The best way to learn is to do
Twelve teams with over 30 participants — composed of local IHL students, current startup founders as well as corporate employees from various industry sectors — registered to participate in the Citi x GiTSG Data Hack, a half-day hackathon organised by Citi and Girls in Tech Singapore .
The purpose of running the hackathon in partnership with Citi is two-fold, explained Wan Ting Poh, Managing Director at Girls in Tech Singapore (GIT):
- Create a learning opportunity for the community through a project
- Solve a business problem for Citi
Unlike previous GIT hackathons, this was focused on solving a specific business problem that Citi faces which involves the use of Natural Language Processing techniques, a branch of Artificial Intelligence. To encourage more people from the community to try, technical mentors were also invited to provide guidance to the participants during the hackathon itself.
Wan Ting shared:
“The best way to learn is to do – our partner at Citi is a huge supporter of encouraging and empowering more females in STEM. We are aligned in scoping out a project that has tangible outcomes and through it, allow participants to get their hands dirty and pick up some new skills.
“It makes us very proud that there are quite a few participants who are trying out NLP for the first time. This spirit of trying and learning encompasses what we hope to drive for this event and what we stand at GIT — creating a support network for women in technology.”
Jeff Dunbar, Digital Business Developer at Citi, kicked off the hacking proper with the following problem statement: Citi produces over 3,000 publications every month for our clients. These publications range widely in terms of length, from a few paragraphs to multiple pages. It is a client request to ready a summary before consuming the full article.
“Our hackathon aims to solve a real business need. I don’t want to read 30 pages into a research paper before realising that it’s wasting my time. Send me only those articles that matter to me,” Jeff explained.
At the end of a 2.5 hour sprint, the goal was to create a functioning prototype of a summarising tool that summarises an input publication from Citi. The teams would deliver a 3min presentation followed by a 2min Q&A with a judging panel that included:
- Natalie Marko Nietsch, Pan Asia Head, Core Sales, Client Strategy, Global Investor Sales, Markets, Citi
- Agrim Singh, D10X Innovator, Hacker in Residence
- Rahul Puri, Corporate Sales & Solutions, Corporate Salesperson, Markets, Citi
Summarytime Sadness emerged as the winning team to walk away with S$1,000 worth of cash and prizes. Team Data Camp and Team Enthusiasts finished first and second runners-up respectively.
It was a rare sight for Singapore’s central business district to be hosting such energy and productivity on a Saturday afternoon, but it was also one that was definitely well spent. Tasha Abdul Mutalib, Advisory Board Member at Girls in Tech Singapore, summed it up nicely: “It’s so inspiring to hear the stories of those who have joined us today – from students working on a consumer banking brief totally foreign to them, to a pair of women who started building their solution the night before – one with only a foundational understanding of Python!
We’re hoping to do more events like these and help the community build bridges to corporates and mentors, tackling problems that impact us all with fresh eyes. I’d ask everyone to think about their next conference, panel discussion or hackathon — and encourage, design for, or include women specifically; when we do this, everyone wins.”
Citi’s corporation innovation journey
In the event’s opening remarks, Natalie commented that “Citibank is really more of a technology company now than it is a traditional banking firm.”
According to her, Citi has involved more than 100,000 employees and invested more than US$8 billion in technology in the past year alone. They are currently operating 3 different types of corporate innovation initiatives across the globe.
- Citi Innovation Labs: Using new web, mobile, supply chain and analytics technologies to engage Citi’s institutional clients more innovatively and to create the most effective solutions and products for them.
- D10x: an incubator that provides employees with the opportunity to generate and test new ideas in financial services, validating whether or not a proposed product solves a client need early on in the development process.
- Citi Ventures: Citi’s corporate venture capital arm founded in 1972, based in Palo Alto with a presence in Tel Aviv and Singapore. The fund has invested in 42 companies, and exited from 13.