5th Annual Conference Human Capital Innovation in Technology & Analytics

Using Games to Win the War for Talent in the Workplace

From Design to AI & Big Data

Once reserved purely for entertainment, businesses are widely embracing “serious” games and “gamification”. Serious games include everything from recruitment games that allow candidates to learn about themselves to sophisticated and realistic 3D or 4D simulations used to train employees on difficult tasks. Gamification, which is the application of game principles to non-game contexts, is used by organizations to engage and motivate employees to achieve their goals. Diverse disciplines are involved in such game technologies, ranging from computer science and game design to psychology and neuroscience.

Game technologies are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace since they appeal to the millennial generation who have grown up playing video and computer games together with using mobile devices. But this is much more than fun! Serious games can generate up to millions of data points that can then be fed into machine-learning algorithms to help employers make smart HR decisions to win the war for talent.

Speakers at this conference included serious game and gamification experts who discussed how games are being used in the workplace, best practice design and what we’re learning from the data the games generate. This conference was a valuable opportunity to hear from and network with leading practitioners and game technology vendors.




Presented by

Department of Technology Management & Innovation
New York University Tandon School of Engineering
5 MetroTech Center, Pfizer Auditorium





In Cooperation with

The NYU Game Center


Media Partner




IHRIM - This program #20210 has been approved for 4.5 credit hours from IHRIM (International Association of Human Resource Information Management) for HRIP (Human Resource Information Professional) certification. Please visit www.ihrim.org for additional information.





Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 (Event Concluded)

Welcome & Introduction to the Conference

1:00 - 1:30 p.m.

Prof. Harold G. Kaufman

Department of Technology Management & Innovation, NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Dr. Harold G. Kaufman is Professor of Management and has served as Academic Director of the Organizational Behavior, Systems and Analytics graduate program in the Department of Technology Management and Innovation at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. He established this graduate program as a unique and pioneering curriculum integrating the management of people, organizations, technology and analytics. In addition, Dr. Kaufman initiated the annual conferences in Human Capital Innovation in Technology & Analytics, focusing on the cutting edges of technology in HRIS, talent management, work engagement, human capital engineering and data analytics. Most recently, he took the initiative in developing a Quantitative Human Capital Management research project with SAP, whose initial focus will be on career paths among knowledge workers.

Dr. Kaufman specializes in the study of the utilization, obsolescence and career development of technical professionals. He has reported his research in numerous publications, including three books, the first one receiving recognition as advancing the state of knowledge in the field by the Harvard Business School. Dr. Kaufman’s research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and other government agencies as well as from private foundations. He was elected Fellow of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology as well as the American Psychological Association. Dr. Kaufman earned his PhD at New York University in Industrial Psychology. He also holds a Master of Industrial Engineering from New York University and a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art.

Email: hgk224@nyu.edu

Prof. Roy E. Lowrance

Managing Director, Center For Data Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical Science, NYU

Dr. Roy Lowrance has worked at the intersection of business strategy and technology strategy for over 40 years. His career has been divided among strategy development at management consulting companies, leading information technology organizations, and academia. As a management consultant, Dr. Lowrance worked at McKinsey and Company where he focused on strategy development for technology-intensive businesses in financial services companies. He then was a partner at the Boston Consulting Group, where he was a leader in improving the effectiveness of client information technology organizations. In information technology organizations, Dr. Lowrance was CTO at Capital One and at Reuters. At Capital One, he introduced new technologies and improved the effectiveness of the technology supporting credit risk management. At Reuters he aligned network technology with the emerging future needs of customers and improved the management of the data centers.

Dr. Lowrance is a leader at New York University's Center for Data Science, which is a research and teaching center focused on creation and use of automated methods to extract insights from data. The Center for Data Science offers the first on-campus Master of Science in Data Science degree and will soon offer a PhD in Data Science. About 70 faculty are associated or affiliated with the Center. Dr. Lowrance has a B.A. in Mathematics from Vanderbilt University, an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, and a PhD in Computer Science from New York University.

