3 Lessons I Learned as an Intrapreneur

January 22, 2019

When a door closes, a startup pivots, or when an idea fails to launch—it's rarely the end of the road. Carlos Leal shares how his startup history has helped him with a career at Ernst & Young. 

My name is Carlos Leal, and I am a management consultant at Ernst & Young. I serve clients by helping them unlock their business value by developing growth strategies while simultaneously protecting their organizations by managing risk.

My three biggest passions are entrepreneurship, education and technology. As an undergraduate student at SFU, I pursued experiences that allowed me to bring to life these three passions. On the academic side, I completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on Business Technology Management and Entrepreneurship & Innovation. As a volunteer, I founded a student organization (Simon Fraser Consulting) that helped me land my dream job in management consulting. It also bridged the gap between the consulting industry and SFU by giving other students the opportunity to also launch careers in this industry. Looking for ways to grow as an entrepreneur, I also worked with my brother on a business platform called Livetalent, which focused on helping small businesses connect with digital marketers to help them build their online presence and reach new customers. Although the business did not materialize, I realized that through my work in the corporate world, I could still be an intrapreneur and continue to pursue my passions.

As a professional, I have been actively engaged as an intrapreneur within EY and in the community. At EY, I have been applying the lessons learned from entrepreneurship to help develop creative solutions to address the complex challenges faced by my clients. I am also involved in numerous internal initiatives to help improve our employees’ experience and careers while at the firm and beyond. Outside the firm, I launched a non-profit venture called the Practical Education Program (PEP) in partnership with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. PEP connects entrepreneurs with students from post-secondary institutions to bring real-world problems to the classroom. While students complement their academic studies with practical experience, they also help entrepreneurs address their most pressing business challenges at no cost. My vision is to disrupt the education sector by developing an innovation ecosystem through which students, businesses and academic institutions can collaborate to inform our future business leaders on how to truly solve today’s challenges faced by industries in our communities.

Carlos Leal
Management Consultant at Ernst & Young
Venture Connection alumnus

Innovation is not just about creating something new, it’s about having the passion to address a pressing pain point.

Three main lessons learned from my experience being an intrapreneur:


1. Intrapreneurship is as much about purpose and impact as entrepreneurship.

Through my experiences as a consultant, I have discovered that to really enjoy what I do, I must have clarity about the vision and purpose for why I do it. Caring for those that I work with and realizing how my work makes an impact is what inspires me to continue thriving in what I do.


2. Innovation is not just about creating something new, it’s about having the passion to address a pressing pain point.

Through my experience working internationally and across-sectors, I am being equipped to bring new perspectives to my clients that they would not consider by looking only within their own sectors and markets. Working for others does not mean having to follow the status quo, it can also be about seeking experiences that challenge our ways of thinking and develop our abilities to approach problems in different ways. These experiences are what truly accelerate our professional growth and invigorate us to feel fulfilled with our careers.


3. Being an intrapreneur requires compromise, humility and leadership.

While as an entrepreneur I had the flexibility of deciding what a priority was, where and how I spent my time and who I approached for feedback; as an intrapreneur, I recognize that my environment is more constraint. As an employee, I have predefined targets, a structure to operate in, and I am surrounded by team members that I may not have chosen to work with but on whom I depend to achieve results. Being an intrapreneur requires compromise to align my own goals and passions with those of others. It is also about being humble to understand when and where is the right time to challenge the status quo. Lastly, it is about being self-motivated and accountable to see the end results. This usually involves being willing to run the extra mile alone, as there are usually few people willing to add on more to their plates than what they are expected to do.