghostwrote the article.

The future of intrapreneurial activity is that everyone in every major company should be doing it. So says David Vincent, a CEMS alumnus (UCD/LSM) who works with Salesforce and is proud of his intrapreneurial role and the contribution that it makes both to the company and his own future.

Everyone at Salesforce is an intrapreneur. Working as a Business Development Representative at Salesforce’s Dublin headquarters means you have access to world-class training and the ability to leverage Salesforce’s powerful cloud infrastructure. Whether you’re suggesting a process change or attempting something more ambitious like I am, in building an app to increase people’s productivity, Salesforce has cultivated a supportive intrapreneurial environment.

The intrapreneurship project that I’m working on, Health-e, will help employees make the most out of their non-working hours by integrating time optimisation into their calendars and email. This means that they will be able to be more focused and productive with the time they do spend in the office. I work on this Health-e app it in my spare time, but I receive support, guidance, and advice from my manager and coworkers throughout the company.

I’m building the app using Heroku, Salesforce’s platform as a service (PaaS), which enables developers to build and run applications entirely in the cloud. It allows me to create personalised apps to help myself and my colleagues using skills I have gained during my time at Salesforce. My manager checks in with my Health-e app during our regular one-on-one meetings, my colleagues beta test it by integrating it with their own workload, and I can look up any Salesforce employee in our internal directory to ask them for advice. 

Helping employees to make better use of their free time makes them happier and more productive at work. Fostering a positive atmosphere of intrapreneurship by allowing employees the freedom to be creative has a similar effect: empower people to think outside the constraints of their day-to-day roles and they will respond by suggesting process improvements, coming up with great ideas and building useful tools.

I’m immersed in a culture of learning and innovation with creativity as a key element in my work environment. I’m surrounded by many creative people and each week we get a dose of inspiration through updates on the latest innovations taking place at Salesforce. By having this entire eco-system around me to draw inspiration from, it makes the process of launching my own new ideas much easier.

CEMS, along with the Smurfit Business School in Dublin, enabled me to develop the skills necessary to get where I am today. Most of all, it’s the spirit of innovation within CEMS, which entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs alike harness, that has stayed with me. It is this spirit which is important, rather than the success or failure of individual ideas. It drives me to be better at what I do and to continuously improve myself.

The other benefit from my CEMS experience is the networking. Many CEMS alumni have gone on to be entrepreneurs and their stories inspire me. Coindrum, a company that allows travellers to exchange different currencies for airport vouchers, is just one inspirational example, founded by a CEMS entrepreneur and very good friend of mine, Lukas Decker.

For me, working as an intrapreneur, Salesforce gives me the tools, knowledge and support to generate my ideas and build on them quickly, and then amplify their impact both inside and outside the company.

Of course, my day-to-day role will always come first, but I find I am able to be the master of my own career here. Skills I gain working on my intrapreneurial projects help me in my core role but also on my wider career journey: project management, time management, financial knowledge, customer relationship management and presentation skills, to name but a few.

Speaking from my own personal experience, the freedom to be an intrapreneur has meant I have become more motivated and more productive than ever in my core job.

Other companies could certainly learn from Salesforce’s open approach to intrapreneurship, an approach in which intrapreneurs add value to their organisation and which breeds innovation throughout the company.

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