1st Solidarity Hackathon: Talented and Innovative Teams

March 8, 2022 2:50 pm

A participatory experience, a strategic challenge, a social-impact project that brought together 40 alumni in 10 cities for an intense week of teamwork.

The 1st Esade Alumni Solidarity Hackathon, held from 24th to 28th January 2022, was organised around the theme of “A Good New Year’s Resolution: Helping NGOs That Need You”. A total of 40 alumni took part in the experience.

This teamwork-based initiative was organised to benefit the Quiero Trabajo Foundation, which facilitates the social and occupational reintegration of women at risk of social exclusion, with a spectacular success rate of over 80%. Like any organisation or company, the foundation faces numerous challenges. Five multidisciplinary teams, each guided by a coach, worked intensely using the design-thinking method for more than 12 hours, providing valuable and innovative solutions based on their own assessment of this renowned NGO.
The teams worked together remotely. Participants included alumni from the United States, Germany and Italy, as well as various cities across Spain, including Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Toledo, Barcelona and Madrid.


The experience was very enriching both for the alumni and for the beneficiary organisation. Throughout the experience, participants had the opportunity to get to know each other, share their views, discover new realities, learn about the third sector and familiarise themselves with new design-thinking methodologies. In addition to five useful solutions to the challenges posed, the Quiero Trabajo Foundation obtained a highly valuable outsider’s view from the participating professionals, as well as brand awareness, publicity for its cause and more than one good contact for future collaborations, given that the alumni fell in love with the foundation’s work and mission.

How did the Hackathon work?

The event followed the Big Bloom methodology, which has been used in more than 200 hackathons across the globe. Participants were split into teams of eight people. Each team was assigned a volunteer coach, who was a member of the alumni community who had been specifically trained for this purpose.

The hackathon consisted of four phases, each focusing on a different skill: active listening during the empathy phase, creativity during the ideation phase, critical thinking during the prototyping phase and public speaking during the pitch phase. The participants learned work methodologies that enabled them to mobilise their collective intelligence.

For the foundation, the opportunity to participate in a Solidarity Hackathon with the Esade Alumni community was, in their own words, indescribable. Anna Ballús, Head of Communication and Marketing at the Quiero Trabajo Foundation, declared: “At the Quiero Trabajo Foundation, we have a small structure, but at the same time we handle a large number of projects, collaborations, volunteers and candidates day after day: more than 2,200 people used our services in 2021 alone! While we are certain that excellence, agility and focus are the keys to our day-to-day success, we mustn’t forget that we need to step back from our everyday work and keep searching for ways to improve, grow and take a fresh look at the working environment around us.” The Esade Alumni community stepped up to deliver precisely what the foundation needed. “In just a few days’ time, these great professionals managed to understand our needs, our pains, and work on innovative solutions with the aim of improving and promoting our organisation,” said Ballús. “I can assure you that this experience has given us a long list of tasks to implement, and we are convinced that they will make a difference for our future. Thank you for helping us reach more vulnerable women, and thank you for helping us change their lives and the lives of their families!”

Meet some of the participants

We would like to highlight the diversity of the participants’ backgrounds, the efficiency of the work method, the usefulness of the Hackathon for the Quiero Trabajo Foundation and, finally, the fact that most participants described the Hackathon as a great learning experience.

Ivo Güell (Strategic Marketing Management 01)
“The Hackathon is an immersive experience that is hard to match. It is a challenge where the participants are very talented. The pressure of time and of the game itself makes you vibrate at an unusual frequency. You relive scenarios of healthy competition, humour, strength and mental pressure with colleagues with whom networking is always a ‘DEFCON 5’ luxury. Missing out on it is a crime.”

Isabel de Trincheria (Advanced HR Management 03)
“The Esade Alumni and Big Bloom team made it easy. They ‘plugged us in’ to give us the energy to keep going. I am left with the gratifying feeling of having contributed to the Quiero Trabajo Foundation and, indirectly, to the reintegration of women. I hope that it will have an impact on society. We were faced with the challenge of proposing a solution to a problem and having to bring our ideas down to a level of concreteness that would enable action, rather than staying in dream mode. It was an enriching experience for me because of the chance to work with people from different disciplines. We created a team in record time, came up with a prototype for a solution, and sorted out our differences and overcame minor obstacles related to availability – and in the end, everybody won. I am now a Hackathon lover!”.

Elisabet Pont
“I had never participated in a Hackathon before. My expectations were very high, but in fact, the reality far exceeded them. My team was great. We got along very well right from the start. We started working as a team from the very first minute. It was such a good experience that we’ve agreed to meet up one day for drinks. Honestly, what this experience gave me was the chance to meet great people and collaborate with a foundation that does such important work. Being able to offer them our idea and help them with their outreach and growth was very gratifying.”

Verne Oliver Henderson (MBA 87)
“My participation was exciting for four main reasons. First, the feeling of fulfilment that came from voluntarily helping other people – in this case, both an NGO and women at risk of social exclusion. Second, it was great to relive the Esade camaraderie of working together to achieve a goal on a deadline. We all felt the same way and shared the same work ‘rules’ to get the job done. Third, by chance I had recently taken an online course on design thinking, so I was grateful for the timely opportunity to apply it in the real world. And finally, it was great to share this experience with other alumni and to come together so quickly to form a team.”