Meet The New 2021 GrandMaster Challenge Winner!

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Apr 14, 2021


Kristin Hughes

Congratulations!!  What is it?? 😊

That was the first thing most people said to me when I announced that I won the 2021 SourceCon Grandmaster Challenge.  If you are not in the recruiting and sourcing world (and even if you are) you may not be familiar with this competition.  It is a global, yearly challenge that will put your sourcing skills to the test.  It is a series of challenges and kind of like an online scavenger hunt to test your ability to find people and information online.

The first round of the challenge was timed and open to anyone – you had 1 hour to complete as many questions as possible.  You could not move onto Q2, until you answered Q1 and so on.  This first round is similar to the bi-annually held hackathons, live at the SC conference.  The top 13 were moved onto the final round – we had only 5 from the USA and the rest were from other countries!

The second round is MUCH more in-depth and requires commitment.  A desire to be tested and challenged to your utmost limits and the ability to still keep clawing your way to the answer.  I probably spent around 30+ total hours in front of my computer screen, at night, after working all day, working on this challenge.  It is the ‘not-giving up’ that got me the victory.  In fact, I squeezed in my last right answer about an hour before the challenge closed!  (Don’t stop!!!).

Without further ado, here is the premise of the challenge as well as a few of the questions and how I went about solving them. You can try Round 1 and many any other past challenges FREE on (thank you Jan Tegze!).  I highly recommend going through these to strengthen your skills for the next Grandmaster (but you’ll have to wait until next year – this one’s mine). 😊 😊 😊

Setup: Q1 described the data set we would need to find; then we would pull from that data set to find our answers. 

You are working at a U.S. staffing company and your job is to hire people who have experience currently working with companies who have FDA Emergency Use Authorization to produce Personal Protective Equipment. You have found these people and submitted them to your client.

Your client, Vandelay Industries, is in the US and so the candidates will need to be in the United States. Here’s the thing about the owner of the company, Art Vandelay. You might remember him from the GM challenge a couple of years ago when he was trying to track down the publishing rights to a Hungarian cookbook, oh that was so frustrating! Don’t get me started! 

Anyway, Art wants to interview the following people but you have to figure out who they are and answer his questions about them first. Art is a strange duck. 

You’ll see. 

Good luck.

I have underlined and highlighted what I thought to be important information.  As in sourcing, you need to nail down what the actual important skills are and build your pipeline from there – there will always be a lot of misinformation/red herrings to distract you from the overall goal.

You pull that list of companies from the FDA website:

There are 16 companies on your list (prior to March 2021).  Now you know each candidate will currently be working for one of these companies and they will be located in the US.  We also know that they have PPE somewhere in their job title or work experience – this was a hint given to us after the start of the challenge; it helped narrow it down to around 35 or so potential candidates.  (go into LinkedIn and enter US for location, all the current companies, and PPE as a keyword in the job title) – you can also do a Boolean search on google that will pull the same data set.

Now the fun part!

But before we get into it…. I do want to preface that, in hindsight, these are a lot less complicated than we all made them.  Once you are organized and take the time to lay it all out and understand it, then it seems so easy.  <face palm> But with the pressure of time and competition they are viewed from a very different lens – there is a lesson there too I think.

Q2: I want to interview this person from the State where you can Feed Your Soul. That person tweeted a blog article that states the number of construction fatalities that year. I have a fascination with numbers. What is that number?

As you can see – it is not asking for the candidate… it’s asking for information around a potential candidate.  Let’s work it:

  • The first thing to identify is the “State where you can Feed your Soul” – google search that and you come up with Louisiana.
  • Narrow down our data set/candidate list to who is from Louisiana – only one – Joel Tedder.
  • On his LI profile, he has a link to his Twitter page (under contact info).
  • He only has one tweet – about “trends in…fall protection” – and you find the answer “991”.

Q3: This person is an attorney and works for a company negotiating purchasing agreements. According to Dun and Bradstreet, what is the last name of the Key Principal of that company?

