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UEL announces winner of Talent & Diversity Hackathon

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Phantom Recruitment Method takes the Talent & Diversity Hackathon crown with pitch to reduce bias in the hiring process

An open source software package designed to make the hiring process as anonymous as possible in order to reduce bias was declared the winning idea of the University of East London’s Talent & Diversity Hackathon in partnership with Microsoft and ABP. 

Vallipuram Kajenthra, Elisa Bernardini, Laurence Costello and Chris Davis of Phantom Recruitment Method (PRM) won the Dragon Den’s style competition over three worthy competitor teams at the University’s Royal Docks Education and Enterprise Festival on 12 June. 

Professor Amanda Broderick, UEL’s vice chancellor and president and chair of the competition’s five judge panel, said, “The Phantom Recruitment Method team demonstrated to us that they had created a powerful solution that could have immediate impact and had really thought through all the challenges from conception to delivery. All the judges felt that the team were highly eloquent in presenting their pitch.

“With the Talent & Diversity Hackathon, the goal was for University of East London stakeholders to work together to find innovative ideas to increase the strength and diversity of the talent pipeline in east London and beyond. The ideas presented today give me confidence that some of the best solutions are being created right here in our own community.”

The four teams which pitched their ideas at the Festival were drawn from a larger pool generated during a day-long hackathon organised by the University of East London and Microsoft in April. Over 100 students, academics, employers, education providers and community stakeholders participated in the Talent & Diversity Hackathon, which was hosted by ABP London, working in small, design-thinking groups to explore ways to facilitate the future growth, sustainability and diversity of the talent pipeline. 

The final four teams presented at the Festival before a panel of judges comprised of Professor Broderick; Joel Bloomfield, higher education lead at Microsoft; Adam Chircop, head of human resources at ExCel London; Dr Charles Prince, director of the University of East London’s Centre for Student Success; and Laura Ansah, a UEL student.  

Mr Bloomfield said, “It was great to be a part of the University of East London’s Royal Docks Education and Enterprise Festival. We saw some great ideas progress out of the Hackathon and the participants came up with some innovative solutions which really tackled the central problem and showed a good understanding of the challenges they would face as they look to bring their product to market. 

“The deserved winners, Phantom Recruitment Method, showed great entrepreneurial spirit and managed the question and answer session fantastically well, clearly articulating complete clarity of their product.”

As an open source solution, Phantom Recruitment Method is flexible, exists in the Cloud, and can be customised. The team plans to launch the product in east London, and roll it out nationally. The platform can be tailored to include tests such as numeracy, literacy, digital and other specialist areas. Revenue will be raised through a subscription model. 

The other finalists:

• JobJam, created by Silva Venna and Samiha Rahman, proposed a vlog platform as a way for employers to showcase their company’s diversity and answer questions from job applicants. The team said the goal is for the vlogs help employers attract diverse groups of applicants. 

• 3DCV, comprised of Samuel Cris Ayo, Ella McKenzie and Dmitrijs Kozminihs, designed a digital resource that stores evidence of job seekers’ skills.  It is estimated that 80 per cent of employers struggle to source candidates with the right skills, and 3DCV helps employers search and find candidates via specific skill sets. The platform is anonymous, removing problems with bias.

• Merosa Cofie, Tanaz Noor and Pamela Jeffrey of ELEV8 pitched an idea for a three-day skills bootcamp and an eight-week work placement to tackle skills gaps among students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. These would be a structured programme that would help students gain key skills and offer employers an opportunity to engage with students and increase their diversity efforts. 
As the winner, Phantom Recruitment Method were presented with £2,000. 

Team member Vallipuram Kajenthra said, “We worked fantastically as a team as we all have strong skills in different areas that complimented each other. Elisa visualised the project and was the creative force. Laurence brought technical, digital skills to the table and, as a student who has recently gone through the hiring process, could give us some great insight. Chris was our CEO, project manager and the ideas man. I worked on the marketing and operational side of the project and brought an employer’s perspective to the team.” 

Teammate Chris David said, “All of our experiences and skills gelled together.  We didn’t criticise each other but just wanted to help each other.”