Intrapreneur portrait

Meet Ling Ling Phung

Company: former Unilever
Function: founder of Two Lings
Age: 42
Dream: am living the dream!
Guilty pleasure: dark chocolate (no guilt)

As a seasoned social intrapreneur at Unilever, Ling Ling is now founder of a business design and innovation studio, a published author in HBR, and start up coach for social innovators. Learn more at twolings.com

Impact as an intrapreneur

Ling Ling’s portfolio of social innovations span from infant malnutrition and safe drinking water to increasing access to digital education and youth employability. These innovations have spanned a broad range of markets: USA, Australia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal, Mali, eSwatini, South Africa, Ghana, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.

While working as an intrapreneur, Ling Ling believes your work is not only to create new innovations but also to help change a mindset. You must change the way people look at things and their view of what is important.


Challenges as an intrapreneur

Ling Ling noticed that one of the most difficult parts of intrapreneurship is defining success and to be clear on the personal “why” in each intrapreneurship journey. It is important to be satisfied with the work you do, even if a product isn’t launched. Intrapreneurs should see internal capability building as an important outcome of their work as it is critical for systems change. On the micro level, intrapreneurs are the ones who bring to life opportunities that combine business with social impact, to show what is possible. On the macro level, they are a catalyst for growth and change.

“In my career I have had beautiful moments where I felt, this is why I have been put on earth. Moments when you can deploy all of yourself and make a difference.”

Tips to intrapreneurs (to be)


Most important lessons

“Even if your idea as a whole does not work, parts of it might. And with those parts, you hand over new ideas, new ways of thinking, a new approach of doing things. So sometimes your old work seeds itself into something new. Also, you might start a social innovation but do not have the remit in your role to see the work through to the end.  Likely a social innovation will pass through many hands before it will reach its final form. That is the nature of innovating within a large institution. The benefit of working within an institution as compared to a start up, is the ability to leverage existing assets and the potential for rapid scale.”

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