Li Chen runs operations at Major League Hacking or 'MLH' for short, which is the official student hackathon league powering over 150 hackathons each year in North America and Europe. Li has been an avid reader of Ways We Work for some time now and reached out wanting to see more people in 'behind-the-scenes' roles, so I was curious what was involved in operations management for a team that organizes events on an international scale. Li shares some of the challenges, how she's navigated her career so far and some of her process in her daily work.
Tell me about what you do?
I run operations at Major League Hacking (MLH), the official student hackathon league that powers over 150 hackathons each year in North America and Europe. We work closely with student hackathon organizers from day zero to help them put on the best possible hackathons. My role is mainly making sure the trains run on time. If I had to describe what I do day-to-day in one sentence I'd say my role is basically filling in the holes before anybody sees them [laughs].
What does your role look like with Major League Hacking?
A huge part of the job is event production. We provide a pallet worth of hardware to our sanctioned events, such as Dell and Alienware laptops, Oculus Rifts, Myos, Pebbles...etc. My team and I are also onsite to help organizers, hackers, and sponsors. I make sure flights are booked, event photographers are hired, prizes are ordered, and pallets are scheduled to arrive at each event. On a busy weekend, we can have up 7 events in the US alone. That's the event production side.
Then there's the day-to-day operations that can range from reviewing a high school hackathon’s event budget sheet, to sending MLH t-shirts and stickers to a hackathon in the Philippines. No two days are the same.