In the tech industry, the volume of conversations about startups and entrepreneurship is right up there with those around remote work and pandemic-driven innovation. Some of us are expeditiously plotting to leave the 9-to-5 and take our talents to our home office full time; others are planning an ascent to the C-suite. And some of us like to straddle the fence by choosing to work a day job while doing side projects.
For those who haven’t decided one way or the other, another option is to try and get on with a company that offers intrapreneurship opportunities — the chance to move like an entrepreneur within the organization.
IPG-owned Kinesso is one of the organizations that’s working to find new ways to support employees who want to ideate and create outside their normal roles. In 2020, Kinesso launched TheEngine+, an in-house competition that empowers employees across the family of brands (Acxiom, Kinesso and Matterkind) to pitch ideas and develop them with funding and staff support. Yes, the competition benefits the company, but people can also turn it into a win for their career development.
How the competition works
Employees form a team around a business solution or product they want to create or update. The idea must fit into one of eight categories: activation, artificial intelligence/machine learning, audience, automation, design, innovation, planning or reporting. Team members present their idea to an executive judging panel, and the team with the winning proposal earns a cash reward, along with the capabilities, resources and time needed to launch the idea.
The impact of TheEngine+
TheEngine+ gives employees an opportunity to advance their personal career goals while adding value to the company. “It sets the tone that anyone within the company can impact the future of our business,” says Christine Ayuso, TheEngine+ program manager.
“It encourages innovation and unlocks creativity and opportunities.”
Ayuso worked closely with the custom solutions team to help build the portal where competition submissions were collected and ranked. In 2021, Kinesso opened submissions to employees outside the United States. “This doubled the engagement of the program from the initial launch. To name a few, we received submissions from Latin America, Germany and India,” Ayuso says. Since the 2021 competition wrapped, the company has been working with the winning team and finalists to find the best ways to progress their ideas.
If there are opportunities at your job to experiment or test ideas that align with your own interests and career goals, go for it. If not, it’s OK to look for other options that do, whether that’s another department, company or even another industry.