Walk into a hackathon topped with 400 millennials, 50+ support staff, 32 facilitators, 30+ hours of organized sessions, 16 breakout rooms filled with people for a total of three days. Lightly season with three Mendix employees and put in Rome to bake!
Over these three days in Rome, I had the privilege to meet and work with some of the brightest minds of our generation. Let me backtrack to the beginning:
It’s early December and I get an email from Nick Levy at EY asking if I can help out at an event running in the new year. Having previously worked with EY, and armed with a little information on the event about the possibility of graduates using Mendix, I jumped at the opportunity, and a plan was hatched. Little did I realize the magnitude of what I had agreed to or the potential impact for both organizations in the future.
Fast forward past several meetings and calls and I am sitting in Rome in-front of 32 facilitators with the aim of imparting enough Mendix knowledge to them so they can run their classes for the next two days. It’s worth taking a moment at this point to talk about why this was all happening. Every year, the EY FSO (Financial Services Organization) has a huge intake of graduates. These graduates, many at the beginning of their career, are given an opportunity to come together for three days to network, learn, experience what it is to be an EY employee, and discover the future career opportunities available to them. Sitting through the opening plenary sessions, I was genuinely inspired and almost wished I was 20 years old and had just joined this company. The graduates had the bonus of a full complement of EMEA senior leadership attending the event, all of whom made time to share stories, advise and meet as many people as possible.
The second and third days of the event centered around an innovation challenge, the simple premise being for each team to come up with an innovative, technology-based solution to a problem in the Financial Services industry. Over 60 teams of graduates with carte blanche to innovate, ideate and come up with a product that EY could potentially earn revenue from in the future; the catch? No PowerPoint allowed! Seeing the challenge delivered to a room of 400+ people, and the suggestion that the use of Mendix was ‘encouraged’ was really the first time that I realized what myself, Craig and Ronald had let ourselves in for.
In a timeframe of 10 hours, 50 out of the 60 teams used Mendix to bring their idea to life. Running from room to room to offer help and support, the three of us covered many miles and helped many people; what we didn’t do, however, was build any apps. Each of the teams used the Mendix Web Modeler to build their own apps. Prior to this event, almost all of them had never seen (or heard of) Mendix and had never developed any kind of software before. Nevertheless, almost all of them had a functioning app in a very short span of time.
Fast forward again to the closing plenary: David Williams, Head of UK Technology and sponsoring partner for the event takes to the stage to announce the three winning teams. As the three teams take the stage, they demo three functional mobile apps, built by largely non-technical people who had never seen the platform before, in less than 24 hours.
As I reflect on the event and the amazing apps that were built, I find myself amazed at the opportunities presented to these upcoming professionals at the very start of their careers in an age where technology is radically changing lives on a daily basis. The ability to build robust applications in less than 24 hours will surely open up many doors for these graduates.