Interview: “Game of Drones”, Parrot’s AI challenge

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Claire Bourdin and Marie-Charlotte Colin, Recruitment Managers at Parrot, recall the AI challenge Game of Drones, organized with us this past March. An operation crowned with success that allowed Parrot to meet new talent who combine passion with creativity.

Awarding of prizes to the winners of this first edition, in presence of Henry Seydoux, CEO.

Hello Claire and Marie-Charlotte, can you introduce to us Parrot and its R&D team?

Parrot is a French company that designs, develops, and markets high-technology products for the general public in the areas of smartphones and tablets as well as infotainment solutions for cars. The R&D team consists of more than 550 people; we develop the entire product, ranging from microchips and applications, to mechanics, hardware, etc.

How was the idea at Parrot to organize a coding challenge born?

We have many job vacancies in software development. There is a shortage on the market for experienced candidates and these profiles are very highly sought after. We were looking for new ideas to attract developers as well as to overstep the criterion of diploma, and an online challenge appeared to be a perfect opportunity to communicate with the targeted developers by other means than the traditional recruitment networks.

What were your goals and prerequisites for the event?

Through the organization of a unifying event characterized as a game, our goal was to allow developers who are not job hunting to meet Parrot, and to give them a desire to change working environments while discovering our products, our managers, our developers and our offices. We thus imagined with CodinGame an artificial intelligence challenge that took place online over two weeks and plunged the players into Parrot’s world of drones. The players had to program an army of drones equipped with the best artificial intelligence and the best strategy for conquering a territory sought-after by the enemy: "Game of Drones" was born. By extension, the challenge was a means of assessing the participants skills and motivation.

What were the determining criteria in the choice of CodinGame as a partner?

A few weeks before Game of Drones, we had sponsored a first challenge with CodinGame that allowed us to recruit one person. But it is above all the responsiveness of the CodinGame team, which was able to treat our requests on very short notice, and the performance of the platform, which convinced us in our choice to work with them again on a challenge tailored specifically for Parrot!

Tell us how the challenge played out and what were the highlights!

The online challenge was a real success: it gathered more than 1400 participants from all horizons who accumulated among themselves several dozen thousands of hours of playtime in the challenge. Internally at Parrot, word of mouth was effective and several employees came to us to thank us for this initiative and to tell us they had been truly engaged with the game outside of working hours :)

On the logistics side, what did you set up internally to host the competition?

At the end of the two weeks of challenge, we organized an open day at Parrot to which we invited the 200 highest ranked players to come discover the jobs at Parrot, and our projects, during the course of workshops. To add some fun, we planned drone-piloting challenges as well as a quiz on the world of Parrot that allowed winners to leave with Flower Powers, our latest connected objects. A pizza truck was also present on the premises, adding a little to the global effect :)

How was the event shared and experienced by your technical teams?

Our R&D teams were thrilled to participate in the open day, to welcome the players and to tell them about their daily life at Parrot. Moreover, we had very positive feedback from Parrot developers who participated in the challenge themselves! The game was addictive and they're all awaiting the next one…

In the end, did the result meet your expectations?

Concerning the quality of the event and the feedback in terms of communication, we are delighted. From an external point of view, the challenge was very well relayed in the press and contributed in a very positive manner to our employer brand. The most gratifying feedback for us came without any doubt from the participants themselves, who strongly supported the adventure. On the recruitment side, the operation was a real success since one month later we’ve already been able to recruit 5 people including the winner of the competition!

In your opinion, what is the real advantage of a CodinGame online challenge compared to a traditional recruitment event (exposition, open day…)?

The challenge allowed us to approach programming enthusiasts who don’t have the standard resume of an engineer (study/curriculum). Moreover, many talented developers are not engaged in an active job search and therefore are not visible on traditional recruitment channels: such an event allowed us to engage with them in a more open and informal way.

What were, for you, the most positive points in this collaboration with CodinGame? Would you have any suggestions for areas of improvement?

The responsiveness of the CodinGame teams concerning our requests, their efficiency as well as their support are very positive points. Our area for improvement is pretty standard; we had very little time on our agenda for both the launch of the challenge and for organizing the open day. With a little more anticipation, we would be able to arrange more post-challenge follow ups and to meet even more people.

And for the future, do you foresee other events of this type?

We hope that the challenge will become a key event for Parrot and the developers!

Discover the pictures of Parrot's Open Day on Google + or Facebook!

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