When David Nosibor, Social Media Specialist at Mazars Paris, an audit/accounting consultancy
company, resigned to look for a new adventure, he didn’t expect that Mazars would call him back one month later to become an advocate for innovation and kick-start the transformation of the company culture in Singapore.
“I have been put in a position to shake things up in the traditional business I work at (audit, accounting) and foster innovation and entrepreneurship by being an intrapreneur myself”.
Mazars’ objective is to become more attractive for new talents. Indeed, the company intends to seize the trend that a growing number of potential future employees choose the start-up world over big corporates.
“By brainstorming with my former boss Pascal Jauffret and Tyra Malzy about what we could do, we came up with this problem statement: millennials represent almost 80% of our staff worldwide but we don’t really give them a chance to be vocal about what they would like to change and transform within the company. We also took into consideration the results of the Generation Y survey we ran internally: Gen Yers asked for more empowerment, innovation and sustainability”, explains David.
The #Mazarsforgood Innovation Challenge
To make the company more appealing to young talents and foster employee engagement, the team decided to launch the #Mazarsforgood Innovation Challenge, which is a competition enabling three teams of entrepreneurs to win US$20.000. There were 3 categories: how to better serve employees, society and the business world.
“We asked young aspiring entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to submit their ideas and video pitches to change companies for good: find innovative and sustainable ways for companies to serve their employees, society and the business world”, says David.
They received 75+ applications from 27 different countries. On June 1st, 10 finalists were chosen. They have been coached for the final pitch to be submitted before September 10th. Winners were announced on September 21st.
Mazars’ 10 finalists of the Innovation Challenge
This challenge is part of a long term strategy. “You just can’t transform the way a company operates overnight, it would be too pretentious to say so. However, you need to start somewhere and create a spark to change its culture”, analyses David.
The 3 winners of the Challenge are:
- Easy Green (Hong Kong) with a solution for stress relief and community building in the workplace through horticulture,
- Sheaply (France/Morocco), a crowdshipping platform,
- Toilets For All (South Africa) which provides a unique, all-in-one portable plastic eco-toilet design that is more durable, greener and healthier to use for impoverished families who do not have access to sanitary sewage disposal.
Being an advisory company, Mazars provided free advice during and right after the competition, then offered competitive rates afterwards: “We make sure we remain available to help them deal with the legal or accounting issues they face”.
They might also partner with one of them. “Mazars Hong Kong is providing accounting advice to Easy Green and even contemplating the use of Easy Green’s services in their own offices”. Such partnership would help the startup take their concept to the corporate world.
Mazars also support the start-ups with giving them access to their PR network. “Mazars in South Africa has provided assistance and helped Toilets for All create their trust foundation. We also got them PR coverage through our press and media contacts”.
Mazars’ Innovation Lab
This challenge led them to launch an Innovation lab pilot in Singapore last October. The Lab’s team was composed of 5 intrapreneurs who worked at the co-working space Impact Hub in Singapore every Friday for 8 weeks on a new online accounting service.
David learnt and got up to speed on the lean launchpad methodology by lean startup guru Steve Blank so that he could teach it to the team afterwards.
Two things came out of this experience: “participants loved it and partners were impressed with what the team developed in 8 weeks: an MVP ready to be tested with potential clients. It had multiple benefits for our organization in terms of employee engagement and innovation. Partners want to do it again.”
David highlights a very important success factor for such project: “This would not have been possible without the partners’ support. The trust factor here was paramount and getting management buy-in is certainly a must when starting such an initiative”.
The next intrapreneurial steps for the company in Singapore are to develop collaborations with startups that could benefit Mazars’ clients.