In the Lundquist College of Business, we know the entrepreneurial skillset brings value to the business landscape far beyond startups.
Some entrepreneurship students will go on to start their own company, but many others will instead bring the principles of entrepreneurship to effect positive change at existing firms.
To this end, Kate Harmon, program manager and director of cross-campus engagement for the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, designed MGMT 455, a senior capstone class for the entrepreneurship concentration.
Transferring aspects of the entrepreneurial toolbox to work within a company or corporation is called intrapreneurship, or innovating from within. To convey these principles through coursework, Harmon focuses on concepts and approaches like design thinking, lean manufacturing, and agile project management.
Another educational objective of MGMT 455 is to give students real-world experience. In the class, student groups act as consultancy firms to one of several partnering businesses from the Eugene/Springfield community. Partner companies present their needs to the class then student groups choose the project and company they feel best fit their area of interests and skills.
MGMT 455 also teaches the value of soft skills like intrapersonal communication, what expectations a company may have for a final project presentation, or how to fit into a corporate culture in an entry-level position.
“Some students have never had a real internship, or any kind of job,” Harmon said. “It allows them to firm up their resume right before they go onto the job market.”
One student that found success in MGMT 455 is Sarina Menashe, a class of 2019 graduate in business entrepreneurship and marketing with a minor in anthropology. Menashe has parlayed her experience in MGMT 455 into a position at Columbia Sportswear in Portland, where she also worked as an intern for a time.
Menashe uses the core tenets of intrapreneurship taught in MGMT 455 every day in her work life she said, calling them “tools that have become innate to me.”
“New ventures, new opportunities, new ways to do things. Getting something done with limited resources,” she said. “If it doesn’t work, turning around and making something new. That is a very valuable mindset to bring into any job.”
As a student in MGMT 455, Menashe and her group chose to work with Palo Alto Software. Palo Alto has been partnering with Harmon in MGMT 455 for three years, and the intrapreneurial frame of mind is very important for the company, said Peter Thorsson, director of business development and strategic partnerships.
What the Eugene-based software design company was looking for was a way to update a part of their business called Bplans.com.
“Our Bplans.com website is a free resource for anyone who is looking for information on starting a business,” said Thomas Subias, product manager on Palo Alto’s marketing team, and primary point of contact for Menashe’s team.
The centerpiece of the site is a vast resource of sample business plans, many of which were created some time ago before the emergence of such industries as ride-sharing or even food trucks. Bplans.com needed to be refreshed.
“What we tasked our team with is looking at where the market is today,” Subias said. What are the new or emerging industries that we’re not approaching correctly through this resource?”
What appealed to Menashe about the Palo Alto project was the combination of digital marketing, ecommerce, and data analytics.
“Hands-on skills I could leverage on a resume,” she explained. Menashe and her team gave Palo Alto a sort of calculator, a way to evaluate the success of a business plan, anticipating new, disruptive industries before they arise. What Menashe and her team developed for Palo Alto is in the company’s queue to be implemented.
Soft skills have also been valuable for Menashe, both in her project at Palo Alto and her in her experience at Columbia Sportswear.
“Being able to understand work culture, and adapt to work culture, those are things you get through experience, putting yourself out there, ” she said. “In my internship experience at Columbia I spent a lot of time networking. If you understand the culture that you’re in, it gives you a baseline.”
For students that have yet to graduate from the entrepreneurship program, Menashe said it’s important to expose themselves to new and things and new situations, and MGMT 455 was a valuable way to do just that.
“Find out what you like because inevitably that’s where you’re going to fit in and add value,” Menashe said.