Extia’s Online Coding Challenge: Bringing Code and Solidarity Together

Extia coding challenge

Extia, French engineering consulting firm, know how to take care of their employees. In fact, the proof is in the pudding! They were awarded 1st place in this year’s Great Place To Work® France ranking.

“Rather than finding someone to take on a project assignment, we recruit people, personalities. Our business engineers search and select the most fitting and intriguing assignments for these professional personalities. Today, 80% of our recruitments are done this way,” – Juliette, HR Operational Efficiency Manager. 

Consistent in their approach, Extia implement a well-structured support strategy and launch multiple initiatives to promote the personal and professional development of their employees.

Their latest project to date is an online Clash of Code tournament. On April 23rd 2020, over 30 developers battled it out in fierce coding matches. Each clash lasted 5 to 15 minutes and participants stayed at it for over two hours!

In the midst of the Covid-19 health crisis, the event was as benevolent as it was fun. Each participation meant a contribution to a donation fund for the Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpitaux de France foundation.

The aim of this grand tournament? 

  • To maintain the bubbling and collective dynamic of Extia’s business communities (Comet’ by Extia) during lockdown 
  • To engage with teams in France and in Europe through an exciting online event

In this exclusive interview, Constance (IT Recruitment Manager) and Juliette (Operational Efficiency Manager) tell us how they keep their remote teams close and connected – and how CodinGame plays a part in their team building strategy. 

Can you tell us more about “Comet’ by Extia”?

Juliette: Here at Extia, we’ve set up exchange groups called business communities, or “Comet’ by Extia”. The communities are made up of tech consultants who share common interests and skills: computer development, infrastructure and cyber security.

There are 30 such communities in the group, spread out across our agencies in France and Europe. 

The consultants meet up at lunchtimes or in the evenings to take part in training sessions, debate sessions, etc.

So as to encourage participation, we’ve gamified the Comet’ system. Those who take part in Comet’ activities and meetups earn points and unlock budget. Points can be used for training courses, trade show tickets, etc. and budget can be used to undertake group projects.

Constance: We make a priority of employee satisfaction and involvement. We strive to engage and delight our teams. Employee well-being is key to our success, as is recruitment, and CodinGame is a valuable partner in both of these respects (Clash of Code for team building and CodinGame Assessment for tech recruitment). 

What made you decide to organize a Clash of Code event?

Juliette: The health crisis majorly changed our work logistics and we weren’t sure how we were going to keep our communities alive and buzzing. 

We organized our first online event at the end of March, focused on agility (speakers shared their experience and expertise – a little like a webinar!). It was very interesting, but we wondered how we could get people to interact more, challenge each other and spark discussions? How could we make the event more interactive, more than “I’m sat in front of a screen listening”?

Constance: We found the interactive format we were looking for with Clash of Code. Everyone was able to actively participate. It truly was a fantastic event to organize for remote teams.

Juliette: Indeed! Plus, we’d been trying for some time to organize an event that would bring together business communities from several agencies.

Our business communities are geographically linked to their parent agency. There are meetups in Lille, Lyon, Paris and so on. Organizing transverse events was something we’d been wanting to do to federate our agencies. 

We just had to find the right tool!

April’s Clash of Code event was the first event that allowed us to bring all of our developer communities together at once, regardless of their agency or location.

How did you encourage team participation?

Constance: Since we wanted to get as many developers involved as possible, we had to communicate fairly quickly. Since there was no technical setting up to do on our side (CodinGame took care of the technical side of things), we could concentrate on communication and promotion.

Juliette: Valérie, the person in charge of Comet’ by Extia, also helped us communicate with community ambassadors and motivate participants.

What did the day of the event look like? 

Juliette: We’d booked a two-hour time slot, from 6 to 8pm on a Thursday evening (the usual community meetup time slot). 

Participants logged in at 6pm to start the challenge. 

At the same time, Valerie hosted a live chat where participants could ask questions or simply share and celebrate their progress.

In the end, everything was really quite simple.

What did participants think of the event?

Juliette: The main thing that was brought to our attention was that it was a lot of fun. Participants really liked the fact that there were several different types of coding exercises. They found it both bemusing and challenging. 

Some of them also liked the fact that you could choose your programming language

Actually, those who used Python seemed to have the advantage. They managed to complete more clashes than others. We think we might limit the number of clashes next time – for the sake of fairness! 

Python
Is Python a lucky Clash of Code language?

Overall, they found it innovative and fun: feedback was definitely positive. 

How many people took part?

Juliette: 48 registered and 34 took part on the day – more than we’d hoped for!

Would you say that the event met your expectations?

Juliette: Totally. Our team building aim was to put together an interactive event and with a reasonable number of participants (despite having announced the event only a week before and the fact that the time slot wasn’t necessarily ideal for everyone) – and we did! As for fundraising, we managed to raise 650 euros for the Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpitaux de France foundation, which was more than we’d expected! 

In terms of involvement, format and solidarity, it was all very positive!

Anything you’d like to add?

Constance: What I’ll remember about this event is how easy it was to set up. It hardly required any work. In fact, all we had to do was announce the event! 

Juliette: Valérie confirmed that the various communities really enjoyed the event. She told us that participants were really keen to take part in a second Clash of Code event. Several even asked, “When’s the next one?!”

Want to find out more about our team events? Get in touch.

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Nathalie Morris

Nathalie Morris

Nathalie is CodinGame for Work’s content manager. When she's not busy creating quality content for HR pros, chances are she’s watching Friends, baking, or snuggling her little grey cat, Moon.