Back to Engineering Blog

Ramping Up the Next Generation of Technology Leaders: Inside the First Ever LiveRamp Innovation Competition

  • - Ramnik Kaur
  • 4 min read

LiveRamp Engineering is all about connections.

My name is Ramnik Kaur and I’m the Senior Director of Engineering Infrastructure.  We are proud to partner with LiveRamp’s Talent Acquisition team.

Today, we connect with Lauren Kingcade, Diversity Attraction Leader at LiveRamp, who will share the details of the competition and why LiveRamp should be a top choice for engineering graduates seeking to make an impact. 

Lauren, can you please describe this inaugural event?

In Spring of 2022, computer science majors at Howard University participated in our first LiveRamp Innovation Competition. In addition to $30,000 in scholarships,  nineteen students received a peek into life at LiveRamp and powerful knowledge to prepare them for the future. A joint effort of the diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIB) and engineering teams at LiveRamp, the students spent the semester learning the phases of innovation, how to effectively pitch for business funding, and the importance of data ethics to a business’ scalability and success. 

What was the goal of this competition and why did it launch at Howard University?

Increasing representation of minorities in tech is a major initiative that is critical to solving diversity disparities that exist in the industry. According to a report published in March 2022 by the Kapor Center and the NAACP, Black professionals occupy 3.7% of technical roles at large tech companies, despite making up 13% of the overall labor force. The goal of our college initiative, Ramp U, is to cultivate relationships with minority students and positively impact their communities, educational experiences, and professional mobility. The innovation competition is an opportunity to provide the students with real-world experience and expose them to opportunities. This is our contribution to help shift the diversity ratios in tech. Howard has a rich legacy of developing exceptional minority talent and it is the first of many minority-serving institutions we plan to partner with. 

How is this competition different from a hackathon? 

Typical hackathons are shorter engagements involving less staff and focus solely on solving a problem. Throughout the competition the students learned from LiveRampers across the company including our Engineering, Commercial, and Talent Acquisition teams. We partnered with Eric Williams, founder of the Alistair Chanelle consulting group and Howard alumnus, to tailor the curriculum to the competition focusing on the stages of innovation. Sales enablement lead, Brittany Mitchell provided an amazing, in-depth introduction to our products and services. Senior manager of engineering, Luca Saldanha provided thoughtful feedback to the students on their solutions. Enterprise data architect, Kannan D.R. and platform architect, Abhishek Jain acted as LiveRamp engineering coaches, fielding questions and giving advice, as well as Laura Davis, head of engineering branding. Head of cloud partnerships, Katrina Cho led a special session on developing a winning pitch deck. Tabitha Hadley and Johnel Ellison from LiveRamp Talent Acquisition hosted a career workshop providing job seeking tips and information about job opportunities at LiveRamp. Our goal was for the students to have a 360-degree view of life at LiveRamp and preparation for the next step in their career. 

What was the challenge and what were the results?

Having access to real and representative data is critical to the work we do at LiveRamp. However, most databases dealing with customer data contain directly identifiable personal data, and need to be pseudonymous with representative data in order to protect the identity of our customers. The students were challenged to create an automated solution that allows real data to be used for application development without any directly identifiable personal data being revealed to developers or any unauthorized downstream applications or users.

The students developed amazing clickable prototypes! Team Ace won first place with their solution Project Silva. We awarded each team with scholarships totaling $30,000. 

LiveRamp will continue to work with the students in the fall to develop a  minimum viable product (MVP) as part of their senior project. 

Why did you join LiveRamp?

As someone with a marketing background, I am thrilled to work in the exciting area of big data, learning how we help other companies use data efficiently. LiveRamp is experiencing tremendous growth and doing many interesting things. It’s an exciting time to join!

Why should both early career and experienced engineers choose LiveRamp?

LiveRamp values people and fosters an environment of creativity and innovation. LiveRamp’s engineering organization is composed of kind, collaborative, fun people who love solving big challenges to make their lives easier and our customer experience the best in the market. Read about the 2022 Hackathon here!

Any closing thoughts?

I truly felt empowered to lead such an impactful project with the support of the LiveRamp DIB and engineering teams. We appreciate that Associate Professor Dr. Harry Keeling at Howard University allowed us to work with his class this year.  I am honored to be a part of this and I look forward to developing our partnership with Howard and other schools.

LiveRamp is a data enablement platform designed by engineers, powered by big data, centered on privacy innovation, and integrated everywhere.

Enabling an open web for everyone.

LiveRamp is hiring!  Technical Careers@LiveRamp