Email: roy.lowrance@nyu.edu

Marcelo Modica

Chief People Officer, Mercer

Marcelo Modica is the Chief People Officer for Mercer. In this capacity, he is responsible for developing Mercer’s talent strategy that aligns with the company's mission, operating imperatives and values. Mr. Modica delivers this strategy through managing all aspects of human resources, including employee experience, professional development, talent management, compensation, staffing and employee relations. He is also a member of Mercer’s Executive Committee.

Mr. Modica joined Mercer from JP Morgan Chase, where he was General Manager for Chase Hispanic Customers and responsible for driving a culturally relevant strategy for Hispanic customers across Chase. Prior to this role, he was Managing Director & Head of Human Resources for Consumer & Business Banking. Before joining Chase, Mr. Modica was the Chief Human Resources Officer for Discover Financial Services, where he developed Discover’s talent strategy and managed the unit’s spin-off from Morgan Stanley in 2007 as head of HR for the public company. He was a member of Discover’s Management and Operational Risk Committees. Mr. Modica joined Morgan Stanley in 1994 and held a number of positions in human resources before his move to Discover in 2006. He also worked for Prudential Securities and Lehman Brothers. Mr. Modica earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Siena College and a Master of Arts in organizational psychology from Columbia University.

Email: Marcelo.Modica@mercer.com

Games: What, Why, and How?

1:30 - 2:00 p.m.


Play and games are fundamental to human experience and culture. Aspects of play and games as structured activities are entering the workplace under names such as serious games and gamification. If you do not play regularly, it may be hard to spot trends in games and discern between offerings of games for people at work.

What characterizes play and games? What can games offer us? Why do people play, alone or together? How can play and games be brought into the workplace in a way that is empowering to both organizations and employees?

In three micro-talks, Frank Lantz, Andy Nealen, and Christoffer Holmgård take on these questions to provide a primer on play and games for life and work.

Prof. Frank Lantz

Director of the NYU Game Center, Department of Game Design, NYU Tisch School of the Arts

Frank Lantz is the Director of the NYU Game Center, he has taught game design for over 12 years at NYU, SVA, and Parsons and his writings on games, technology and culture have appeared in a variety of publications.

Frank is a game designer who has worked in the field of game development for the past 20 years. In 2005 he co-founded Area/Code, which created cross-media, location-based, and social network games as well as the popular abstract puzzle game Drop7. Before starting Area/Code, Frank worked on a wide variety of games as the Director of Game Design at Gamelab, Lead Game Designer at Pop & Co, and Creative Director at R/GA Interactive.

Over the past 10 years, Frank helped pioneer the genre of large-scale realworld games, working on projects such as the Big Urban Game, which turned the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul into the world’s largest boardgame; Sharkrunners, which allowed players to interact with living sharks in a persistent virtual world, PacManhattan, a life-size version of the arcade classic created by the students in his Big Games class at NYU, and many other experiments in pervasive and urban gaming.

Email: frank.lantz@nyu.edu

Prof. Andy Nealan

Director of the Game Innovation Lab, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Andy Nealen is a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, where he co-directs the Game Innovation Lab, and teaches and researches in Game Design, Computer Graphics, and Game Engineering. Some time ago he studied Architecture and Structural Engineering, and worked in those fields before turning his attention to the study and design of games and computer graphics.

He obtained his PhD in computer science at TU Berlin, helped out with the Apple-Design-Award-winning game Osmos, published work at SIGGRAPH, and has spoken at international game and computer graphics conferences.

Some of his current obsessions include computational modeling in games, minimalist game design, tabletop game design, interactive shape modeling and animation, the semiology of graphics, perceptual science, behavioral game theory, and minimal graphical user interfaces. When not thinking about design, research, and/or traveling, he indulges in sessions of Magic: The Gathering, Netrunner, Hearthstone, StarCraft, Street Fighter, Chess, Go, and too many other video and tabletop games.

