Game Changers

Hiring those with 'energy and talent' key to promoting internal innovation: Game Changers forum

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 June, 2015, 10:46am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 June, 2015, 11:34am

Hiring the right people is one of the most important factors in promoting an innovative internal culture in major corporations, attendees at the second South China Morning Post Game Changers forum heard on Thursday.

In a panel titled "Introducing entrepreneurship mentality to promote intrapreneurship in organisations", speakers agreed that corporations must diversify and hire people from non-traditional backgrounds if they want to inculcate a culture of disruption and experimentation.

"Corporations are having to find new ways to meet new customer demands and the pressure to innovate is very high," said Natascha Jacobovits de Szeged, partner with executive search firm Egon Zehnder.

Creating an environment where innovation can occur within a huge organisation can be difficult however, she added, particularly at public companies more used to focusing on short term stock goals. "Innovation is a long term game."

One means by which corporations can promote innovation is to build "teams of diverse people with diverse backgrounds", said Robert Jesudason, a senior executive with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

"When you give them permission and a platform, people are capable of doing amazing things," said Steve Monaghan, head of the Edge innovation unit at insurance giant AIA.

Andrew Connell, head of digital, Asia Pacific at HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management, said that his team is "always pulling in pools of talent from outside the industry to try and speed that change".

Bringing in talented, inspirational individuals can help invigorate existing staff members to broaden their scope of thinking and pursue more innovative solutions, Monaghan said.

"There's an enormous amount of latent talent often within organisations," he said.

"[Management] needs to give them the latitude and creative capacity to go for it."

Some of the best ideas can often come from those staff members on the front line, who may have an entirely different view of the organisation and its challenges and failures to senior management, said Jesudason.

Connell compared the challenge of hiring the right people today to the start of the internet age, when there was no one with a great deal of experience, and companies instead focused on hiring those with "raw energy, raw talent, and an idea to do things differently".