By Holly Riddle
The upcoming Conference on Intrapreneurship Employees as ChangeMakers sheds light on the many ways intrapreneurially-minded employees can benefit their organizations from within, while also showing employees how harnessing their intrapreneurial spirit is a fantastic opportunity to innovate, but without the risks that come with traditional entrepreneurialism. These are both concepts that students within the Penn State College of Engineering’s School of Engineering Design and Innovation, which is hosting the conference, already know well, particularly if they’re pursuing an entrepreneurship and innovation minor.
Masen Nartatez, who graduated in 2022, was one such student and he’s now using his intrapreneurial skills in his role as a flight test design engineer at Lockheed Martin in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“About a year into my experience at Penn State, I realized I wanted to do something in addition to my engineering major,” Nartatez explained. “That brought me to the technological innovation and entrepreneurship minor. I learned about how to run my own business and be innovative, but also to innovate within a company and use resources within a company to create new things, generate new ideas and find success.”
To Nartatez, being an intrapreneur as opposed to an entrepreneur is all about looking for and taking advantage of opportunities within the confines of one’s current employment. While an entrepreneur sees a need and then creates their own business to fill that need, an intrapreneur uses a company’s resources, funding and tools to innovate within and advance the company.
"If you truly want to innovate going forward, you can’t just set very bright people in a box. If you give them the freedom and controlled flexibility to try new things, it’s good for your bottom line and better for your work culture. People are going to be happier.”
During his time within the entrepreneurship and innovation minor program at Penn State, Nartatez said he developed a mental tool kit, through challenges that helped stretch his creativity and resourcefulness. It was an experience he said is ideal for students who want to innovate as future employees, but they’re not keen on the idea of starting and running their own business.
“It’s great for someone who has an entrepreneurial spirit, but they don’t want to start and maintain their own business from the ground up. They don’t want to deal with the financials, legal issues and possible debt. I know that was me. You have an entrepreneurial mindset, and you want to apply it to a job you love, where you have the opportunity to innovate, but the personal financial risk is significantly less,” he described.
The skills that Nartatez learned throughout the program, including the soft skills that compliment his technical skills as an engineering major, caught the eyes of recruiters, both when he was looking for internships and his post-college, full-time role. Today, he’s using his intrapreneurial savvy to actively make changes as a new Lockheed Martin hire.
“Lockheed Martin has programs … that allow you to seek funding for new ideas … I've taken advantage of some of those programs with other engineers I work with. We came up with an idea, we sought funding for it, we got that funding, we made the invention a reality and now it helps the company,” he said. The invention, he added, saves Lockheed Martin money in its manufacturing processes.
Having seen the value of intrapreneurship in his own career, Nartatez encourages employers to consider fostering intrapreneurship among their talent.
He said, “It’s a way for their company to innovate. I’ve heard of companies that really foster intrapreneurial spirit and they’ve had great success in letting their employees explore and capitalize on new ideas. If you truly want to innovate going forward, you can’t just set very bright people in a box. If you give them the freedom and controlled flexibility to try new things, it’s good for your bottom line and better for your work culture. People are going to be happier.”
For employers who want to make it happen, it all starts at the Conference on Intrapreneurship Employees as ChangeMakers, May 11.
The free conference will bring together small and medium-sized businesses to discuss the inclusion of intrapreneurship within their company cultures. Registration is limited to 80 attendees. RSVP NOW to save your spot. You can register here or at the QR code below. For questions, please contact Frank Koe, teaching professor, at email@example.com.