Email: andy@nealen.net

Christoffer Holmgard, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate at the Game Innovation Lab, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Christoffer Holmgård is a postdoctoral associate at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering Game Innovation Lab. Christoffer does research at the crossroads of cognitive psychology, game theory and design, and artificial intelligence. Within these fields, he pursues methods and applications of user experience modeling, artificial agent construction, and procedural content generation. Currently, his work is focused on decision making in games and the use of games as profiling and assessment tools. He is developing methods for capturing, characterizing, modeling and reproducing human decision making styles in games and simulations and researching ways of using game technology and artificial intelligence for psychometric testing.

Prior to joining NYU, Christoffer studied at the IT University of Copenhagen and University of Copenhagen and worked as a researcher at the Institute of Military Psychology of the Royal Danish Defence College, focused on assessment and selection.

He is active in game development as a member of the game curatorial group Copenhagen Game Collective, a partner in the critically acclaimed game studio Die Gute Fabrik, and a co-founder and -owner of applied game design and development group, Duck and Cover Games.

Email: holmgard@gmail.com

Serious Games & Gamification in the Workplace: What’s out there?

2:00 - 2:45 p.m.


Games are no longer just for fun! Human Resource departments are now using “serious” games and gamification (game principles) to help accomplish business objectives and motivate employees. HR uses of games ranges from business simulations for training to recruitment branding to using badges and peer-to-peer competition to promote wellness and employee engagement. Employees now want to engage with work the same way they do in their personal lives. Glued to mobile devices, employee attention spans are shrinking and they are “tuning out” to more traditional approaches. In this session Mercer, a global human resource consulting firm will share what types of games and gamifications they are seeing in the market and how HR departments are using games to achieve desired outcomes.

Barbara Marder

Talent Business Global Innovation Leader, Senior Partner, Mercer

Barbara Marder is a Senior Partner of Mercer and is the Global Innovation Leader for Mercer’s Talent business. Barb’s responsibility is to oversee an innovation team and create a new offering for Mercer in the talent acquisition space. Barb has led the innovation team from idea generation to product development to commercialization of Mercer’s new offering. As a result of her innovation work, Barb has been recognized as a thought leader on talent acquisition innovation with a specific focus on new, data-driven Predictive Hiring technologies and gamification.

Before this role, Barb led Mercer’s Global Mobility practice and before that she led two global businesses for Mercer’s Retirement segment – Global Defined Contribution Consulting and International Benefits Consulting. Barb has more than 30 years of experience in all aspects of Talent and Retirement programs.

Email: barbara.marder@mercer.com

Antonio Poglianich

HR Communication Practice Leader, Partner, Mercer

Antonio Poglianich is a partner in Mercer's New York office and is currently the Communication practice leader for North America. Antonio develops and implements award-winning large scale change communication projects for all facets of human resources. He has particular expertise in creating digital and multimedia solutions, which recognize the role social media plays in shaping the employment value proposition.

While Antonio has extensive experience in partnering with large U.S. based multi-national clients in the financial services, pharmaceutical, media and technology industries, his client list includes multi-national organizations based in Asia and the Middle East.

Antonio's client work includes:

  • defining, launching and embedding a new employee value proposition consistent with companies' mission and vision statements
  • re-imagining and re launching clients' human resources portals to create delightful employee experiences
  • introducing senior executive compensation equity program reductions during a client crisis
  • supporting complex organizational change through thoughtful and pragmatic change management execution strategies

Antonio has over twenty years of experience in human resources. In addition, Antonio was a practicing Certified Financial Planner with his own business and a financial education adjunct instructor at New York University's School of Continuing Education.

Email: antonio.poglianich@mercer.com

Serious Games for Engaging employees: Case studies in Assessment & Training

3:15 - 3:45 p.m.

For over a decade, organizations have been excited about the innovative potential of game-inspired ideas and technologies―including virtual worlds, simulations, and games for training, testing, and assessment. Many government and commercial organizations are actively using games for training. Academics are beginning to explore game-inspired strategies for assessment, while early adopters have already begun leveraging game-inspired approaches in a novel professional certification platform and for assessing medical professionals’ skills. Their experiences provide a rich set of lessons learned for the community at large. Case studies will be shared to provide anyone considering game-based training and/or assessment experiences a look into what works in the employment of these innovative approaches.

