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How HackerRank Helped Manulife Save $200k+ By Bringing Developers Careers to Life

Written By Aditi Chandrasekar | December 1, 2020

Manulife Interview blog header

When people with a passion for technology get together, they create things that change the world. 

That’s the framework for hiring engineers at Manulife Financial Corporation. We sat down (virtually, of course) with Naveed Zahid, Director, Engineering Transformation and Liana Calleri, Talent Acquisition Consultant to discuss how Manulife leverages HackerRank to provide unlimited opportunities for their engineers to develop and succeed throughout their careers. 

Listen to the full interview hosted by Aadil Bandukwala, Director of Marketing at HackerRank, or read below for the highlights. 

1. How do you provide unlimited opportunities for your employees to develop and succeed?

Liana Calleri

We really are on a digital transformation journey and a big foundation of that is the talent within technology. 

About two years ago, we created an IT career framework at Manulife to attract, develop, and retain IT talent. It really aligned with what a lot of other tech companies were doing and continued to follow as well. This framework continues to provide dual career tracks for managers and subject matter experts. It’s enabling us to have a dynamic work environment and provide a win-win for the employees and the company. 

We’re also using a ton of different technologies, including JavaScript, React, Node.js, GraphQL, JMeter, New Relic, and Azure to name a few. 

Culture matters here. And we are sure to tie this into as an opportunity to develop and succeed. Especially in these times, we are staying connected and engaged as much as we can. 

2. What does it really take to bring developers' careers to life?

Naveed Zahid

At Manulife, we focus on having a number of key initiatives that narrow in on that career development of our engineers—which should be front and center for being competitive and innovative in this industry. 

Our IT career framework allows our engineers to have very clear expectations of not only what the role entails, but more importantly, how do they get promoted in our organization. So that's the foundation we have established at Manulife to help embrace that idea.

But it goes beyond that. Manulife invests heavily in the learning and growth of our employees with Manulife University. This two-week program offers various different streams including software engineering, quality engineering, reliability engineering, performance engineering, platform engineering and security engineering programs. 

But what sets Manulife University apart is that it’s both practical and hands on. We have something called a “proof of technology” where after they've completed their learning phase, they have the opportunity to apply the technologies they were just taught. This is where technologies like React, GraphQL, AKS, and New Relic really come into play. Not only do we teach them, but they get to actually use it. This framework has been highly successful at Manulife. 

To us, building that engineering community and culture at Manulife really is important. We conduct internal hackathons that we run quarterly, and strive to celebrate our engineers so we can ensure they’re collectively working together to build great things and innovate. 

3. Can you share a couple key metrics that matter the most as an engineering leader?

Naveed Zahid

Recruiting for engineers is so competitive right now. And finding the right individual is even harder. 

One of the holy grail metrics that we look at from a recruiting standpoint is trying to minimize the overall time required within the hiring process for both the interviewer and candidate. This keeps our engineers focused on their work and allows us to stay constantly competitive with other tech companies that are trying to attract top talent individuals. The golden standard for us is less than two weeks from that initial contact to that offered letter. 

Additionally, we are trying to find opportunities for automating the onboarding experience for our engineers—so the overall experience is exceptional for our future employees. For us, it’s all about how to minimize time-to-attract talent as much as possible. We also try to capture those metrics and opportunities to improve our recruiting process overall. 

Liana Calleri

I want to point out, this is not just about talent acquisition. This is implementing company-wide diversity and inclusion efforts as well. Over the next two years, Manulife and John Hancock are investing more than $3.5 million to promote this diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and in the communities we serve. So it’s a really dynamic time to be a part of something like this. 

The goals are threefold:

  1. Increase the representation of diverse talent at all levels in the organization. 
  2. Create greater inclusion across the company through our enhanced training. 
  3. Support organizations helping POC communities. 

We also have initiatives like Women in Tech and mentorship programs that all tie back to retention and enhancing our engineering program, so our engineers can thrive in their careers.

4. How does HackerRank fit into your hiring process?

Liana Calleri

I would say one of the most important aspects of how we hire here at Manulife is to minimize bias in our hiring practices. HackerRank allows us to remove bias and focus on the technical competence of the individual. 

Using the unbiased scoring system, we can achieve this because candidates can complete tests at home and on their own schedule. This has been a great success for us as a hiring company.

5. How are you measuring the success of the HackerRank platform?

Naveed Zahid

The goal was to leverage the Developer Skills Platform to ensure a solid hiring strategy for our engineering teams. During the Plan phase of the Developer Skills Platform, we started looking at our overall roles and levels at Manulife, leveraging that IT career framework. 

HackerRank has enabled us to start curating tests that we are sending out as part of our at-home assessment and leveraging it for our Codepair* entries. 

This simplified scoring mechanism has made it so much easier for our recruiters and hiring managers to identify that top talent with a high level of confidence and eliminate any bias.

For the Interview phase, we leverage Codepair* as part of our engineering hiring panel. This allowed us to interact with our candidates as naturally as possible to assess their skills and see how they collaborate with the engineers in our organization. This is really important at Manulife because we have situations where our engineers have to pair with other engineers. 

We love how we’re able to capture feedback from multiple interviewers at the same time, which is really instrumental at minimizing that bias during that Codepair* interview. 

We're really excited about applying the Rank feature in how we're identifying talent and selecting candidates. I know that functionality was just recently introduced, but we are really excited to start embedding that as part of our process as well. 

To date, we have completed about 230 Codepair* interviews. And while those numbers are great, we wanted to look at it from a return on investment perspective. 

At Manulife, we’ve calculated a savings of about $215,000 since 2019 because HackerRank allows us to feel confident that we're only bringing candidates that we feel have the skills that we're looking for, as well as the fit to that Codepair* interview. So, when you start taking a look at the overall return on investment, we do feel that HackerRank has been widely successful at Manulife.

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