Roman Elizarov, Devexperts board member and Projects Coordinator, Director of ACM ICPC contest finals 2013 shares his experiences of the ACM ICPC contest finals organization.

– ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC) is an annual multi-tiered competitive programming competition among the universities of the world.  The contest fosters creativity, teamwork, and innovation in building new software programs, and enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure. Quite simply, it is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest in the world. Roman is not the only person in Devexperts, who is concerned with ACM ICPC, but the most known one.

ICPC Finals 2013

I would like to start this interview with congratulations. Participants and guests appreciation of ICPC finals contest organisation is very high. Do you feel that your efforts have been rewarded by everybody’s recognition?

– Yes, it was an extremely rewarding experience. It turned out much more rewarding than I had anticipated. The whole contest organization was an effort of a dozens of volunteers and staff from ACM ICPC, IBM, our host university ITMO, and our partner Yandex. Everybody did a tremendous work and all those people performed as a great team.

360 students arrived to ICPC final contest in St. Petersburg, and it is was only a small part of all attendees. How much time did it take you to organise ICPC finals contest? How many people were in your team?

– The initial scouting for contest venues had been performed many years ago, while the operational work to organize this contest started full speed slightly over a year ago. ITMO host team consisted of several dozen key staff members and more than a hundred volunteers. We’ve tried to credit everybody who we could identify in our brochure here.

ICPC twitter account shows us some figures, which up to the a point reflect the amount of work done during the process of event organization. What caused the main difficulties? What are you mainly proud of?

– There were a lot of difficulties and most of them came from unexpected directions. We welcomed into St. Petersburg and hosted more than a thousand contestants, coaches, regional contest directors, staff members, volunteers and their guests. They came from all over the world and we took care of every aspect of their stay from visas and hotels to transportation and excursions. We held a great opening ceremony at the Alexandrinsky theater, you can watch key elements of the ceremony here. We’ve turned Jubilee Sports Palace into a Palace of Sports Programming and you can see how it all beautifully worked here. It was all difficult and I am proud of all of that. None of the members of our team had had prior experience in organizing events on such a scale, but they all learned and performed. It was a great pleasure working with them.

How did you get to become an ACM ICPC 2013 World Finals Director director of ICPC finals contest 2013?

– It was all quite natural for me. I started as a participant in ACM ICPC in 1994, my team became the first Champion of Russia in 1996, and I’ve been working as a principal organizer and a Chief Judge of ACM ICPC Northeastern European Regional Contest (NEERC) since 1997. It was largely the same group that was forming for 16 years and organized NEERC that hosted ACM ICPC World Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2013.

We know, that it has been the first time, when ICPC finals contest was held in Russia since it was established in 1977. Did you feel any additional responsibility, connected with it?

– Indeed, the responsibility was high and real. The 2013 ACM ICPC World Finals were held under a honorary patronage of Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev. The Governor of St. Petersburg, Georgy Poltavchenko, personally gave a speech during the opening ceremony. This event attracted a lot attention from Federal and Local governments. To host this prestigious programming competition in our city is an important achievement for St. Petersburg and for Russia. It is an academic event and it does recognize the work that is being performed in ITMO and in the city of St. Petersburg in general to educate the next generation of problem solvers that our country and the world need.

ICPC Finals 2013

As far as I know, you were working on ICPC finals contest organization along with your main responsibilities at Devexperts. How did you manage to combine two highly responsible positions?

– Both for ACM ICPC World Finals and at Devexperts I have great teams that I work with. All team members feel their responsibility and their contribution to the overall success. I can prioritize the aspects that need my personal attention and be sure that the rest will be handled by the team. Think of it as managing the overall super effort that is the sum of two.

You have acquired a lot experience and ideas while in charge of such a big event. Could you share some of those with us? Which of them are you going to use in your everyday business life?

– Most of my newly acquired experience relates to the fact of dealing with huge number of people at the same time. For example, it turns out that when there is crowd of a thousand standing and chatting among themselves, you cannot simply wave your hands and ask them to move in the direction you want them to go. You really have to use public announcement equipment to relay your message to them. Also, before the event we had to deal with a stream of emails on a scale that I had not encountered before in my business practice. This is actually going to be a valuable lesson as we diversify our product offerings into various niches of financial products and start to acquire larger number of smaller-sized customers in some of those niches.

What are your plans regarding ICPC events in the future?

– I will continue to serve as a Chief Judge for ACM ICPC NEERC and will continue to be a part of ICPC Executive Committee in my role as ICPC Secretary. ACM ICPC had become an integral and inseparable part of my life.

Thank you, Roman!