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Hack-to-Help: Giving back to our societies

A rapid ideation campaign to help our people, clients and communities during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic, the threat it poses, and the changes it has driven across all sectors and industries have been a challenge. We remain positive and believe in the capabilities of our people and our business. But when this is over, we wanted to know that we lived our PwC purpose and made a difference to our people, clients and communities throughout this difficult time. That’s why we launched ‘Hack-to-help’ - a rapid ideation campaign to identify ways we can put our time and skills to good use for the benefit of those most affected by the pandemic.

The idea was simple. As a team or individual, submit a digital solution, policy perspective, product innovation, or volunteering of skills which will serve to benefit a population of our people, clients or communities.

We were heartened by the innovation, creativity and diversity in thought. Within a week, we had received 70 submissions, covering everything from predictive modelling, to AI powered chatbots and virtual consulting platforms. PwC members proved that they are equally at ease thinking out of the box and stretching their imagination for the good of the community as they are for devising solutions for clients.

Submissions were showcased on our internal G+ community, and those with the highest votes and assessed as having the highest impact, feasibility and innovation were then shortlisted and put forth to our Middle East Leadership Team for rapid review.

The final three played on our strengths of intelligent digital, our deep rooted care for the community and our involvement in the healthcare industry.

Hamish Clark and Khalid Alanezi addressed the ‘social upheaval tsunami’ mental health professionals are forecasting on the back of COVID-19, driven by anxiety, depression, isolation, and frustration. Their digital mental wellbeing app, Sunshine, would collect data on your wellbeing and direct you to the appropriate resources to help lift your spirits. These could include uplifting digital content, a clinical professional network, or even some much needed meditation and wellbeing services.

Zohaib Tahir, Hossam Hussein, and Maen Al-Tamemi identified a gap in the market, introducing a centralized social impact hub to collaborate on CSR initiatives. They worked on the premise that there is strength in numbers. Working as a team to give back to our community in the wake of the crisis would maximise impact and help unify people with similar abilities, backgrounds, and interests. Instead of disparate CSR initiatives fragmented across the region, they suggested a centralized community cloud or social impact hub through which we connect with people with similar volunteering interests, track hours, set team goals and objectives for each initiative, list partner organizations, and share our success stories.

The Tomorrow, Today team, in collaboration with Chadi Omeira and Mustafa Youssef wanted to prepare our workforce for a digitised economy and the changing demand in skills with their outplacement programme. The outplacement programme aimed to sponsor scores of people who lost their jobs during COVID-19, to acquire new and relevant skills to increase their chances of finding a job in the new world. PwC recruitment teams would help tailor their CVs of people in the programme, while a partnership with course content providers would allow for the designing and delivery of a suitable curriculum. Furthermore, by leveraging PwC’s extensive online resources to teach employable skills to vulnerable sections of our community, we could prepare them to work better in a digitally enabled sphere, plan their career, or even ideate for a new micro-venture!

Each of these three teams then progressed onto the ‘Hackathon’ phase, led by our very own Emtech lead and ideation specialist - Vincent Giborees. As they worked to bring their ideas to life, each team followed the basic principles of design thinking and rapid ideation to produce their MVP (minimum viable product). The teams then had a final pitch to the leadership team.

Since Hack to Help finished, the winning team (including Healthcare, Emtech, Digital, FFTF and Be Well, Work Well) have been super busy developing Sunshine - the Netflix for Positive Mental Wellbeing to help staff avoid burnout, be more resilient, active and healthy!

The app and digital platform will be launched to all PwC Middle East staff in September, with wider rollout around the PwC network in the new year.

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