July 8, 2020

Challenge Accepted — 6 Days, 10 Time Zones, 20 International Teams

Challenge Accepted — 6 Days, 10 Time Zones, 20 International Teams

At The Hacker Exchange, we’ve been training a new breed of dragon tamers for the COVID-19 era. Our Great Global Challengers endured 6 non-stop days of teamwork and innovation, to emerge exhausted, wiser and inspired to act.

Twenty teams, purposely mixed across time zones and skillsets, had just under 6 days to ideate, model, validate, prototype and pitch a concept to help a community greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And throughout the challenge, they were exposed to incredible speakers and experts to guide them along the way.

Not long after we opened up the Slack conversation, the 87 students selected for the Great Global Challenge from the University of California San Diego (USA), Australian National University, Monash University (AU), and University of Southampton (UK) started introducing themselves…

We discovered we were navigating not three asynchronous time zones, but ten, with students logging in from India, China, Italy, Mexico, Germany, Russia and Western Australia, in addition to the university cities in the USA, UK and east coast Australia. Luckily for us, a core component of the challenge was experiencing the real world scenario faced by global remote teams: international scheduling.

For HEX’s Aussie-based remote team, that meant a relay race of 4am starts and 3am finishes. But it was worth it to light the fire for the next generation of innovative thinkers.

“Hi! I just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying this program! I had very very little faith that a virtual program could be this interactive. Your team’s energy is infectious and I really feel their passion. I also never thought I would like the business world—but learning about the rapid prototyping tests and the user test process has been INSANE for my scientifically trained mind!”


These were some of my highlights:

  • Goal Setting and Visualisation with our friend, Josh Farr, Founder of Campus Consultancy. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it, a good goal setting session is ALWAYS beneficial. Most of our cohort was young enough they’d never heard of Brené Brown, so I realised I was watching dozens of life-changing experiences taking place. It was beautiful.
  • Opening Address with Nobel Prize winner and Vice Chancellor and President of ANU, Professor Brian Schmidt. HEX has "redefined the entire career journey for students… This is the type of activity you should try to sparkle your life with throughout your career.” Thanks Professor!
  • The Futurist’s Perspective with Chief Innovation Officer of Enactus, Terry Torok. This guy lives and breathes purpose. Here are a couple of his gold nuggets:
  • If you don’t know where you stand, you can’t decide your next step.
  • Instead of focusing on the pursuit of happiness, recognise the happiness of pursuit.
  • Measure prosperity instead of profit. “When you think in terms of prosperity, you’re thinking from a different frame… It’s ‘How do I help my friends? How do I help my family? How do I have more but share more?’”
  • And, of course, watching the final pitches! It was so difficult for our judges to limit prizes to just three teams, so in the end we created another prize for fourth placed Mundohub. Well done to KidCal, Walk With U and Xhibit for taking out the top honours.

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