Engineering Blog

Meet the Hackers: Do your sales teams know your developers?

tl;dr

You can use hackathons to make awesome developers stand out and get company-wide recognition.


One of the challenges of distributed teams is people having a hard time associating faces with names. I am sure that none of our sales reps in California know the name of more than two developers, maybe they don’t even know one.

Releases and features are seen as coming from this one engineering entity. It’s always a group effort and the individuals responsible for great achievements are hidden behind the team. The reverse happens in sales department. Individual achievements are celebrated each month. Though not everyone might have spoken to the highest performing sales people, their names and their faces are known.

A hackathon is a great opportunity to introduce your developers to the company, have them thrive in the (temporary) competitive spirit and at the end highlight and celebrate their (really hacky) achievements.

During last year’s Huddle Hackathon I experimented a bit with this idea. In addition to the exposure the developers got when presenting and demoing their finished hacks I thought it would be fun to do something a bit silly (mostly inspired by the NeverBland Silicon Christmas party photo booth).

I brought in all the ridiculous hats, feather boas, fake moustaches, magnifying glasses, waistcoats, and other crazy accessories I had lying around my house (and believe me, I had a surprising amount) to put together a Hackathon photo booth.

We got a photo taken for each Hack team and then sent it around the office together with a ridiculous fact in a Meet the Hackers email series. Here’s a selection of them:

Team Continuity: Jon likes giraffes. Harry thinks piña coladas are all right.

Team Who’s Viewing: James regularly cries during Disney films. Deniz's fear of heights is slightly greater than his fear of watching other people doing things high off the ground. Emily hates runny eggs.

Team Data: Ian thinks Merman was infinitely superior to HeMan. Daniel has a constant craving for a Prawn Biryani.

I’m not sure any San Fran sales peeps are likely to still remember how scared of heights Deniz is, but they did get a few laughs out of it, and maybe they recognized his face during his hack demo.

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