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Hackathon challenge

First hackathon event great example of how universities and corporations can work together to create an enriching learning experience for high potential women interested in pursuing careers in technology industries.

Hackathon Challenge: teams working together
Female graduate students from a wide range of backgrounds, including business, engineering, bio-technology and medicine, came together on 16 January 2017 to compete in a Hackathon Challenge. The event, organised by the Wo+Men’s Leadership Initiative at Cambridge Judge Business School, Newnham College and Microsoft, invited students from STEMM disciplines at the University of Cambridge and current students at Cambridge Judge and asked them to come up with creative ideas to tackle technological challenges.

During the day students worked in teams of four to offer new solutions on how Microsoft could improve customer engagement in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The teams brainstormed some ideas and then worked on recommendations combining technology and business aspects, with help from Microsoft top executives’.

Recommendations included adjusting Microsoft offerings and solutions to the CEE market, supporting banks in addressing their millennial customers and their needs and focusing on Smart Grids Data Analysis and the Field & Operations in the Power and Utilities sector.

Victoria Kimonides, Account Technology Director, Microsoft Central and Eastern Europe, EPG, member of Cambridge University Alumni Advisory Board and Newnham College alumna said: “It was great to see the attitude with which the students ‘jumped-in’ and owned in a way the challenge as well as the creativity and enthusiasm with which they engaged.”

Amanda Mesler, General Manager, Microsoft Central and Easter Europe, EPG said: “Working with Newnham and Cambridge Judge was enriching for all sides. The high potential female students were full of energy and came to the Hackathon Challenge with rich insight and perspectives that were very relevant to solving the real world challenges in Microsoft. There was learning for all and the value created will hopefully be useful for years to come. We value the partnership we are developing and hope to do more with Newnham and Cambridge Judge in the future.”

The event closed with the award of a certificate of participation from Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College and Amanda Mesler during a networking dinner where students could share their experience and find out more about careers in technology. One of the participants who is studying bio-technology at the University of Cambridge, said: “I found this event very useful. It was good to meet fellow students, senior executives from Microsoft and to work on a particular project. I wish there were more events like this.”

Professor Sucheta Nadkarni

Professor Sucheta Nadkarni

Sucheta Nadkarni, Professorial Fellow at Newnham College, and Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management and Director of the Wo+Men’s Leadership Initiative at Cambridge Judge, said: “The Hackathon Challenge is a great example of how universities and corporations can work together to create an enriching learning experience for high potential women interested in pursuing careers in technology industries. This workshop provided an opportunity for participants to get firsthand experience on real issues facing Microsoft, work closely with seasoned executives from Microsoft to come up with high quality issues as well as learning from fellow participants who came from very different backgrounds.”