We Love Intrapreneurs: what happens afterwards?
Rolled out in late 2018, “We Love Intrapreneurs” continues to inspire a growing number of people across Safran. The principle behind the intrapreneurship program is to encourage employees to identify new value-added products and services and help them deliver their projects following a stringent selection process – startup style! As the fifth season is about to get underway, we wanted to see what impact the initiative has had on the careers of earlier winners. Two former intrapreneurs share their experiences and tell how they got back into a ‘normal’ working life.
Laurent Miralles (37) was part of the Run[waiz] team, one of the winning projects in the first season. Run[waiz] is a web service that provides real-time analysis and forecasting of airport runway conditions to facilitate maintenance. Combining a new product with a new customer, the project ticked all the innovation boxes! A former head of R&T projects at Safran Nacelles, Laurent says diving into the world of intrapreneurship was a “fantastic experience and probably the best professional choice I’ve ever made.”
However, after 18 months on the project, he decided to leave. “Intrapreneurship is a full-on job, and I found it hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance,” he explains. “Plus, like in all teams, not everyone necessarily agrees on strategic choices. It was a tough decision, I have to admit, but I don’t regret it. I’m delighted that Run[waiz] is continuing its success story at Safran Landing Systems and I’m still in touch with the rest of the team.”
Close support from HR
Marc Perrin, Materials & Processes engineer at Safran Transmission Systems, was on the SmartCast(1) project team, the other winner in the first year. Their innovative idea was to optimize the aluminum parts casting process. Marc pulled out of the team in November 2020. He explains why: “It was a really motivating project. It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, while building on my experience from my previous role.”
However, after getting through the first stop/go(2) milestone, the project was stopped after a year of support from the We Love Intrapreneurs in-house accelerator (also known as the Safran Innovation Booster). “The solutions we’d come up with so far weren’t deemed good enough,” says Marc. “And on top of that, we hadn’t managed to build strong team dynamics, which are crucial to the success of any project. We conducted experience feedback among ourselves and with other intrapreneur teams, and then started preparing our next career move.”
Laurent and Marc benefitted from support from Safran corporate HR, the entity which oversees the Booster. Their profiles were spotlighted and promoted. They also activated their own networks, which had grown thanks to the new contacts they made when working as intrapreneurs.
Intrapreneurship – a big boost for your resume
Within a month, Laurent had landed himself a new job. He joined the R&T prototyping department at Safran Electronics & Defense in Massy in July 2021 and has since been appointed head of the team (in September 2022). “My intrapreneurship experience was a great bonus for my application. It shows I’ve got a strong level of versatility and self-reliance and that I’m marketing and business minded. These were clinching factors for my future manager. The prototyping department operates a bit like a startup itself: the pace is fast, new concepts have to be tested quickly, so we need to be agile. It’s an excellent career change after the intrapreneurship!”
Marc meanwhile was offered a role as internal auditor at Safran SA in April 2021. Despite what it seems, this change of direction fits with his experience as an intrapreneur. “The intrapreneurship project gave me an insight into non-technical fields – and the desire to tackle more business and strategy related issues. That’s precisely what’s involved in my new auditing role. I think the intrapreneurship played a big part in me getting this job, because it showed that I’m willing, curious and adaptive.”
Laurent and Marc’s testimonials illustrate that intrapreneurship not only provides an invaluable opportunity to those involved to significantly enhance their technical and personal skills, it can also give your career a huge boost. So, if you’ve got an idea for an innovative project, take the plunge and submit an entry to the next season of the We Love Intrapreneurs program!
(1) Initially called Aluminum Casting 4.0. (2) Stop/go are periodical reviews during which internal investor-sponsors (company CEOs) decide whether or not to allow the project to continue.