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Creating the intrapreneurial mindset

Zamil Solanki

It’s 2022 — another year of hoping that it will be better and less stressful than the last. I would say though that this was the sentiment for most people in the community pharmacy industry, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

And one thing that is also showing no sign of reprieve is the negative feeling towards working in community pharmacy. If we’re not being ‘overworked’, we’re being ‘underpaid’. And if those two things aren’t an issue, then the patients are ‘painful to deal with’. It appears that the industry is littered with regret, frustration, blame, judgement, comparison and distortion.

Yet, on the other hand, there are members of the pharmacy community who absolutely love and advocate for what they do and the role they play in helping their communities and the wellbeing of every patient they interact with.

So what’s missing?

Why do some absolutely loathe the industry while others are so positively passionate about it?

And was it always this way?


In 1986, I entered the world and the world of pharmacy. Born to a pharmacist mother and an accountant father, my mother worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week in the pharmacy that they had mortgaged everything to purchase. Featuring a backyard, small TV, ironing board and BBQ, this was their second home.

They had come from humble beginnings. Arriving in Australia a few years beforehand with nothing to their name, they slept on a borrowed single mattress in a mouldy apartment for their first six months.

Finding work for a skilled migrant back then was tough. Many employers were reluctant to invest the time and energy to teach their own team, let alone a migrant who they thought would be a few more steps behind.

After weeks of door-knocking, my mother was given the opportunity to develop her skills at a neighbourhood community pharmacy. Unlike the others, her first employer saw her potential and seized the opportunity to mould an eager-eyed, willing and pupil into the pharmacist she soon became.

Through open and honest conversations that inspired and encouraged further growth, my mother’s employer was able to develop and unlock a range of skills and qualities, most notably her Intrapreneurial Mindset. This allowed her to voice ideas, spark change and create trust between herself and her employer.

And, with more trust, came more empowerment. Through his Intrapreneurial Mentorship, she was empowered to truly step into her superpower—to use the knowledge that she gained, to test new ideas and to not be afraid of the lessons learned from failures along the way.


Fast forward to today and you might be wondering how the correlation between 36 years ago and now is still relevant.

Firstly, the role and value of the mentor–mentee relationship is still widely understated and not often leveraged between employers and their teams. This remains evident where, despite a lack of training, a skills shortage is still perceived to outweigh an attitude that is hungry to grow and develop.

“You don’t hire for skills; you hire for attitude, you can always teach skills”

—Simon Sinek

The relationships that offer mutual positive challenge, inspiration, guidance and empowerment, all while stepping outside of their egos, are often forsaken as it’s too much effort even for those who need it the most – students and early career practitioners.

Secondly, the desire to achieve and contribute something bigger than just ourselves hasn’t changed. We all have, at some level, an innate desire to contribute in a way that has significance and meaning. In turn, we seek recognition and acknowledgement for our efforts.

Ultimately, we seek a level of mastery in areas that excite us. It’s a part of our DNA and an essential human need. The thirst for knowledge has never been greater, yet we are bombarded with so much information that is seemingly not relevant that we don’t know how – or worse still, simply forget it before – we could ever apply it. Think back to your school years. How much of that information are you using today? If you sat the same exam paper now, would you pass it? Unfortunately, probably not.

And if it’s our skills and knowledge that currently set us apart (paired with a great attitude), how do we learn and apply what we really need in order to truly succeed?

‘Knowledge unused is like putting a book on the shelf after reading it and implementing nothing from it. We’re in the business of helping others, not creating shelf-help for ourselves.’

Because, lastly, one could argue that employers have always been on the lookout for talent with unique qualities that sets them apart (their X factor). However, more so than ever, employee pharmacists are now flipping the script and assessing what their employer’s X factor is and why they should work for them.

It’s important to note that we all value different things in different priorities, and, as such, our individual X factors and what we look for in others is unique. However, one thing in common that we’re seeing is a clearer distinction between those that want to operate purely as a clinician and those that want to embrace the entrepreneurial side of the business.

Take a moment to think about that. We’ve seen a mass exodus into the hospital pharmacy sector, but we’ve also seen a huge increase in those that want to leverage their skills as a clinician and help improve the operational performance of the community pharmacy they work in through innovative approaches and their leadership skills. This is the definition of an intrapreneur and, in my opinion, the ultimate X factor within our profession.

These talented members are truly aligned to the purpose and mission of the organisation, are intrinsically motivated and go above and beyond to ensure the goals of the organisation are met. But to cultivate an environment that attracts and supports those with this mindset takes effort. Now more than ever, we need to invest time, energy and resources into the Intrapreneurial Mindset.

