As the president of AdPredictive, a next generation software company, I recently decided to join the Forbes Technology Council. For my first piece, I explored the lens I used when considering my next move after 23 years of executive leadership at Viacom.
In “Going From Enterprise Executive to Start Up President? Velocity and Focus Are Your New Normal (Forbes.com),” I explore several considerations other executives should take before making the decision to do the same. The link above has the full content, but here is some additive color on why I found AdPredictive so special and ultimately joined the company’s executive team.
Navigating the move from enterprise executive to startup president is not for the faint of heart. However, for successful intrapreneurs, the disruptive nature of startups can be cathartic.
In my final enterprise role as COO, I oversaw revenue, strategy and operations for a nearly $2 billion portfolio. Throughout my 23 years at the company, I launched, grew, and transformed numerous businesses. My tenure could be best summed up as that of an intrapreneur identifying white space, or opportunity, then building a business to seize it.
An intrapreneur at a major corporation and an executive at a startup may seem like they have more differences than similarities, but experience in the former helps inform the latter. Intrapreneurs who have successfully incubated “disruption” inside an established company are often best suited to then leave big companies for startups.
For executives considering doing the same, this move is white space rife with opportunity. Here’s how to take advantage of it.
Know Your ‘Why’: One year in, I know that despite the differences between the two worlds, my desire to be part of a company leading a market movement is my “why.” And the velocity, matched with a rigorous focus, is what I need at this stage of my career.
Find Your Who: I was introduced to a fellow startup advisor and mentor. We shared similar industry observations, and I found myself excited about his market vision, company and approach. I joined his board without hesitation. Months later, he approached me about becoming more directly involved with the business.
Access Your Industry Expertise: If I was going to leave a global enterprise for a start-up, it had to be the right one. Soon after joining the board, I realized my new company had built actual solutions for problems I had on the enterprise side. I could leverage my industry expertise to help the company execute its product vision, accelerate time to market and deliver quality solutions.
Executives must self-assess how deep and how broad their industry knowledge is. Do you fully understand the ecosystem and how you can help a startup impact, and potentially lead, that industry? Can you bring market vision, build strategic partnerships, drive maturation in existing products, expand the book of business, develop talent, deepen customer relationships, or create operational efficiencies to enable faster growth?
Fight Through Ambiguity: My years of intrapreneurship were an advantage. I continuously recalibrate my approach to operational efficiency, as working with limited resources forces me to ensure I am creating value at every turn.
Create Value: My collective career experience within both large, and now smaller environments, enables me to ensure that value is delivered with each partner interaction. I focus on creating opportunities for collaborations, not transactions.
Get Accustomed To The New Normal: Velocity and focus are my new normal. I create more with less, fast and with laser focus on impact.
Startups can accomplish more in weeks than a large company could accomplish in years, if at all. Recently, when I returned from two weeks of travel, my company had created machine learning algorithms for a new automated client-facing solution. That generally couldn’t happen at a larger organization in that amount of time.
My prediction: as more disruptive intrapreneurs join visionary entrepreneurs, we will see even more outsized impacts on the market.