March 22, 2018 Women’s History Month Series: Copilots Ahoy!

Here we are with another blog focusing on the women in the community. In my previous posts, I have covered top competitors and one problem writer. Although comparatively less in number, the community has women copilots as well.

Army Veteran Kelly MacLeod (ksmacleod99) is a copilot for the Veterans Community.  

In December last year, Topcoder launched the Veterans Community to help military service members and veterans transition to a career in technology. The sub-community functions in a slightly different way (we will get you more on that soon!).

Kelly is one out of the two copilots, who help new members with navigating the site and understand how it works better. She also works toward getting more Vets to join the platform along with organizing the community’s own version of contests/challenges.   

She works for a non-profit organization called Operation Code, which has a partnership with TopCoder. That is how she got acquainted with the Topcoder model.

“OpCode is an organization that helps veterans and their families with resources to get into software development and tech. So, the Vet Community at TopCoder and OpCode were natural partners, and I’m excited to see that relationship continue.”

I asked her what made her opt for a career with Topcoder after service.

“I am actually working on changing careers, so I think Topcoder’s competition-based model is great for devs to get a “foot in the door” into the industry. Additionally, I love that TopCoder is applying that model to the Veterans Community to work on projects that benefit veterans. I wanted in on that, especially to help guide other vets through learning to code.”

The conversation veered towards how she saw Vets, particularly women, contributing to the community as a whole. Kelly had a very precise take on that.

“Vets generally like simplicity. We like to get straight to the point – what do you need from me, by when, and what’s the standard? So you are going to see vets ask for simplicity and return simplicity. Please don’t misunderstand – we don’t cut corners. But we will find the simple, elegant solution. As for our women vets – you know those posts about women wanting to be forces of nature, other-worldly, and a little frightening? We’re already there. We’ll lead the way.”

Talking on women leading the way, one of the top co-pilots that Topcoder Community boasts of, is a woman from Jordan. Marwa or Maroosh – as she’s better known – joined Topcoder in 2014.

She won 12 challenges before becoming a co-pilot full time. Maroosh also has the distinction of being the ONLY studio copilot ever to win a TCO trip as a design copilot, till date. That’s not an easy feat considering the chances of a studio co-pilot to win is very low competing against the development track.

In her capacity as a co-pilot, Maroosh recorded an incredible success rate of 98% and managed over 550 challenges. She also earned multiple badges for her accomplishments, such as providing more than 250 passing submissions, and participating in Crowd for Good challenges.

Last but not the least, she has also been a finalist in Topcoder’s Studio Cup–a prestigious award within the Topcoder Design Community.

Following in Maroosh’s footsteps we have more women in the community opting to become project co-pilots. Dara_K (Daniela) is one of the most known faces within the community. A multi-year TCO finalist, and a top designer, Dara has recently turned to co-piloting. And by her own account is enjoying the experience.

Then we have Puchki (Sunita) from India. Like Daniela, Sunita has tasted success as a competitor a number of times. The next step for her was to become a copilot, quite naturally. She’s on a break now, but we are sure gonna see a whole lot of co-piloting from her.

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