This one challenged every single person (and was the last one I got correct).  There was a “typo” in the question… it says the candidate “works” for a company…and the answer lies in the verbiage “worked” for a company (past tense).  This held me up forever and may have been a mistake by the creators – BUT….. how many times do you get misinformation when sourcing for a job; maybe a strange requirement gets thrown in that is not important.  It takes thinking outside of the box and finally at the last minute I decided to try the past tense and came up with the answer very quickly…

When you type in the LI Search bar: negotiate purchase agreements, immediately a “General Counsel” for Honeywell pops up.  She was doing this when she worked at a past company (2004-2007) – Premier.  Go enter that into D&B free search and you come up with the Key Principle and answer.

Q5: Now this person is skilled in Allen-Bradley PLC and once worked at a ski lodge in Utah. In November 2020, the lodge shared the menu for their café on Instagram. According to the menu, how much does a shot in the dark cost in US Dollars (answer in a number only)?

Type in Allen-Bradley PLC into LI search bar and Ian Mason is the only person that pops up.  He worked as Goldminers Daughter Lodge (ski lodge in Utah) back in 2014.  Go to their website and they have a café called Slopeside café.  They also have the menu posted there and a “Shot in the Dark” costs $5.  You can verify by going to their Instagram page, but 5 is the answer.


In a past job, this person wore a halo, and so did his boss. Interestingly, his boss was born just a few miles from the current home of the 2018 SourceCon Grandmaster. What was his boss’s first job after high school? (The answer is two words)

This one was tricky.  I was thinking maybe an “angel investor” – and tried a lot of Boolean combos around that. But it turns out one person on our list used to play professional baseball for the Angels!  There’s our halo.  But what about his boss?  I kept thinking current boss…tried to find an org chart, etc… the wrong path. LOL

It is referring to his boss at the time – the owner of the team.  (this also took a hint from the grandmaster committee who merely stated: “he can’t wait to be back in the saddle again… where a friend is a friend” – well that’s a Gene Autry song, and guess what?  Gene was the owner of the LA Angels and was also born near the 2018 SC Grandmaster’s current hometown.  A little Wikipedia search reveals that his first job after high school was as a “telegraph operator” – BOOM.  There’s the answer.


Her Twitter account is suspended. (Or was on 2/26/2021). She is recommended by an advocate of children, animals, and others. This advocate who endorsed her has a podcast. This podcast is sponsored by an organization whose attorney is based in New York. Every year this attorney sees hundreds of these creatures hatch in his backyard. What are these creatures?

So this one I got correct b/c I worked it backwards and didn’t actually find the ‘candidate’ or other information until after the fact.  I just thought about it in a different way and started looking up what insects (b/c what else hatches in the hundreds?) are native to New York state.  There were several that I tried but ultimately Monarch Butterflies was the correct answer. (and I have lepidopterophobia! Haha…I could see this being a future GM or hackathon question so I won’t elaborate 😉).

BUT – I also wanted to solve it, so worked on it later.  This one has a LOT of information and it can be tough to know where to start.

  • We can scroll our list for females, check out their recommendations on Linkedin and see if anyone stands out that is an animal/children advocate.
  • After reviewing several, Suzi Schweiger McNicholas was recommended by a Joseph Grove – Writer and Podcaster | Advocate for Abused and Neglected Children… I think we have our guy.
  • He hosts a podcast sponsored by Animal Wellness Action. Go to “our team” on the website and the attorney listed speaks of living in NYC and the butterflies.
  • Ahhh… that feels good.

So, there you go – I won’t go through them all and have pretty much laid the groundwork for you to get through this type of challenge on your own.  Basically, instead of pulling a list and then going from there, I think we all just did individual google Boolean searches for each question – which made it tougher and longer to solve.  This is why it’s key to have a sourcing plan when you start working on a new position – companies to target, key experiences you want, etc.  Then you may be able to find that needle in a much smaller haystack.

Again – you can try the first round of this challenge, and many others on the website!  I hope to see you at the SC Fall Conference – hopefully, we will get to meet in person this time.


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