Equipment Leasing & Finance
Executive Perspective

Building Visionary Leaders Through Intrapreneurship

Nov/Dec 2021

MartinKlotzmanQ&A with incoming Emerging Talent Advisory Council Chair Martin Klotzman

As equipment finance companies seek to attract and retain the next generation of employees, ELFA’s Emerging Talent Advisory Council is leading critical conversations on this topic. EL&F Magazine caught up with Martin Klotzman, incoming Chair of ETAC, to discuss the committee’s ELFA Annual Convention breakout session, “Avoid Being the Next Blockbuster: Embrace Intrapreneurship.” 

Q: What is Intrapreneurship? 
Intrapreneurship is a corporate management practice that encourages employees to act like entrepreneurs within an established company. Employees are given the autonomy to work on special projects and explore policies, technologies or applications that will improve their company’s performance. Sometimes those special projects become a new product, business section, department or subsidiary. 

Many of the products and services that we rely on everyday were created by intrapreneurs whose employer fostered a culture of creativity and innovation. For example, Google supports its employees becoming intrapreneurs by encouraging them to allocate between 10% and 20% of their time to “passion projects” that could benefit the company. Some of these successes are Gmail, Google News, Google Maps and AdWords. 

Amazon Prime was created by a group of employees who believed customers would pay more for an “exclusive” membership that offered two-day delivery. The Sony PlayStation was a side project of an employee who would later become the company’s Chairman and CEO. The Post-it Note was created by a 3M employee who needed a bookmark that would stick without damaging the pages. 

The list goes on and on. 

Q: Why is the Emerging Talent Advisory Council highlighting this topic? What makes an effective intrapreneur? 
The Emerging Talent Advisory Council is highlighting intrapreneurship because it is an effective way of developing younger professionals into future, visionary leaders. 

Intrapreneurship gives emerging talented employees who have a flair for innovation a chance to thrive. Truth be told, not everyone has the resources and stability to pursue their ideas and dreams, or the capacity to take big risks. For example, if you have a family to support, leaving a secure job to build a start-up might not be possible. In contrast, most established companies have the variety of resources intrapreneurs need to succeed so they do not have to take on the personal risk that entrepreneurs do. Those resources can include access to infrastructure, capital, technology and customers. 

There are many ways to become an effective intrapreneur, but every intrapreneur must focus on evolving their organization from the inside out. This means looking within your own area of expertise as a starting point to seek innovative solutions to the problems around you. 

Q: Why should equipment finance leaders take this topic seriously?
Equipment finance leaders should take this topic seriously because intrapreneurship among young professionals can provide a means of keeping talented people motivated and loyal, and because equipment finance firms must digitize—and digitize quickly—to stay competitive. It’s the intrapreneur who can make that happen. 

Since I first joined this industry in 2014, embracing innovation and adopting a technology-oriented mindset to both mitigate the threat of outside competition and prepare for the next generation has been a recurring discussion among ELFA members. During these seven years, especially in the past 18 months, I have witnessed an entire industry digitize their infrastructure. Nonetheless, industry leaders should keep asking themselves, “What more can I do to remain competitive and achieve continued success, and how can I use intrapreneurship as a vehicle to secure that result?”

An organization is all about its people. The best people need to feel that they are in control of their careers and have the opportunity to develop a broad set of skills. In a world full of change and uncertainty, intrapreneurs have the ability to drive growth, leapfrog the competition and empower the business to succeed for another generation. 

ELFA established ETAC in 2014 to encourage industry professionals to get involved in the association early in their careers and to attract the best and brightest to the industry. If you’d like to get involved in ETAC’s 2022 initiatives, including regional networking events, the annual EMERGENCE leadership development conference and more, visit the Emerging Talent page at

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