Bold Fusion to focus on how disruptors and mavericks can help big companies thrive

Greater Cincinnati’s largest annual gathering of young professionals, Bold Fusion, will explore the emerging concept of “intrapreneurship” Aug. 18 at Jack Cincinnati Casino. The half-day event is organized by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s HYPE program (Harnessing Young Professional Energy).
“An intrapreneur is someone who takes an entrepreneurial approach within a large organization,” says Chitra Anand, Bold Fusion’s keynote speaker who recently served as Head of Public Relations at Microsoft Canada. “Someone who challenges conventional thinking to drive innovation, creative thinking and new ways of approaching business.”
In Cincinnati and elsewhere, intrapreneurs are working in Fortune 500 companies, small private companies, the arts and nonprofit organizations.
“I believe that because of today’s dynamic market conditions, every industry requires these types of people,” Anand says. “There are the disruptors, the mavericks, the trend spotters, the Curious Georges of the organization that needs them in order to survive. Competition is fierce, and I believe talent is one of those factors that will differentiate organizations.”
Bold Fusion’s local speakers — Tony Blankemeyer, Valerie Jacobs, James Marable and Ross Meyer — will share their experiences as intrapreneurs within a variety of Cincinnati organizations. Companies might find that embracing “disruptors” in their ranks can be challenging, they say, but the results speak for themselves when employers help creative employees develop their own intrapreneurial skills.

“Over the past few years, the market has been exposed to startups more than ever before, making their founders into a new breed of celebrities,” says Jacobs, Chief Insight & Innovation Officer at LPK. “Yet many people work for larger organizations and are unsure how these startup stories apply to them. During my talk, I hope to inspire people who have an entrepreneurial spirit — but maybe not the risk profile to create their own company — to nurture the startup mentality within themselves and their organizations.
“All they need to do is cultivate an experimental mindset within the purview of their role. I hope to inspire attendees to learn how to use failure as a positive tool to advance, grow and broaden their identity and ability to begin a constant state of change and evolution.”
The companies the speakers represent are doing their part to cultivate young professional employees and encourage engagement across the wider region.
“We’re active participants in many industry organizations, and our engagement with the area’s startup ecosystem are just a few ways we connect with our community,” says Blankemeyer, Startup Liaison & Data Commercialization Lead at 84.51°. “One of the things that I enjoy being involved with is our ‘Degrees of Giving’ initiative, where our staff gifts their time, talent and fundraising efforts to employee-selected Greater Cincinnati nonprofits.
“Throughout the year, we’re embedded in the chosen organizations and it not only gives us great perspective and strengthens our teams but it also brings us closer to our neighbors. This type of community engagement is important to many people, but in particular younger generations.”
For many young professionals, Greater Cincinnati offers unique opportunities and accessibility for those looking to impact their community.
“From an entrepreneurship, civic engagement and corporate standpoint, the opportunity to make connections and actually see projects through are endless,” says Marable, Manager of Recruitment Brand Marketing at Macy’s. “My hope is that I inspire that young creative thinker who may think they aren’t maximizing their potential by working in a corporate environment. I want them to know that you have the ability to dictate your own destiny no matter the circumstances.”
Bold Fusion also showcases intrapreneurs who are stepping up to help nonprofits engage millennials and young professionals in supporting the region’s cultural assets and offering solutions to social problems.
“We are a remarkably generous community, and that’s especially true for our young professionals,” says Meyer, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “We have more than 1,000 members in our United Way LINC (Lead, Impact, Network, Change) program for young professionals who are coming together to improve our community. Cincinnati is big enough to make an impact that’s significant but small enough to actually get things done.”

Bold Fusion begins with registration and networking, followed by the four local speakers presenting in a TED Talk format. Husband-and-wife duo Allen and Kyla Woods will serve as moderators, while Brandon Black, a graphic note taker, will live-illustrate the presentations. Anand will present the keynote talk before the event wraps up with a networking happy hour.
“This is really a ‘day on’ for employees,” Erika Fiola, Manager of the Chamber’s Talent Initiative, says. “Bold Fusion is an opportunity for leadership development, networking and professional development. It’s an investment in nurturing young talent.”
People of all ages, not just YPs, are encouraged to attend.
“The topic this year is generating inquiries from across age groups and demographics,” Fiola says. “Everyone can and should come. Bold Fusion is easy to engage with. It’s one afternoon to make connections and friends, to get embedded and excited about what’s going on here.”
That said, space is limited and HYPE expects another sold-out event, so early registration is encouraged.
“There will be clear takeaways from all of the talks,” Fiola says. “People will be entertained and inspired and have ideas they can take back to use in their workplaces.
“People love to hear these stories. It’s a great reminder of the amazing work happening here. There is a mindset that you have to go to New York or San Francisco to do impactful work. That just isn’t true. You can do that here. So we’re glad to be able bring in some of the folks doing that work to share their stories.”
Get more information about Bold Fusion and register to attend here.

Read more articles by Julie Carpenter.

Julie Carpenter has a background in cultural heritage tourism, museums, and nonprofit organizations. She's the Executive Director of AIA Cincinnati.