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Hackathons Are Popular As Competitions, Their Contribution To Hiring Is Still Modest: Haragopal M, IIM Bangalore

Hackathons Are Popular As Competitions, Their Contribution To Hiring Is Still Modest: Haragopal M, IIM Bangalore


Hackathons have been in vogue for quite some time in the tech world to source innovative ideas. Many employers have also used this medium to brand themselves well with their prospective employees.

For the participants, hackathons address one or many of these motivations – prize money, bragging rights, learning opportunities and/or hires. Quite often the hiring as a motive is understated in many hackathons.

We spoke to Haragopal Mangipudi of IIM to know his views on Hackathon. Mangipudi did his Post Graduate Programme in Software Enterprise Management at IIM Bangalore in 2001 and is a recipient of IIMB’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2016. He is currently the CEO and MD of finUNO and also the founder of guNaka. He is also Adjunct Faculty at IIMB, where he teaches Software Product Management.

AIM: How hackathons have become a crucial part of the hiring process in the data science industry

HM: Data is the oxygen in this space and to ideate or create compelling prototypes, access to the right data sets is a must. And to give such access in a controlled yet meaningful way, a hackathon could be a right stage.

Data science is a team sport and it would be ideal to have a hiring platform that helps in hiring a complete team of complementary skills and experience than individual candidates. Hackathons these days do invite senior data scientist profiles to mentor and judge these hackathon events.

AIM: Have hackathons replaced the traditional ways of hiring?

HM: While hackathons have been popular both with the sponsors and participants, their contribution to the total hiring is still a small number. This number is higher in the valley and it’s getting better in India as well.

Communities and platforms like Kaggle tailored for this space have been very successful in addition to the broader platforms like HackerRank,  Hackathon, MachineHack.

AIM: What is the main purpose of conducting a hackathon for educational institutions?

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HM: Hackathons is a good idea to simulate the business context in an academic environment as well to give a closer to real life example. Many of the communities do support this in an academic environment as well. IIMB being known for both technology and management skills is better suited to hold hackathons.

AIM: How important are hackathons (both internal and external) to boost innovation

HM: Internal Hackathon as an unconstrained “platform for innovation” is a good idea to source disruptive ideas from hitherto unknown corners of the organization.

Most often employees are inhibited by the organizational structure and their roles to come up with innovations. Hackathons break those departmental and hierarchical barriers to source productive and inspiring ideas and creations from the internal stakeholders as well.

AIM: Any more ideas for productive and engaging hackathons?

  • Gamification is a good idea for the hackathons to increase the challenge-level to push the participants to their fullest potential for hiring decisions
  • Customer/User hackathons are also useful to source some good profiles from the customer industry/domain
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