Changing the Game with Innovation

We pride ourselves on being a leader in digital transformation. And we don’t have to go far for big ideas: we just turn to the brilliant minds of our employees, who have significant opportunity to drive innovation.

Two Dell employees that participated in the Game Changers competition
Mike Saravayskiy, Mikhail Tolstoy, Yuri Kotov (not pictured) and Igor Matveevskiy (not pictured), the winners of this year’s GameChangers.

GameChangers is a global innovation competition run by the Dell GenNext Employee Resource Group (ERG) focused on Early in Career Professionals. Through GameChangers, employees showcase their ideas and network with co-workers and executives around the globe. The 6th annual competition just finished, and the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit was as apparent as ever.

This year, 640 employees in 65 teams from 20 countries competed. The executive sponsors narrowed the field down to four finalists – from Russia, Israel, and the United States – all who traveled to the Dell headquarters in Round Rock, TX, for the big event. The four categories presented were Legacy of Good, Cognitive Technologies, IT Transformation, and Open Ended. The very spirited team from Russia won for their entry in the Open Ended category.

I had the honor of attending this event and witnessing these game changing ideas first hand. The teams were impressive, to say the least, and I felt proud to work for a company that is open to change and to suggestions from employees at all levels.

In talking with the competitors, one thing that stood out to me was that the GameChangers competition not only provided an opportunity for competitors to innovate, it supported them while they did. One of this year’s winners, Mikhail Tolstoy, said that GameChangers impressed upon him that “Dell is ready to spend money and, more importantly, time to work with you if you reach out.”

First off, a series of online courses, called GameChangers University, helped the teams think like entrepreneurs and fill gaps in their expertise. As they progressed in the competition, team members were matched with mentors that provided the senior level access to data and contacts they needed. Tolstoy found that very helpful.

“Our mentors helped by giving us a ton of useful advice and sharing the financial, customer, and presentation expertise that we as engineers do not necessarily have,” he said.

“They helped us to forge our idea almost into a kind of business plan,” added his teammate Mike Saravayskiy.

I asked this year’s winners if they had any advice for would-be innovators.

“If you want to succeed as a company and be innovative, it is not enough to just do your job,” said Tolstoy.

“Do not get stuck on one idea,” added Saravayskiy. “Tell your manager what you’re thinking, have a lunch with engineering and discuss implementation, have a dinner with finance to get some advice about monetization. Do not be afraid.”

winning team of Dell Game Changers competition
Phil Rasy and his 2015 GameChangers team.

At the event, I also met a former winner of the GameChangers contest, Phil Rasy. Rasy’s team won GameChangers in 2015 for their Customer360 project. His team was a diverse group of innovators brought together by the NextGen ERG and the GameChangers event. The competition gave them a chance to work collaboratively with colleagues whose paths would have otherwise not crossed; their cohesive group spanned sales, finance, operations, and marketing.

Ultimately, Rasy found the experience so compelling that he is now an organizer for the event.

“It feels great to wake up in the morning and go to work knowing that the company you work for embraces your ideas and pay very well for them,” he said. “The impact that each individual can have on the business is immeasurable. GameChangers opened up opportunities that I thought were impossible.”

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About the Author: Jenn Koiter

As the Recruitment Marketing Regional Lead for North America, Jenn Koiter is responsible for showcasing Dell Technologies as an employer to attract top talent. To that end, she creates and promotes authentic, compelling content about life at Dell. Jenn has taught at colleges and universities, worked for a cultural nonprofit, and volunteered to help end human trafficking, bonded labor, and wrongful imprisonment in India and Nepal. Jenn spent a year and a half of her tenure at Dell on the road as a digital nomad before settling on the East Coast. Jenn holds a B.A. in English and Religion from Northwestern University; an M.A. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago; and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University.