Unlocking Talent Development: The Power of Corporate Ventures

Wright Partners
7 min readOct 18, 2023

In today’s dynamic and competitive business landscape, talent is one of the most important components for corporates in creating a competitive edge. Corporates are constantly searching for innovative strategies to engage, develop, and retain their talent. Corporate ventures are increasingly seen as a popular, albeit unconventional, method to help develop talent in the organization.

In this article, we will explore three key areas in detail: the diverse learning opportunities that corporate ventures offer, strategies for effectively bringing that newfound knowledge back into the larger organization, and the importance of designing specialized programs for high-performing employees to engage in corporate ventures.

Talent Development Opportunities in Corporate Ventures

A. Diverse Skill Set Acquisition

Corporate ventures serve as a rich learning ground for employees, allowing them to acquire a diverse range of skills and experiences. The dynamic environment in corporate ventures often requires employees to wear multiple hats and learn the various aspects of business operations.

Consider the case of Google’s Area 120, an internal startup incubator. Here, employees are encouraged to work on innovative projects that span product development, marketing, and business strategy. This diverse exposure equips employees with invaluable cross-functional skills that can significantly enhance their career development.

At Wright Partners, we encourage our corporate partners to identify and deploy some of their high-performing talents to be part of the venture team, particularly exposing them to new areas that will allow them to develop new skill sets. In some of our ventures, these talents chose to join the venture full-time after the initial engagement and continued to lead the scale-up of the ventures.

B. Entrepreneurial Mindset

One of the most noticeable benefits of creating a corporate venture is its ability to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset among employees. This mindset is characterized by a relentless drive for innovation, a willingness to take calculated risks, and a profound sense of ownership over projects.

Amazon’s “Working Backwards” process exemplifies this approach, where employees start by focusing on the customer and then work backward to create products and services that address their needs. By doing so, employees develop an entrepreneurial spirit that not only drives innovation within the company but also instills a sense of personal empowerment.

Some of the ventures that Wright Partners have built with our corporate partners started from ideas that were first proposed by the talents in the organization. In other cases, corporates run internal innovation competitions to get ideas for corporate ventures. By taking these ideas and turning it into a real venture, the talents in the corporates can see the possibilities and are more motivated to be more innovative and entrepreneurial.

C. Risk-Taking and Decision-Making

The corporate venture environment offers a safe space for employees to refine their risk-taking abilities and enhance their decision-making skills. Microsoft’s Garage program is a testament to this concept, allowing employees to explore passion projects and experiment with new ideas. In this risk-tolerant setting, employees are encouraged to take calculated risks and learn from both successes and failures. Such experiences are invaluable, as they prepare employees to make informed decisions and navigate uncertainty effectively, traits that are highly sought after in today’s business world.

When talents from our corporate partners work in building a venture with us, we share our ways of making decisions that are data-driven and based on our practical problem-solving approach. With practice throughout the venture building period, these new decision-making and problem-solving approaches can become a new norm that may be applicable to the broader organization as well.

D. Networking and Collaboration

Collaboration is a cornerstone of a corporate venture, and employees have the unique opportunity to not only work closely with colleagues but also forge connections with external partners and startups.

Cisco’s Innovate Everywhere Challenge is a prime example of this collaborative spirit, where employees collaborate with startups to develop innovative solutions. This cross-pollination of ideas and networks is invaluable for talent development. By exposing employees to a diverse array of perspectives and experiences, corporate venturing fosters a culture of continuous learning and innovation.

In creating new ventures, our venture team will work with many different parties. Internally, they would work with our experts, our talent acquisition team, and other venture teams. Externally, they would be exploring partnerships that would support the ventures, as well as fund-raising for the ventures. These exposures are not typically what talents in corporates can get in doing their day-to-day jobs.

Bringing Learning Back into the Bigger Organization

A. Knowledge Transfer Mechanisms

Effectively transferring the knowledge gained within corporate ventures back to the parent organization can be a challenge. To address this, companies like IBM have implemented structured knowledge-sharing platforms that enable employees to document their insights and lessons learned. Regular debriefs and post-project evaluations also play a crucial role in distilling key takeaways and ensuring that valuable knowledge is integrated into the larger organization’s practices.

