Team Spotlight: Leadership

Interview with: Rucha Khanolkar, President and Ashna Shah, Vice President

Rucha is a 4th year computer science and design major at Northeastern University. She was on the sponsorship team for HackBeanpot 2019, where she learned to grow her speaking and communication skills by talking to potential sponsors. This year she is back as HackBeanpot 2020’s president! When she’s not doing hackbean related things, you can find her running by the Charles 🏃🏽‍♀️or baking something new 🍰. Rucha also loves art and enjoys going to museums 🎨

Ashna is a 5th year computer science major at Northeastern University. This is her second year as HackBeanpot’s vice president 🎉and HackBeanpot is probably her one true love 💖 She loves traveling, surfing 🏄🏽‍♀️, and bike riding! Ashna is currently on co-op in San Diego at Intuit, where she has been enjoying the west coast by going on fun road trips, learning to surf, and eating all the great Mexican food San Diego has to offer.

Meet the Leadership Team!

Rucha (left) President and Ashna (right) Vice President

What does the leadership team do?

Rucha: This year we wanted to focus on making the role of the president role more specific. Instead of running logistical tasks, my role as president has been focused on creating HackBeanpot’s long-term vision and building leadership within our core team. Ashna and I have a 1:1 structure where we have 1:1’s with a different team lead each week. The purpose of this is to get feedback from our team leads and apply an iterative approach to implement new ideas and improve the structure of our organization overall.

Ashna: The role of the vice president is to work closely with the president on long-term items but make sure to keep track of short term more practical items. Last year when we defined the role of vice president, we decided the focus should be on the event logistics (scheduling, prizes, activities, etc) as well as be the overseer on the day to day happenings, and assist the president with long term items. Rucha and I talk a few hours a week to discuss event logistics teams, meeting agendas, and our long-term vision for the team. We also focus on finding a balance between improving the core team experience and keeping the event in our sights.

Tell us about leadership’s work for 2019 and how that’s changed.

Ashna: For HackBeanpot 2019, I wanted to be the vice president so that I could help enact organizational changes. 2019 was the first year we had defined teams, so organizing that was a big focus for last year. Last year, the president and vice president focused on a lot of day-to-day items. This year we wanted to do more to define the roles of the president and vice president to really embody what the leaders of an organization should be doing, and we had already established a semi-agile organizational team structure. We worked closely with Noah and Bahar, who work on our leadership training and alumni relationships. They gave us advice on different leadership activities, such as holding 1:1’s, and how to effectively run team lead meetings. Now that Rucha and I have found our groove the ideas will not stop flowing! We keep track of bigger picture items and work on building a sense of motivation for our other team members. We want to help put HackBeanpot in context for our newer team members so that we can get them excited to return and be part of the bigger picture!

In what ways have you been working on HackBeanpot’s long-term vision?

Rucha: HackBeanpot’s mission has always been centered around our hackathon and building community. Additionally, we want to make sure that each of our hackers a memorable hackathon experience. Now, we are starting to think more broadly about our internal and external goals. Internally, we want to give each core member an experience that allows them to grow and work on what they would like, whether that be building leadership skills or working on learning new technical tools.

Externally, we want to think about what HackBeanpot will look 5 or 10 years down the line. We started asking the team how they wanted the organization to expand or grow. We all listed a bunch of things we wanted to see: expanding outreach in the Boston community, getting more colleges involved, and keeping up with the creative aspects of HackBeanpot. We want to set these bigger framework goals and leave the implementation of these goals to the leaders of each year’s core team. Our aim is to give future HackBeanpot members something to look back on so that every year they are not starting from scratch. Part of this long-term vision is sharing it with the rest of the team to make sure everyone is on board with the long-term goals. We have been working on getting feedback from the team so that we can create a general list of goals for the next 5–10 years.

What is your favorite part of being on leadership for HackBeanpot?

Rucha: My favorite part is the people! Everyone brings such a unique experience to the team, and I love being able to interact with our team every week. As president, I never knew I would like long-term vision thinking or brainstorming these big ideas that feel super scary at first — but when you’re invested in the organization it is super fun! It’s great to see how much potential this organization has and think about where it can go in the long run.

Ashna: My favorite part is seeing the team grow from a larger perspective: it is really cool to reflect on the impact that I’ve had as well as watch leaders emerge from our team. Even though I have been remote for the past 7 months, I have been able to see people come together as an organization both on our smaller teams and a team as a whole. I’ve recently been really excited about HackBeanpot’s long term plans, and am curious to see where future teams take the org. I can’t wait to be back in Boston for when our busy year of planning comes together in February during a weekend of madness and some amazing team bonding! It feels great to watch our hard work pay off every year :)

Got questions for our president and vice president? Feel free to contact them at rucha@hackbeanpot.com and ashna@hackbeanpot.com!

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