ASOS HackComp: #BalanceforBetter for International Women’s Day

Grace Davies
Apr 12 · 4 min read

Back in October we held what was one of our most successful HackComp’s of all time: Hackoween. Two days of collaboration, innovation and Halloween-themed fun brought out countless new, exciting ideas, with the winning team’s idea now in the pipeline for production.

It’s no surprise that when we were approached to hold a HackComp in ASOS’ Birmingham satellite office, we jumped at the chance.

We didn’t want to just host a HackComp, we also wanted to celebrate something that is at the heart of our tech community, Women in Tech. So, we decided to hold it on International Women’s Day (IWD) with 50/50 split teams of females and males to promote this year’s IWD theme of #BalanceforBetter.

Research* has shown that having equal gender split teams inspires more innovation and creativity, so we were excited to see what the outcome would be.

Having a mixture of internal ASOSers and external participants really encouraged a refreshing and exciting vibe. We ended up with around 80 hackers from all different backgrounds, disciplines and industries.

The teams were split into coloured groups beforehand and were asked to wear something of that colour on the day. Team Pink get a special shout-out for all dressing the part.

The morning kicked off with the teams discussing their ideas around the problem areas presented by the business. The main focus was on how we could excite our customers around the areas of events, size and fit.

Day 1: Team brainstorming

What always amazes us about these first few hours are how the teams form together so quickly and join forces to come up with a great idea, before moving on to formulate a plan and get down to business. Everyone seemed to get really involved and play an important, pivotal part in their team to get a business case and prototype ready for the judging the following day.

There’s always a real sense of urgency on the first day, though it was a lot more prominent for Team Green, who at around 3pm realised another team in a previous HackComp had already prototyped their idea. Back to the drawing board they went.

Day 1: Back to the drawing board for Team Green

Day soon turned to night with everyone hacking away — pizza eventually arriving to help recharge their batteries.

The next day started with Team Pink releasing a promo gif of their idea, sparking up the competition.

Everyone pulled together after breakfast to get their presentations and prototypes finished. So much so that by the time the judges arrived it was commented that the atmosphere seemed too calm. The amazing Team Green had managed to come up with a second idea in time.

Day 2: Team White coming up with final designs

At 1.30pm teams were asked to put down their pens and keyboards and present, in exhibition style, to our four judges — ASOS’ Ecommerce, Finance and Global Trading directors as well as a Lead Business Analyst.

The judges were impressed by what the teams could achieve in such a short period of time. Each team put their all into making something amazing while staying true to ASOS’ core values — being Brave, Creative and Authentic to our customers.

Despite having only half a day to work on their idea, Team Green came in third place, with Team Pink in second and Team White winning overall. Well done everyone!

The winners: Team White

We can tell you all day long how much fun the HackComp was, however here are some quotes from our Hackers:

‘Absolutely loved it! Learning new skills and meeting people was great. Such a truly amazing experience, I’d love to do it all over again. To be on the winning team gave it that extra special feeling, a memory I won’t forget. A big thank you to everyone involved and to those who organised and helped make the HackComp happen!’

‘It was fun to create a working prototype, which gave me the chance to do some full-stack development. I also enjoyed working with different people with varied skillsets.’

‘The hackathon was a great chance to work with different people with a diverse skill set. Being faced with exciting real-life business challenges, and a chance to dive into different roles outside of the usual day job, was a great learning (and fun) experience.’

‘The HackComp really shows how much can be achieved by a committed and passionate team in just two days. With so many creative ideas, it was difficult to choose only one.’

‘The mix of ASOSers and external applicants with various job roles really helped keep the customer focus at the heart of all our ideas.’

HackComp organisers

*What is the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance

**Harvard Research Reveals that Gender Diversity Makes Firms More Productive

About the writer: My name is Grace and I’m a Software Engineer at ASOS and co-organiser of the ASOS HackComp. I’m into everything Tech and love a good challenge. Having worked in the software industry for the last six years, I’m not only striving to be a software engineer but a good software craftsman as well.

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