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Summit attendees tap into their 'intrapreneurial' spirit

Tuesday, October 6, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Dagmar Boggs of Coca-Cola, Ena Williams of 7-Eleven and Jill Sando of Target explored intrapreneurship at the NEW Leadership Academy supersession at NEW Summit 2015.

"Intrapreneurial” leaders find a need, take the lead and make things happen, according to three senior industry executives who offered their insights on intrapreneurship at the NEW Leadership Academy at the NEW Leadership Summit, Sept. 30, 2015.

Dagmar Boggs, president, 7-Eleven global customer team at The Coca-Cola Co.; Jill Sando, senior vice president, home at Target Corporation; and Ena Williams, senior vice president, international operations, 7-Eleven Inc., shared their personal experiences being — and supporting — intrapreneurs inside their companies. The session was facilitated by Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching.

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Intrapreneurs have a vision of things that others don’t see, such as a better way to serve a customer new or better products, processes or corporate structures or a new line of business, Miller said. Intrapreneurs have these seven traits: Credibility, the ability to build a coalition, willingness to challenge the status quo (looking for gaps or opportunities), creativity (able to brainstorm and innovate), conviction, ability to collaborate and courage.

"Risk-taking is critical today," Boggs told the crowd attending the session. "If I could go back to myself 20 years ago, I’d say 'Take more risks!' Early in my career, I was so focused and committed to doing what I was told to do. I had to grow into being a risk-taker. Some of the risks I took slapped me in the face and I fell down. But more often than not, they were successful. When I did get knocked down, I got up and tried again and was successful."

Part of being a successful leader is creating an environment for others to be intrapreneurs, Williams said. Earlier in her career, when she was heading a 7-Eleven division in California and the retail chain began focusing on fresh foods, the company held national meetings every two weeks to discuss in-field execution. "Once, I took [what was said in] the meeting and scrapped it. Instead, [I led] an innovation session and asked team members to bring a product idea from the field that was local and that we could sell in our stores. It resulted in a great idea that 7-Eleven stores could sell. Our bakery took the idea and created a new product and we rolled it out nationally."

Williams advised emerging leaders attending the NEW Leadership Academy to "get rid of that voice that says you aren't good enough — and say something. There's no worse feeling than sitting in a room and someone says something and you think, 'I had that idea! Why didn't I say something?"

Target's Sando, who calls herself "an idea accelerator," recalled taking a call from an entrepreneur with an idea for a line of school supplies that he hoped would create a revenue stream for school districts that needed money. He had no idea how to create the product or get it into stores. "I believed in this idea from day one and had the conviction to move forward," Sando said. "We needed to push it forward to have it designed and sourced."

Instead of looking at the work and hurdles in total, Sando said she broke the idea into a series of "sprints" and looked at what needed to be done to create the line of school products in time for back-to-school season. "Think of what needs to be accomplished in the next 30 days, instead of how to get to the end result, which could paralyze you."

Since the launching the Yoobi brand 18 months ago, Target has provided school supplies to 1 million children. "If you put your heart and soul behind something because it is right for your company and right for your team," Sando said, "you can make things happen."

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