Last week, in The Future of America Part 1 we discussed the importance and influence of the entrepreneurs in this country. However, there is another side of the coin, one that is just as important of a sector in the labor market. As far as I know, no statistic identifies this significant portion of the workforce. These are the employees who are the self-starters within businesses, large and small, who work harder and achieve more than their peers. These employees within a firm or large organization are referred to as “intrapreneurs”.
Intrapreneurs are rarely recognized outside their local peer groups for their outstanding work and commitments. But no business, especially large national firms cannot compete without a strong core of intrapreneurs in their workforce. CEO’s of large companies receive much attention and typically the focus of class warfare. However, many of these CEO’s in their younger years started their careers in lowly positions in corporate America. However, as an intrapreneur, they arrived at work early, stayed late, identified needs and provided solutions to improve their employer’s company. They are motivated by a sense of purpose to make a difference and as a result, simply out work their peers to earn promotions of more responsibility.
Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford is an example of a successful intrapreneur. Mulally graduated from the University of Kansas, with Bachelor of Science (1968) and the following year with Master of Science degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. Hired by Boeing right out of college he worked hard for the company that resulted in many promotions in engineering and program management positions. He contributed to the designs of Boeing 727, 737, 747, and 767 aircraft. After 20 years with Boeing, he was appointed in 1989 as Vice President – Engineering on the new 777 aircraft project.
However, another aspect of intrapreneurs is they are not complacent. Hard work and commitment must be rewarding or its time to look for a new employer. Searching for a new professional home is precisely what Mr. Mulally did after being passed over the CEO position in early 2006, the same year that Aviation Week & Space Technology named him as the person of the year (1). In September 2006 (not much moss grows under his feet) he was named President and CEO of Ford Motor Company even after Mr. Mulally was quoted earlier that year saying his Lexus LS430 was the “finest car in the world” *oops*. His leadership and impact on Ford have been significant in which Ford was the only major auto manufacturer that did not receive government subsidy during the financial crisis in 2008. In May 2009, Ford Chairman William Clay Ford, who hired Mulally, said that “Alan was the right choice [to be CEO], and it gets more right every day” (2).
Mulally’s eventually retired in 2014 with a salary in excess of $20,000,000 with annual stock and option awards. But as the company’s CEO, he was still one of the hardest working employees. He arrived at Ford’s global headquarters in Dearborn every day at 5:15 am and rarely left before 5:00 pm (that’s a 12 hour day). He is not alone, because every Thursday morning at 7:00 am he met with Ford executives for their weekly Business Plan Reviews.
I stated in the previous issue that the future of the US economy is dependent on more people choosing to “earn a living.” Don’t be fooled into thinking big reward is exclusive to big risk. Intrapreneurs have the ability to shape the future of America just as entrepreneurs do!
If you have any questions or remarks, let us know in the comment section below!
- Mecham, Michael; Velocci Jr., Anthony L. (2006-12-31). “Alan R. Mulally is AW&ST’s Person of the Year”. Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- Kiley, David (2009-05-11). “The New Heat On ” Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved 2010-03-05.