Jennifer McNamara

Vice President, Serious Games and Strategic Partnerships, BreakAway Games

Jenn leads the BreakAway Games team using advanced design approaches and technologies from the video game industry in the development of serious games and simulations to enhance training, practice, and assessment. She is frequently sought as a partner/advisor when organizations turn to explore the serious application of game technologies and has been involved in creation of dozens of serious games, including several award winning products. Through working closely with customers, Jenn understands the strengths and limitations of serious games as applied in a multitude of organizational and end-user settings.

Jenn holds a M.Ed. from the Pennsylvania State University and B.S. from Drexel University. She is a self-described human performance enthusiast drawing upon her background in cognitive and human factors psychology, education and training, and AI/agent-based system development to provide advanced technologies that expand human potential. For the past 12 years, Jenn has been extremely active in shaping the serious games industry through researching and advocating the use of serious games and speaking at industry conferences. In addition, Jenn serves as the Director of the non-profit Serious Games Showcase and Challenge, an annual international competition and exhibition for serious games.

Email: JMcNamara@breakawayltd.com

Predictive Hiring using big data, machine learning algorithms & gamification

3:45 - 4:15 p.m.


Numerous industries have recently undergone radical transformations due to the ability to collect and analyze more data than ever before, utilizing it to predict future behavior. Amazon has led the way in using machine learning to predict future purchasing behavior, with Netflix following suit in the entertainment industry, and OkCupid in the realm of online dating. In sports, all teams currently employ analytics to predict future performance of athletes before they have ever stepped foot on the professional scene. The field of human capital management should adopt these practices to more efficiently hire and deploy capital. pymetrics is currently employing methods borrowed from industry and the sports world to support its new marketplace that more efficiently matches candidates with jobs.

Frida Polli, PhD

CEO and co-founder, Pymetrics, Inc.

Dr. Frida Polli is an award-winning neuroscientist trained at Harvard and MIT. She completed her predoctoral training in neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, and her postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience at MIT. Frida holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a PhD from Suffolk University, and a BA from Dartmouth College. She was named a Robert Kaplan Life Science Fellow by Harvard Business School in 2012. Frida has been an invited speaker at MIT and Harvard, has appeared on CNN and CNBC, and is a regular contributor for Forbes. She speaks on topics of entrepreneurship, diversity, data-driven applications for HR and neuroscience in the business world.

Frida is the founder and CEO of pymetrics. pymetrics uses neuroscience behavioral data and data science to optimize hiring and internal placement for companies in a wide range of industries. The technology assesses key cognitive and emotional traits that are essential for given job functions / roles, and uses that information to help people and companies make smarter workforce decisions.

Email: frida.polli@pymetrics.com

The Dynamic Duo of Employee Engagement: Gamification and Analytics

4:15 - 5:45 p.m.


Over the past few years, more and more managers have turned to gamification to solve problems associated with low levels of employee engagement. However, in their attempts to improve business performance, many of these managers have somehow become convinced that increasing engagement is the end game. Granted, when it comes to business systems, boosting adoption and participation is important - essential, even – but you can’t stop there. You need to remember why you wanted your employees engaged in the tool in the first place and tie increased engagement to specific business outcomes. Then, to maintain momentum, you need to analyze the activity data and optimize the engagement programs that run within your systems of record. That means gamification alone isn’t enough. In this session you will learn about the importance of gamification and analytics, and hear real life examples about the importance of combining the two.

Keith Conley

Director Analytics and Insights, Bunchball

Since joining Bunchball in 2011, Keith Conley has been instrumental in defining the value proposition and proving the business impact of gamification. As a critical member of Bunchball’s client services team, he aligns digital strategy with technical implementation and provides pathways to optimization to ensure clients fully realize the benefits of their gamification initiatives. Previously, Keith served as a communications strategist for Young & Rubicam and an analytics manager for Universal McCann. In these roles, he generated attitudinal and behavioral measurement plans and guided global and/or national branding and direct advertising initiatives for a variety of firms, including Microsoft, HP, Wells Fargo, the NCAA and Palm, Inc.

