Lessons from Winning the Grandmaster Challenge

Here are some important lessons I’ve learned from winning last year’s Grandmaster Challenge (and why you should also try).  Just a few months ago I was in a hotel room in Paris, after a hectic day of work with a client.  Suddenly, I received a video call on Messenger: My sourcing buddies Susanna Frazier and Cyndy Davis were attending SourceCon Seattle. An important announcement was going to happen, and I had to pay attention to it.

The next things I saw were a bit confusing: A stage full of lights, and Batman announcing that I was the winner of the 2019 SourceCon Grandmaster Challenge (the first non-native English speaker, and second European!)

I couldn’t believe it! I was miles away, in another continent, and my face and name were projected on a large screen in front of a vast crowd, in a country where I have never been! I thought to myself: “Wow. Globalization is definitely A THING”.

My thirst for this type of challenge started a few years ago. More precisely, when Jan Tegze published the very first level of Sourcing.Games.

Some people might consider that these scenarios aren’t very relevant to our profession. Indeed, they were not created to source candidates. However, I believe that they are a fun way of learning, and they also provide the structure for some healthy competition inside our community.

On top of that, in every failure, where I have been stuck for days with a question and struggling to find the answer, I have been able to add something new to my sourcing knowledge, while also strengthening my frustration tolerance skills 🙂

More related to our day jobs, I have experienced, and internalized, three lessons after the last round of this year’s edition:

1. Overthinking will slow you down. For so long, I have been a theoretical follower of the paralysis by analysis concept and the KISS principle. This competition is the living proof that you should keep them always in mind, but also that you really need to apply fixes to them: It’s very easy to go through the rabbit-hole (scraping YouTube comments of a Dua Lipa video to be able to pass to the next level, or building a complex sourcing strategy that isn’t scalable for your company).

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2. Attention to detail is the King. Something as stupid as a letter with the caps lock on won’t let you win. Reviewing our queries, how a search is working, and reviewing (again) when we aren’t getting the right results will make the difference.

3. There is always another way. No matter how many tools or websites you already know. There might be a different place or technique that you still haven’t discovered. An open mind, having the ability to explore how to do things with another approach, is the key to success both inside and outside the competition. This is particularly complicated, also taking into consideration that you will need to balance this with 1 and 2 above.

So keep playing, keep learning, and keep the competition mode always on.  You could be inducted into the SourceCon Grandmaster Hall of Fame. By the way: In case you have seen it yet, the 1st Round of the 2020 Grandmaster is happening now.

Are you will to give it a try?


Iker has been recently awarded the SOSUEU Hackathon winner title and the AirSource Sourcing Competition. He is also one of the two European top ten finalists for the SourceCon Grandmaster Challenge.

Before that, as a young professional, he managed the internal recruitment for the first branch in France of Spanish construction and transport SME between 2012 and 2014, in addition to being in charge of HR, Operations and Account Management. During that experience, it’s when he decided to specialize in recruitment, trying as a Freelance while relocating to the United Kingdom and joining Hudson RPO in 2014. For two years, he was one of the senior members of the EMEA Center of Excellence, working for a variety of global corporate firms, leading different recruitment teams and projects in the retail, FMCG, finance, IT, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries. More recently, he moved to Solutions Driven, a recruitment agency headquartered in Glasgow, working in exclusive assignments with global outreach. As part of his role leading the sourcing function for the business, he has to stay ahead of any new tools and methods, guiding the team to be best-in-class, while polishing an already well-established sourcing culture and process.