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Episode 6: Maria Odiamar Racho, MSOD – The continued evolution of the Intrapreneur at The Allstate Corporation


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If you have ever considered being an entrepreneur, but didn’t move forward, perhaps due to the risks or just not wanting to leave your current job, then this episode is for you?  If you’re a manager of people that has ever thought “how do I tap into the entrepreneurial spirit within the people on my team,” then this episode is for you as well.

On this episode, I link up with Maria Odiamar Racho, an Organizational Effectiveness Practice Lead at Allstate Corporation, where she specializes in culture, strategy, change, complex systems, and networks.  She is the founder of two Employee Resource Groups, the Allstate Asian American Network (3AN), and Intrapreneurs@Allstate (I@A).

During our conversation we discuss Intrapreneurs.  The intrapreneur, just like the entrepreneur of a small business, is the driving force behind their idea and vision, as well as a source of continuous innovation for organizations.  Maria shares a behind the scenes look at the Allstate journey.

Key Highlights
Intrapreneurs @ Allstate [0:00]

  • We level set on the definition of an Intrapreneur with Maria readily providing an example. A person may be an accountant with the company by day.  However, they see an opportunity in sales that no one else does, they have a passion for it and they are willing to put in the extra effort to make it come to life.  Therefore, they step forward and raise their hand to become an Intrapreneur.
  • Maria shares Allstate’s Road to Intrapreneurship, which began with some research for a client where she uncovered that Lean Start-up and agile practices were evolving and further, that development practices that were human-centered, feedback-centered and iterative were the most empowering.  She became an advocate for testing this inside the company.
  • During the early stages of implementing this employee network group, Maria and team experienced resistance, but they embraced many of the underlying intrapreneurship practices (e.g. agile methodology, etc.) to see if it could, in fact, have life within AllState or if it would simply remain a small group.  Over time this group has grown to over 450 members.

How does this practically work and fit with the organizational construct as a tool for leaders? [ 7:15]

  • The team has worked to deliver a number of self-service tools such as a Wiki, etc., to allow people to have access to information.  This is key as leaders have seen people accessing the information and bringing forth more well-thought-out ideas.
  • They have created two main venues to bring ideas forward, a start-up challenge and their own internal Shark Tank (Spark Tank).
  • Leaders have seen the empowerment and the ability to “tap into the brilliance” across the organization through intrapreneurship.

If you are a person who wants to be an Intrapreneur, how do you implement Intrapreneurship within your organization? [12:00]

  • First and foremost, you must ensure that your primary role is, in fact, the first priority and is done very well.
  • Second, when this is presented, it cannot be viewed as a distraction, but must be seen as a supplement, further building to the first point.
  • Third, understand that where you start may not be where you end as intrapreneurship could be the role of the future.

The signs of success [14:30]

  • As previously mentioned, the core team, sponsors and leaders are seeing people use the resources, participate in the channels and develop their skills.  Further, while still relatively early in their journey (three years), Maria mentioned that three ideas were selected for funding in their last Spark Tank.

The Community outside of Allstate [16:30]

  • Innov8rs conference:  Participants from many companies and various functions within those companies (e.g. sales, business development, marketing, etc.).

What problems is Intrapreneurship solving [18:00]

  • While it wasn’t their target, Allstate has found that a higher population of millennials and high-performers are leveraging the intrapreneurship program.  They are also seeing engagement with longer-tenured Allstaters as well.
  • Maria also mentioned the Circle of Young Intrapreneurs that was started by two gentlemen at Barclay’s that have grown to over 7,000 in participants. (

Beyond Intrapreneurship, collaboration is a necessity for people to show up better in the workplace [20:00]

  • Maria talks about the “just enough” coaching she is giving to leaders.  Provide your folks with just enough information relative to the strategy, etc., that you want to take and then quickly open things up for dialogue and collaboration.

The advice Maria would give to her 20-year old self [23:00]

  • From Adam Grant’s Give and Take (  He describes “Givers,” Takers,” and “matchers” and he covers who he believes are the most successful in an organization.  He reveals that givers are the least and the most successful.  They are least when they fail to put themselves on the list to be given to and thus her advice is to put herself on the list!

Maria can be reached at:


Please leave your comments below: What is your take-away? Do you have any additional questions for Maria?

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