Esquel Group App Inventor Journey in Empowering Employees

Founded in 1978, Esquel started as a shirt maker and has over the years developed the capacity to weave innovative technologies into its people-centric culture.

To change our employees perception of technology and develop their logical reasoning skills, programming capabilities, as well as computational thinking ability, the You Can Code! campaign was rolled out in 2015. We aimed to change our employees perception of technology and turn them into confident users of technology so that they would meet the demands of the fourth industrial revolution and we would sustain our leadership position in the apparel business. The main driver of the campaign was the App Inventor application.

To promote the notion of If I can code, you can code too, we first engaged the directors and senior managers to promote the campaign and learn the skills. Then, we recruited a group of change agents and ambassadors to do peer learning and strengthen the learning culture.

This all-in approach encouraged everyone to engage in the campaign. We engaged board members, white-collar employees, sewing workers, and children of employees in 1-hour coding workshops. We completed 28 workshops for 1,168 participants with over 2,430 training hours, including employees and their children from 10 different locations within 10 months.

To reinforce learning and motivate employees to apply their new skills, we launched a global App Challenge Contest. It stimulated new ideas and encouraged colleagues to explore new possibilities for work improvement. Over 400 creative app ideas were submitted and 11 app ideas were selected to turn into real apps. Here are some of the winning apps:

We changed attitudes, upgraded skills and built knowledge through the development of mobile app. We used fun and self-directed learning to inspire innovation, problem-solving, and collaboration. This campaign went way beyond just training, and nurtured a culture of innovation. Non-IT employees can perform IT tasks and even build prototypes by themselves. They are now able to think from system perspective with logical mindset.

Besides fostering the creation of numerous apps that improves work and live, Esquel is partnering with different institutions to promote App Inventor so that the broader community will benefit from the value created and the improved quality of living.

Recently, Esquels You Can Code! campaign was awarded the Most Innovative Award, and Silver Award, in the Development Category of Campaign Awards at the Hong Kong Management Associations (HKMA) Excellence in Training and Development 2016. With its first edition dating back 26 years ago to 1990, the Awards has offered public recognition to organizations and trainers who demonstrate excellence in human resources development and training.