Over a weekend in June, Barrick was the lead sponsor of a hackathon at Schwarzman College, a new institution located on the campus of Tsinghua University in Beijing.
The hackathon, called the Global Solution Festival, took place over a 24-hour period between June 16th and June 17th. More than 100 students from Schwarzman and Tsinghua participated. The students were tasked with developing solutions targeted at global issues like poverty, climate change, education, and improving access to healthcare.
“We wanted to create something that satisfies the mission of Schwarzman College, which is to train globally-minded young people to help solve the world’s most complex challenges,” says Max Song, a Schwarzman Scholar and creator of the Global Solution Festival.
The Schwarzman Scholars program, in many ways, is the premier academic program in the world today
Schwarzman College is home to the Schwarzman Scholars program—a landmark scholarship that brings top students from around the world to China for one year of study. In the words of the College, “Schwarzman Scholars is the first scholarship created to respond to the geopolitical landscape of the twenty-first century. Whether in politics, business or science, the success of future leaders around the world will depend upon an understanding of China’s role in global trends.”
The program, which is in its first year, was created by Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment firms. Barrick is supporting a Schwarzman Scholar from Canada each year for the next 15 years.
“The Schwarzman Scholars program, in many ways, is the premier academic program in the world today,” says Tyler Godoff, Manager of Innovation Partnerships at Barrick. “Barrick’s goal is to be a leading twenty-first-century company. To achieve that, we recognize that we need to deepen our ties with China and its leading academic institutions like Schwarzman College and Tsinghua University.”
Song came up with the idea for the Global Solution Festival in early May and moved quickly with fellow Schwarzman Scholars and co-organizers, Alibek Nurkesh and Christopher-Teodor Uglea, to market the event, fund it, and find mentors. In just four weeks, they were able to recruit 22 leaders from China’s finance, energy, education, healthcare, and investment sectors to serve as mentors.
In early June, while they were still planning the event, Song attended a lunch at Schwarzman College hosted by Michelle Ash, Chief Innovation Officer at Barrick. Ash was visiting Schwarzman College with her Innovation Strategy team to talk about how Barrick is taking an open approach to innovation and leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous vehicles to transform Barrick’s operations. It was Ash and Godoff’s second visit to Schwarzman College in less than two months. During their previous visit, they met with Hayden Rodenkirchen, the Canadian Schwarzman Scholar being supported this year by Barrick.
After hearing Ash’s remarks, Song realized that Barrick was well-suited to be lead sponsor of the event and pitched Barrick on the idea. Barrick leaders discussed the opportunity and agreed that it aligned with their goals of deepening ties with the institution.
Song says that Barrick’s funding was integral to making the event happen.
“The speed with which Barrick moved from its offer to sponsor to providing us funds enabled us to pull off the event at the size and scale that we did,” Song says. “Barrick’s actions speak volumes about its willingness to think bold and to play a major role in shaping distinctive programs.”
At the conclusion of Schwarzman College’s inaugural Global Solution Festival, the winning team was presented with the Barrick Gold Corporation Prize for Social Innovation. The Prize included an engraved trophy that will be housed at Schwarzman College for future hackathons.