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Innovation is in the air!

It’s important for us to partner with organisations that share our passion for diversity and innovation. One of our best corporate partners who accomplishes this is Pepperstone, who gave us an exclusive look behind the scenes of their recent Intergalactic AI Hack Days. Pepperstone was founded in 2010 in Melbourne, Australia, by a team of experienced traders with a shared commitment to improving the world of online trading. Frustrated by delayed executions, high prices and poor customer support, they set out to provide traders around the world with superior technology, low-cost spreads and a genuine commitment to helping communities like ours master the trade. 

Today, Pepperstone is an award-winning Australian online broker known for CFD trading, operating under the supervision of regulatory authorities like ASIC in Australia and regulatory authorities in six other world regions. With a global presence spanning Melbourne, London, Düsseldorf, Dubai, Limassol, Nassau, and Nairobi, Pepperstone's reach is pervasive.

We spoke with Cathy Wu, Principal Data Scientist, to get the inside scoop on these Hack Days. It all began with an open call for ideas aimed at harnessing the power of AI to streamline workflows, organise data, enhance efficiency, and tackle various challenges. The Pepperstone team delivered nearly 60 new proposals ranging from employee chatbots to trading coaches, brand voice optimisation, and more. 

Cathy and the team played the role of expert judges, carefully selecting nine ideas based on customer benefits, alignment with business strategy, feasibility, and impact. Cathy emphasised that one of the core principles of a Hack Day is ensuring that the ideas directly tackle real-world business problems. 

Over the next two days, in the spirit of one of Pepperstone's core values, "Courageous in Collaboration', nine diverse teams, consisting of members from Pepperstone's eight global offices, built working prototypes of their pitches. 

Cathy even joined one of the groups as their AI expert, providing technical support to a team of marketing, front-end, back-end, and data engineers. Together, they created a prototype for "PepperLingo," a bot designed to provide feedback on written content, ensuring it aligns with the brand's voice.

It’s impressive to hear how much interest there was across all departments in advanced AI techniques, with even board members wholeheartedly backing the adoption of AI.  Even non-technical team members were interested in learning about the intricacies of such language models. Although that could have been the allure of winning that created a healthy competition and a fun atmosphere during the Hack Days.

In the end, one idea emerged as the leader, as voted by executive members and the Pepperstone team. The team’s next step involves incorporating these winning ideas into an AI roadmap, transforming prototypes into actual products.

If you’re interested in a career in Data Science, Cathy offers some valuable guidance:

“It's never too late to start learning about data science. Begin with online courses or consider enrolling in postgraduate programs. Get hands-on experience with modelling tasks to showcase your problem-solving skills with ML/AI. While not mandatory, having publications in prestigious AI conferences can boost your resume. Participate in ML/AI Challenges or competitions like Kaggle to hone your skills. Join local communities to stay informed about Data Science trends”.

Pepperstone's Intergalactic AI Hack Days were a testament to the team’s commitment to innovation, teamwork, and excellence. It’s encouraging to see an organisation that we admire take an active approach to building new, diverse products for the future of tech, with an all-hands-on-deck strategy to ensure as many perspectives within the Pepperstone team are heard.

We are so happy for Pepperstone and the success of these Hack Days, and we hope to see more companies open-source contributions to create something bigger than themselves. It is a journey for all of us to be involved in building the next generation of technology, and we can’t wait to see the new frontiers Pepperstone will take on next.

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