At Wright Partners, we share all the materials and tools that we use in the venture building engagements. This includes our cadence of meetings, our methodologies, as well as the results of any research and analysis that we have done. This makes it easy for our corporate partners to reuse some of these tools and methodologies in the broader organization.

B. Cross-Pollination of Ideas

Building a corporate venture can facilitate the cross-pollination of innovative ideas. General Electric’s FastWorks program is a prime example, encouraging the sharing of best practices and lessons between corporate ventures and the larger organization. This approach has led to the widespread adoption of lean startup principles throughout the company, infusing a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.

C. Mentorship and Coaching

Mentorship and coaching are essential components of bridging the gap between corporate ventures and the parent organization. Companies like 3M have implemented mentorship programs that pair venture employees with experienced mentors from the core business. This mentorship not only accelerates learning but also fosters stronger connections between ventures and the main organization. Mentorship provides employees with guidance, support, and a sense of belonging, all of which are vital for talent development.

Designing a Program for High Performers in Corporate Ventures

A. Identifying High Performers

Identifying high-performing employees for participation in corporate ventures is a critical step in maximizing the benefits of this approach. Just to be clear, involvement in building corporate ventures is not for everyone. We encourage our corporate partners to be very selective about the talents that they would like to engage in the building of the venture.

Companies like Johnson & Johnson have developed comprehensive performance metrics and assessments to identify employees with the potential to excel in venture environments. These metrics may include evaluations of innovation contributions, adaptability, leadership skills, and the ability to thrive in dynamic settings.

B. Customized Career Paths

High-performing talents in corporate ventures often require customized career paths that consider their unique skills and aspirations. Companies like Intel have successfully implemented individualized development plans that cater to the specific needs of each employee. These plans ensure that high performers continue to thrive in both venture and core business roles, providing them with a clear path for advancement.

For talents that have been involved in building our corporate ventures, we offer an alternative career path, which can be a fast-track of their career in their own specialty with the venture, or be a generalist entrepreneur. With some of our corporate partners, they also create an opportunity for these talents to go back to the mothership after spending a certain amount of time with the ventures.

C. Continuous Feedback and Evaluation

Regular feedback and performance evaluation are essential components of talent development. Qualcomm’s venture program, for instance, incorporates frequent check-ins, 360-degree evaluations, and feedback loops to provide employees with the necessary support and guidance for their growth. This approach fosters a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring that employees remain aligned with their career development goals. With our ventures, we also encourage this feedback and mentorship relationship to be fostered with a mentor in the corporate, formally or informally.

D. Rewards and Recognition

Recognizing and rewarding high-performing employees is vital for talent retention and motivation. Procter & Gamble’s Connect + Develop program not only rewards employees for their contributions to innovation but also celebrates their successes. These incentives, whether in the form of bonuses, promotions, or public recognition, keep high-performing employees engaged and committed to the organization’s mission.

In our venture structure, we ensure that talents that get involved in the venture building or move to the venture are also rewarded with equity. This has been observed to be effective in fostering the sense of ownership of the ventures as well as a great motivator.


In today’s fast-paced and competitive business environment, talent development is a cornerstone of success. Corporate ventures offer a dynamic and innovative pathway for employees to grow and excel. By embracing the diverse learning opportunities within corporate ventures, implementing effective knowledge transfer mechanisms, and designing specialized programs for high-performing individuals, organizations can harness the power of corporate ventures to develop their talent and secure a competitive edge.

We at Wright Partners strongly believe that involving your talents in a venture building process allows you to not only invest in the growth of your employees but also position your company in a good position to engage, retain, and develop your talents better.

We are pleased to be an appointed venture studio of EDB’s Corporate Venture Launchpad 2.0. CVL 2.0 is an expanded S$20m programme by EDB New Ventures, designed to enable companies to incubate and launch a new venture from Singapore, supported by venture studios experienced in corporate venture building. You can also find out more on our website.

Interested to learn more about investable ventures? Drop us a line: contact@wright.partners


Rangga Maharga, Venture Partner at Wright Partners