For an organization like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), with both an enviable reach and legacy, global accolades and awards are par for the course. But May 2021 brought along a significant milestone, even by these standards. The ninth season of TCS’ homegrown competitive programming event TCS CodeVita won the Guinness World Records™ title for the world’s largest computer programming competition, with 136,054 students participating from across 34 countries.
First held in 2012 to spread awareness about coding, TCS CodeVita has helped introduce thousands of students to the concept of programming as a sport. Over the years, this online programming competition has also led to fulfilling careers at TCS for participants. Its continuing success also underscores an emerging recruitment trend – the gamification of hiring.
Said TCS CTO K Ananth Krishnan, “Long before words like hackathon became common, TCS saw the potential of programming as a sport and that inspired TCS CodeVita… this competition is fueling a passion for programming in brilliant young people with diverse educational, social, geographical, and cultural backgrounds.”
The seeds of this idea were sown over a decade ago. With coding coming to be seen as a foundational skill in a world driven by data and digital ecosystems, a need was felt to create a gamified platform that would help develop the right programming talent. TCS CodeVita was the answer – a place where young minds could interact and sharpen their skills.
To support the multiple code submissions (340,000 in Round 1 of Season 9 alone!) across seven programming languages during the six-hour participation window for TCS CodeVita, a robust and scalable platform was needed. This is where the Performance Engineering Research Centre (PERC) arm of TCS Research (then at TRDDC, Pune) stepped in to help, creating the Mooshak framework that automates the submission, compilation, and evaluation of the designed code.
While PERC built the framework that supports TCS CodeVita, what about the contest questions themselves, which attract a returning crowd of participants each year? These are curated by a community of experienced coders within TCS, called The Philacodist Club. The questions themselves range from being formula-based to algorithmic, and from ones with real-life applications to those relating to data structures. Categorized into simple, medium, and complex categories, a set of six to 10 questions appears in increasing order of complexity.
TCS CodeVita started off as a team-based competitive programming event, turning into an individual programming competition Season 6 onward. In 2015, it entered the Limca Book of Records as the largest team programming contest in India. It witnessed 197,000 student registrations, 45,861 competing teams, and over 236,900 code submissions that year.
Closing the skills gap
A partnership between the World Economic Forum (WEF) and TCS, the Closing the Skills Gap program aims to reskill or upskill 10 million people in the global workforce by 2020. This initiative has secured pledges from leading international businesses and seeks to equip 17.2 million people with digital skills. As of 2019, 6.4 million people have already been trained.
With its focus on upskilling the current workforce, preparing today’s students for 21st-century STEM careers, and empowering women, ethnic minorities, and marginalized groups, TCS’ CodeVita program aligns completely with our WEF commitment. The program has also helped in creating a cost-effective talent acquisition mechanism to seek and hone high-caliber digital talent.
Since 2014, TCS has made 11,110 offers through this program. In 2020 alone, Season 9 saw close to 3,500 total offers in the Digital and Ninja categories. Over the past couple of years, 250 students have also completed internships at TCS, with the Top 3 coders offered an opportunity to intern directly with the TCS Research and Innovation team.
At TCS, the larger goal has always been to keep investing in new talent. Whether it is through a platform like TCS NQT that democratizes hiring or through investments in contextual mastery, we are always looking at renewed models of engagement to keep talent invested. People are at the very core of our belief of being a transformation partner to customers.
With its history of connecting people with opportunities, TCS CodeVita has the potential to evolve into an on-demand and crowdsourced talent-as-a-service model that can rally a global community of designers, developers, and data scientists – a virtual talent pool – to work on the world’s most challenging problems.
Not only does this open up more opportunities for TCS employees to explore across domains, but also enables clients to harness talent based on the skills required. The engagement with an external talent pool is a cherry on top that will help speed up the development process.
The benefits are many: Lower recruitment costs, higher retention, and fast, scalable, and flexible outcome-based development. But, more importantly, this process creates a global community that will be available across locations under a pay-per-performance model, enabling enterprises to truly harness an abundance of talent.
TCS CodeVita and the expertise that comes with it can also be used to build jointly branded HR solutions alongside TCS’ recruitment and HR management clients, especially those looking for innovative workforce solutions that enhance and ease the recruitment process.
The TCS CodeVita platform also lends itself to white label solutions that connect brands to opportunities. Eventually, it is set to evolve into a global recruitment platform for IT associates or an on-demand, crowdsourced solution for temporary staffing. The future of both programming and next-gen hiring is here – and it’s a Guinness record holder!