When was the last time you spent 48 hours at work by choice? At Mastercard, that’s exactly what we recently asked employees to do. Spend two days brainstorming, building and pitching a new commerce and payment solution at our global employee hackathon, Take Initiative. 460 employees participated! 460 people in over 100 teams across nine Mastercard locations. Designed to be an action-packed, all-hands-on-deck experience, we took our best minds out of their day jobs and comfort zones to innovate, have fun, compete and, in turn, lift Mastercard’s business to new heights.
Imagine competing with people you sit next to every day, coding past midnight, creating a business strategy at dawn, and pitching a new product idea with everything you’ve got in under five minutes. Possibly without showering (toothbrushes were handed out and deodorant was encouraged!).
After all that, only one team from each office was selected to move on to the next round last week, joining finalists from across the world to compete for the opportunity to advance their idea. Ultimately, Team Ideate from San Carlos, California was our global victor. They identified a way to expand our concierge service to more cardholders via a new interface and powered by artificial intelligence – a very interesting idea with significant implications when we look to sell through our core product value proposition.
Teams consisted of product leaders, designers and developers combining skillsets to ensure successful delivery of a working prototype and business plan. Senior executives from across the company served as mentors, spending time with teams to guide ideation and provide an occasional sanity check when the going got tough.
The challenges ranged from digital innovation to financial inclusion. Many employees at Mastercard want to use their skills to do well AND do good, and a large percentage of participants developed products to advance our initiatives in financial inclusion.
Even in the spirit of social good and digital innovation, it is hard to keep energy up for 48 hours. It is a true but well-worn trope that code is built on sugar and caffeine. That’s why we made sure there was plenty of pizza, ice cream and coffee to go around the globe. And when snacking wasn’t enough to keep creative juices flowing, some employees tweeted about playing games of foosball, kicking around a soccer ball and even doing handstands on their downtime.
We’re proud to create programs like Take Initiative that foster intrapreneurship and enable employees to build the next big thing, along with their futures, from the ground up.