Email: Keith.Conley@bunchball.com

Game of Threats: A Cyber Threat Simulation

4:45 - 5:15 p.m.


Game of Threats is a digital game that is designed to simulate the speed and complexity of an actual cyber breach. The solution integrates elements of gamification and game theory to provide an interactive client experience where a client team playing itself tries to defend itself from a threat actor team (also played by company personnel). The game environment creates a realistic experience where both sides are required to make quick, high impact decisions with minimal information. At its core, Game of Threats™ is a critical decision making game that has been designed to reward good decisions by the players, and to penalize teams for making poor decisions. Players walk away with a better understanding of the steps they need to take to better secure their companies.

Doug Bloom

Director, Cybercrime and Privacy, PwC

Doug is a Director in the Financial Crimes Unit within PwC’s Cybercrime and Privacy services practice. He has over sixteen years’ experience serving as a federal prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer and software developer. Doug assists clients with conducting cybercrime, fraud and economic espionage investigations and responding to and containing breaches of PwC’s clients’ computer networks. In addition, he helps clients assess their cybersecurity readiness and fraud controls, identifying the organizational changes necessary to protect clients against and respond to internal and external threats. Previously, Doug was a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he investigated and prosecuted national security cyber offenses, including economic espionage, hacking of national defense and government systems, and the theft of trade secrets.

Doug is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham University, where he teaches a course on computer crimes. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Symbolic Systems and a Master’s degree in Linguistics from Stanford University. He received a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Harvard Law School. He is admitted to the New York bar, and an active member of the Federal Bar Council.

Email: douglas.b.bloom@pwc.com

Measuring the Benefits of Gamification and Serious Games in the Corporate Learning Space

5:15 - 5:45 p.m.


Generations entering the workforce now deem their primary and core form of entertainment to be playing video games. This mentality leads the corporate culture to use games for learning. Andrew will be discussing the benefits and how to analytically measure the benefits of using Serious Games in the workplace. This session will discuss the experience Designing Digitally, Inc. had with partnering with Mercer to create an interactive learning game for consultative sales training.

Andrew Hughes

President and CEO, Designing Digitally, Inc.

For nearly a decade, Andrew Hughes has made it his personal mission to ensure that commonly-used ineffective and lackluster training techniques are a thing of the past. Realizing his passion for changing the way we learn and evolve, in 2006 Andrew founded and became President of Designing Digitally, Inc., an E-Learning and Serious Game Development firm that creates fully customized learner retention solutions for various types of industries. Starting with a solo team, Designing Digitally has grown its staff to 1520 cutting edge employees consisting of Directors, Project Managers, Interactive Web Developers, Interactive Media Developers, Instructional Designers, Interactive Graphic Designers, and Learning Solutions Specialists. Andrew has been responsible for managing the sales and solutions team while providing guidance and knowledge to the production teams. Throughout the years, Designing Digitally, Inc. has had the pleasure of working with courteous and prestigious clients to include: NASA, Comcast, Hewlett Packard, Wyndham Hotels, Procter and Gamble, General Electric, the United States Air Force, Samsung, and Williams-Sonoma to name a few.

In addition to being President of Designing Digitally, Inc., Andrew is also strongly devoted to the prosperity of the community. He is currently a Professor at the University of Cincinnati Clermont in the Business, Law, and Technology Department, an Accredited Curriculum Consultant for the Accreditation of Independent Colleges and Schools, the Coordinator for the Business Development Plan contest hosted by the Clermont Chamber of Commerce, is an avid guest speaker at over a dozen E-Learning and industry specific conferences annually, and is a Technology Camp Instructor for middle schoolers for Warren and Putnam Counties in Ohio.

Email: andrew.hughes@ddincmail.com


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