When I think about the culture of Thomson Reuters, the first word that comes to mind is “inspiring.” We have a sign in our atrium that says “Every Idea Counts.” We firmly believe that each individual has something important to contribute to our collective whole. Over the past two years, we’ve tried to nurture a more innovative attitude in the tax and accounting department. With programs like IGNITE, we continually encourage employees to find ways to innovate on a daily basis.
Simply put? We believe innovation is a team sport.
Hackfest was born with these values as its backbone. Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting has been contemplating holding a hack-a-thon at its Carrollton office for almost seven years, and it finally materialized in 2015. It was an opportunity for any employee, regardless of his or her background, to hack an idea alongside colleagues for 24 hours. The stakes were high for this marathon idea-storm: Thomson Reuters announced it would fund the winning concept in 2016.
We believe innovation is a team sport.
Strength in Numbers
We’ve offered “Hack days” over the past two years, which were an experimental and collaborative escape from the typical work day that enabled the product management team to think differently about a customer problem, product, or market. Many resulting ideas have since been implemented. Hackfest was an expanded, site-wide version of these smaller brainstorming initiatives.
At noon on July 16, we finally kicked off the event. Twenty teams consisting of 135 participants descended upon the Carrollton office. Executive sponsor and Chief Technology Officer Shannon Ulmer led an energetic opening speech where he counseled teams to make sure that when they present their hacks, they spend time to define where the innovation truly lies.
Four judges ultimately determined the outcome of this event: CTO Shannon Ulmer, CMO Tobias Lee, VP of Corporate Tax Technology Stan Guzik, and VP Head of Technology Knowledge Solutions Sejal Amin. Team Metalytics won best overall winner (with an idea to “provide a usable, workable dashboard for developers, managers, and outside customers in order to increase productivity, accuracy, and customer satisfaction”). Other ideas were recognized in different categories, like “Most Outrageous,” “Most Inspiring,” and “Most Customer-Focused.”
Providing employees with an opportunity to expose their ideas to leaders around the company was very powerful as they presented ideas that previously did not have the visibility they needed.
Collaboration at Its Finest
I enjoyed witnessing the collective creativity of our Carrollton colleagues and the unifying spirit of innovation. Differing perspectives came in handy as they each whittled an idea and shaped it to the final well-rounded, presentation-ready product. When participants pitched these ideas, I saw the level of excitement and engagement across the business. Providing employees with an opportunity to expose their ideas to leaders around the company was very powerful as they presented ideas that previously did not have the visibility they needed. Add the fact that this was organized by employees seeking to collaborate with their colleagues, and it truly was inspiring.
“Everyone was a winner,” Sai says. “This was not a one-time occurrence but rather a journey. We should always be on the lookout for opportunities to innovate and this momentum should not stop here.”
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