AI, insights and dad jokes: Yahoo Academy Class of 2023 inspire in pitch off


The day-long program held at Luna Park in Sydney

An idea to use dad jokes to galvanise industry support for MOOD Tea won the much-anticipated pitch-off, to bring the record-breaking 2023 instalment of industry talent-building program Yahoo Academy to a close.

The day-long program held at Luna Park in Sydney saw 40 of the top emerging industry talent from Australia and Singapore treated to workshops on taming AI, collaboration, creating compelling insights and creativity from the visionary minds behind Genius Steals, Rosie and Faris Yakob.

John McNerney, managing director of AUSEA, Yahoo, highlighted the program’s emphasis on future-proofing participants’ careers through cutting-edge tools such as generative AI and focusing on the more human skills leaders will need in the future.

He comments: “The last year has seen a lot of hype around AI and emerging technologies supporting the future of work, so we wanted this year’s Yahoo Academy to dig into what that really means. Rosie and Faris have done an outstanding job of practically showcasing to this group of young leaders the skills they need to thrive in their careers.”

Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, chief revenue officer at Yahoo, adds: “Yahoo takes immense pride in having contributed even a small part to the remarkable career journeys of these exceptional young superstars.”

The day culminated with a pitch-off, where participants were split into 10 teams of four and given 60 minutes to respond to a brief of generating more industry pride and support for UnLtd’s social enterprise product MOOD Tea.

Rosie and Faris Yakob, who led the day’s workshops, explained: “We were thrilled to see teams putting the lessons we had taught them into practice, using AI tools to help generate insights and bust category norms and using those craft brilliant, and executable, creative ideas. We were really impressed with the level of thinking and how quickly the group grasped difficult concepts – it really is an exciting future.”

The winning team – Tom Hamilton from, Simon Molloy from OMD, Mary Pantahos from Matterkind and Bonita Wong from WooliesX – pitched the idea of a peer-voted industry competition to find the best dad jokes to print on the tea bag labels, which sat well with the judges.

Winning team member Mary Pantahos from Matterkind says: “This program has been an incredible experience. The training was so informative, inspiring, and applicable to what we do in this industry. I can’t wait to take this thinking back to work and share it with my colleagues. A huge thanks to Yahoo, Rosie and Faris for this amazing opportunity.”

The winning team was awarded a trip to a major international conference taking place in Sydney later this year.

Top image: Yahoo Academy Pitch-Off Winners

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