So where do we start?

It Starts With Humility

At the beginning of the article, we mentioned that the industry is currently strewn with those that are filled with regret, frustration, blame, judgement, comparison and distortion. When pooled together, these feelings give a grim view of the industry and, as such, are seeing droves of pharmacists leaving the community landscape and, worse still, dissuading others from entering it in the first place.

But what if we shifted our perspective to open ourselves up to a viewpoint different to ours? What would we learn? What could be achieved?

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom”

— Mahatma Gandhi

This is where humility comes in.

Humility helps us to appreciate things from a level playing field without segregating ideas between the traditional hierarchies that form within a business between an employer and employee. It allows us to view things from an element of modesty and be open to new ideas, methodologies and teachings.

It helps us to park our egos aside and view things objectively, knowing that the ultimate motivations, inspirations and decisions aren’t for self-serving needs but for the betterment of the entire organisation. There is openness and transparency which support psychological safety – the number one trait identified by Google to create effective teams – and, as such, a desire to learn, seek
mastery and offer peak levels of performance naturally arises.

These are my top tips for creating humility within your organisation and team:

  1. Ask for help.
  2. Offer support.
  3. Seek constant feedback and act on it.
  4. Practise gratitude.
  5. Be humble.
  6. Recognise that you are right where you need to be right now.
  7. Appreciate that you need to put out
    what you want to get in return.
  8. Dedicate the time and resources to educate,
    empower and embrace intrapreneurship.

So where to now?

Empowering The Change

Let’s face it, we went to school and university and came out with a degree that allows us to practise to the highest of clinical standards. That was the point: to be able to practise as a pharmacist following all Quality Use of Medicines principles to ensure the safety and wellbeing of each of our patients – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, we weren’t taught about some of the other realities of our profession. This has led us to the divide we see today between those wanting to practise purely as clinicians and those seeking an understanding of the commercial aspects of their community pharmacy. Unfortunately to date, these two roles have largely been seen as one and, as such, faced increasing criticism.

It’s important to acknowledge that at the core of everything we do, we’re still practising in the confines of a commercial business. A business that has debt, overheads, wages and rent, coupled with increasing competition, smaller margins, mounting workloads and practice requirements.

And for some that have entered the world of ownership, these realities have come at the highest of costs—losing not only their pharmacy but their home and livelihood. Being an entrepreneur is no small feat and one that there was never a manual for. The same goes for leadership.

On the flip side, many employers expect their team to grasp and understand the foundations of entrepreneurship to ensure their community pharmacy thrives. But how is this possible without education, training, openness and transparency?

Without education and training, our team is left to fill in the blanks themselves and make assumptions as to why they are being asked to perform duties that they never expected, nor do they see the reason or connection of these types of requests to their clinical training.

But we can change that. We’re at the precipice of opportunity to create the talent we not only want but truly need, either in ourselves or in others. We now have a choice to sit back and do nothing but complain that things are too hard and not fair, or step up and become workplaces of choice, where talent is attracted to our businesses because of what we do, why we do it and how we execute every day.

To foster an Intrapreneurial Mindset, we need to be willing to accept that there’s still plenty to learn and to teach.

The role of the Intrapreneurial Mentor requires you to:

  • set aside your ego
  • step out of your comfort zone
  • demonstrate vulnerability and transparency
  • seek the expertise of others that have walked in your shoes before.

The role of an Intrapreneurial Mentee needs you to:

  • be open to unlearning past teachings that haven’t served you
  • set aside limiting beliefs
  • acquire the skills and knowledge to translate your clinical mindset into an healthpreneurial one
  • and implement your new knowledge to ensure both you and your community pharmacy truly thrives.

What role will you choose?

Find Out More

To find out how you can further develop your skills as an Intrapreneurial Mentor and/or Intrapreneurial Mentee, head to

To become part of our global community supporting healthpreneurs from all walks of life, head to

As we’re growing a like-minded community that truly values health, be sure to answer all the questions to gain entry. There’s no right or wrong!

About The Author

Zamil Solanki works with healthpreneurs — from individuals to large multinational organisations – to help them overcome unique challenges and achieve their goals through curated training programs and tailored holistic solutions. Unlike other coaches and consultants, we pair global research and techniques with our own experiences, having grown our own pharmacy by $4 million and exiting it for 3x the industry average multiple.

To do this, we focus holistically, using five key pillars: mindset, planning, leadership, marketing and sales and specialising in workflow, innovation, automation and systems.

Zamil Solanki
Pharmacist, Business Strategist & Entrepreneurial Coach

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