Beyond beanbags and foosball tables

What does it really mean to be an entrepreneur? The term has long been associated with individuals who venture out on their own, building businesses from scratch, going through cycles of success and failure, hope and despair. It’s never easy to start or run your own business, which is why there are certain characteristics that make them stand out – courage, resilience, creativity, ownership, risk-taking – just to name a few. However, there’s also no reason why the rest of us, especially the ones working as employees in larger organisations, can’t adopt a similar mindset even if we are not running our own company.

With digital transformation accelerating at unprecedented speeds across entire industries, big organisations are in an even tighter race to stay ahead of the curve. Speed, agility, innovation and collaboration are now the new SOPs. These alone, however, may still not be enough.

In the same way organisations are building the company, employees should be building themselves to adapt to change in a technologically-driven environment. 'Occupreneur Coach’ Lindsay Broder argues that everyone ‘should’, rather than ‘could’, start thinking like an entrepreneur if they wanted a more fulfilling life. To paraphrase a point in her article Why You Don't Have to Be an Owner to Be an Entrepreneur, “You always work for yourself and you are already your own boss even when you’re working in a large organisation.”

At a recent event hosted by Maxis as part of its Inspire Series, Adzhar Ibrahim, head of people & organisation at Maxis, spoke more about the entrepreneurial mindset.

There are probably more ways than one to define ‘Entrepreneurship’. What does it mean to Maxis?

To us, being entrepreneurial means taking ownership of whatever tasks you’re responsible for. This is why we encourage our employees to go beyond their job scope, to challenge themselves and to dare to try different, unconventional things.

We can certainly draw inspiration from early entrepreneurs – those who took the risks in starting their own company. What gave them the push to venture out into seemingly unchartered waters? What kind of mindset did they need to help them succeed? There could be a variety of reasons. Silicon Valley’s success, for example, was driven by "an open-minded and diverse population that readily shares information, encourages experimentation, accepts failure and dispenses with formality and hierarchy", according to tech entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa.

These characteristics, while typically associated with start-ups, are no different from what we expect from our people at Maxis. We empower them to explore new ideas that will benefit not only the company, but their own personal development.

There’s more to entrepreneurship than bean bags and foosball tables. We see it as an attitude. It’s how you think, how you act. It’s about taking ownership and seeing things through.

What kind of support does Maxis provide to ensure that employees inculcate this mindset?

It’s never easy to instil the ‘entrepreneur’ mindset in a traditionally big company, especially when there are rigid guidelines or decision-making processes already in place. But the advantage of building such a mindset within large organisations is that you suddenly open up a new source of energy, passion and motivation. This is why Maxis provides the necessary tools such as Lynda (online video tutorials), SmartUp (peer-to-peer knowledge sharing platform), and support such as job rotation opportunities, scholarships and loans – to help create an environment where people feel empowered and unleashed from the usual corporate constraints.

Tell us more about the Maxis Inspire Conference Series.

We started the Maxis Inspire series for those who always wanted to shake things up at work, bring ideas to life, or create an impact on society. We wanted to create a platform that can offer first-hand insights from entrepreneurs and exposure on how an entrepreneurial mindset can impact one’s career, company or the community.

The series also help participants understand how companies use digitalisation, big data, and new ways of working to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset, while expanding their network by interacting with other aspiring entrepreneurs. They have the chance to get up close and personal with some of the top corporate and start-up leaders.

The latest conference series was held in March this year – how did that pan out?

Maxis Inspire 2018, themed ‘Making Entrepreneurship a Way of Life’, was the second of our series in which we hosted a line-up of inspirational speakers from both established companies and start-ups who shared their entrepreneurial journeys, including the success (and challenges) they had achieved in their respective fields. We connected proactive, ambitious individuals with some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs in Malaysia. Successful individuals from the corporate and start-up worlds also shared their stories on how having a relentless entrepreneurial mindset made them champions in their fields, and how realising their ideas made an impact on their work and society.

The one-day event drew 80 young participants comprising students, fresh graduates and working professionals who were given the opportunity to discover what it took to achieve this mindset shift. They were also able to apply what they learnt at a workshop on problem solving and communicating solutions to relevant stakeholders.

There’s more to come, and we’re always looking forward to what’s next.

Quote by participant: Ajmal Khan, Head of Business Solutions at Datacom

“I thought the session was really good. It provided good insights on how the entrepreneur mindset works. The concept of entrepreneurship is not so much about starting a business, but about finding a solution to a problem and then applying it by using that ‘entreprenuerial mindset’ to drive execution. I particularly liked the design thinking workshop because we got a really concise version of how the whole process worked and to go through these processes in the short time that we had.”

To see what happened at Maxis Inspire 2018, watch our video. To find out more on how Maxis encourages entrepreneurship, visit our Careers page, or follow us on LinkedIn.