DisruptHR Aberdeen – Igniting Innovation and Growth: Fostering an Entrepreneurial Mindset, Dr Yekemi Otaru

Why am I passionate about entrepreneurship? Well, it’s because I never saw myself as an entrepreneur until I was already in my mid-thirties. Now I wear several hats. I am an engineer. If you cut me open, I’m a marketer. I’m an entrepreneur. I love fashion. I had a small fashion brand for a while. I’m a chancellor. I’m creative. I’m analytical as well, and I’m also a writer. I think what I’ve done is embrace change. I’ve taken risks, and I’ve tried new things often in that employed scenario when I was employed. Past employers have encouraged me. They’ve allowed me to try my projects and experiment, which has been really valuable.

I’m no stranger to change. And if someone had told me about the change journey, I probably would’ve been scared off. But I had the support of businesses and I had the support of my managers. And over the last seven years, I’ve ended up launching three different businesses, and I’ve taken the opportunity. So being an employed person actually unlocked my entrepreneurial spirit, and it was while I was employed by someone that I was given the chance to try out things. You can imagine an engineer going into HR’s office and saying, “I want to move to marketing.” And it was like I said, I’ve grown a head at the side of my neck. But they encourage risk-taking. And a lot of entrepreneurial spirit came from that risk taken within an organization rather than out with that organization. I was encouraged to run my first social media advocacy project, and it ended up becoming a book.

And this was while I was employed by a company now called SLB. I was supported. I was given the funding to bring in an intern to help me with this project, and it ended up being a top 100 book in five categories online. So now I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m also an employer of people, and I’ve encouraged that sort of spirit as well within my team. So, for instance, we had a challenge around how we actually generate sales, and we put a team together, and this team identified some of the challenges that we were having within our process for generating sales. And this team was multiple different disciples. We had operations, we had finance, we had marketing. And by giving the team ownership, they were able to help us identify where the challenges were. Often you hear, “Come to me with solutions rather than problems,” but I actually think that for creativity and entrepreneurship, you have to encourage problem-finding as well.

And most entrepreneurial exploits come from finding a problem. So if you’re saying to people, “Don’t come to me with problems,” then you’re going to actually stifle that entrepreneurial mindset. That team of people identified different challenges within our sales process that’s now helped us shorten our sales cycle by 20%. And we’ve doubled our sales just by putting this multiple team together. So, if you don’t encourage this entrepreneurial mindset within your teams, you’ll end up actually dying a slow death. You have to innovate, and you do that through your employees. So, if you’re not encouraging this mindset, the chances are that the spirit is not in your organization, and gradually you will begin to become obsolete. So anyone who knows me knows that I love an acronym, and so I’m going to go through my acronym as soon as this slide goes to the next one.

So, S stands for spark an entrepreneurial mindset. So we’ve talked about encouraging people to be creative, creating an environment where they can try things and they can experiment. And I think this is probably the most important part of ensuring that you’ve got innovation growing in your organization. Also, think outside the box. If you have the mindset that we’re going to do what we’ve always done, then really, what we’re talking about is madness. If you’re doing what you’ve always done, and you’re expecting different outcomes, then that’s essentially madness. So use your employees to find those additional opportunities to grow. Adapt and embrace change. Don’t shy away from change and become really good at change management. Become really good at helping people go through that transition and that change curve where people might start from denial and grief and so on. Become really good at that.

And encourage risk taking. Create a safe environment where people can actually take risks, and they’re not afraid to fail. This creates growth for them, which ends up spinning onto your organization and your organization grows as well. And finally, team collaboration is everything. This is not about one person becoming a superhero and saving the day. It’s actually about a team of people coming together, bringing their creativity together and generating new ideas, experimenting, and ultimately making your organization more innovative. So START, make sure you start now from S-T-A-R-T, so that your organization can become more innovative through an entrepreneurial mindset.


See Yekemi delivering her presentation at DisruptHR Aberdeen here >>>> https://vimeo.com/876117056

More talks from DisruptHR Aberdeen here >>>> https://hunteradams.co.uk/blog/disrupthr-aberdeen/