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Class act: Patel is turning executives into 'intrapreneurs'

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Mukesh Patel, a serial entrepreneur, is the founder of JuiceTank in Somerset.
Mukesh Patel, a serial entrepreneur, is the founder of JuiceTank in Somerset. - ()

The difference between an entrepreneur and a corporate executive might just start with the long-windedness of a person's title.

Sanjay Sengar, associate director of global manufacturing and supply and global serialization IT program owner at Bristol-Myers Squibb, falls pretty obviously into the corporate executive camp.

Sengar, however, has learned to think more like an entrepreneur than anything else, 15 years into a career in which he worked his way up the ranks at an international pharmaceutical corporation.

It’s a bridging of the gap between entrepreneurship and corporate life — termed “intrapreneurship” — that he became versed in through a short-term course he took called Innovation for Corporate Enterprises at Rutgers Business School.

The course, which fits under the Mini-MBA program at Rutgers, was spearheaded by Mukesh Patel, an adjunct professor and a serial entrepreneur (who, among other things, founded JuiceTank, a business incubator and co-working space in Somerset).

“Consulting with various organizations, (I found) through conversations with corporate executives and management teams that larger corporations really needed frameworks for how to go about innovation and disruption while avoiding becoming irrelevant,” Patel said. “So, I designed this creative new course based on intrapreneurship, or applying entrepreneurship fundamentals into large corporate organizations.”

Patel recruited corporate experts and some other faculty members at Rutgers in developing the five-day course, which just launched this year. For about two years, Patel had been teaching another interdisciplinary entrepreneurship course at Rutgers that he imported some concepts from.

Adopting the language of entrepreneurs, concepts such as ideation, disruption and growth hacking are transformed in the course into different methods of achieving company goals, such as effective corporate cultures or good business models.

The course culminates with everyone making a presentation about a new project or plan to be implement in their company and how it can be approached through the frameworks they learned, Patel said.

For Sengar, the value of big-idea entrepreneurial approaches wasn’t just in coming up with more innovative solutions, but also how to go about selling those ideas inside a corporation.

“(I wanted) an opportunity to keep myself abreast with the new ideas and trends,” Sengar said. “(It also) provided me with the tools to implement some of the ideas to my current project in the pharmaceutical industry. I plan to apply the lessons on intrapreneurship to sell innovative solutions to problems internally within my company.”

The course is advertised to C-suite executives, managers and directors from various corporate backgrounds, some of whom may already have their MBAs.

Those who have taken the course have represented a mixture of industries, Patel said. There’s also diversity in where they come from, as the course has been attended by private sector consultants from abroad and foreign government leaders.

“And that’s good, because the participants get the benefit of different lenses and perspectives,” Patel said.

The one-off course has proved successful enough in a trial to possibly expand it into a portfolio of weeklong workshop-style courses.

“We’ll looking to bring a portfolio of new courses under this framework,” Patel said. “I’m already working with someone to design a new course concept on bringing a business idea to the marketplace.”

Patel stresses that the situation is right for the type of executive he’s mapping out.

“Change, due to technology, is happening at an accelerated pace,” he said. “So corporations see that they need new ways of thinking, new ways of approaching business models.”

E-mail to: brettj@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @reporterbrett

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