Need help with appeal review

I had a applied for Exceptional Talent endorsement. Unfortunately, my application was rejected. I am considering appealing against the decision. I would highly appreciate any inputs towards the appeal idea.

I had applied with OC2 and OC3 as optional criterias. MC and OC2 were not granted.

Below, I have given details about my application (primarily related to MC and OC2), reason for rejection, and how I am thinking of appealing.

Details about my application

Letters of Recommendations

  1. From a tech partner at highly reputed VC firm and ex-CTO of my prev company
    • Goes into detail about how I was the technical leader of a significant enterprise re-architecture of a famous fintech product.
    • Explains technical challenges and financial impact of the work.
  2. From a current startup founder, ex-VP and Board member of my prev company
    • Goes into detail about I created a data lake from scratch
    • Includes product impact including concrete metrics
  3. From my skip level manager at current company (FAANG)
    • Goes into detail about my work on AR / VR and wearables
    • Mentions about a team is being formed around me over here in London to advance this field.

MC Documents

  1. Proof of high market salary in UK
    • Includes snapshots from payscale, glassdoor and reed for comparison.
  2. Proof of high market salary at other jobs in the last 5 years
    • Includes snapshots from payscale and glassdoor. Also explains how my salary back in 2019 was more than 2x the 2023 salary range.
  3. Public Speaking
    • Evidence of talk given at KubeCon Europe (international conference)
      • Screenshot of me speaking on stage + youtube video link.
      • Concrete evidence that conference was attended by 13,000 attendees from 130 countries across 6 continents.
      • Concrete evidence that only 16% of the talk proposals were selected.
    • Evidence of talk given at Kubernetes Forum (national conference)
      • Screenshot of me speaking on stage + youtube video link.
      • Photographs of 300+ attendees.

OC2 Documents

  1. Technical Blog Popularity
    • Explanation about how my blog goes into in-depth discussions of research papers in simple language, including code examples, to make it easier to understand.
    • Explanation about simplifying complex topics help advance the field.
    • Regular followers including total reads and engagements (like claps) metrics.
  2. Open Source Contributions
    • Screenshots of PRs merged with repos having 100k stars as well as another repo having 34k stars.

OC3 Documents
I won’t go into a lot of detail about OC3 evidences here since this criteria was granted.

  1. Architecture diagrams of work done in last 5 years.
  2. Feedback received
  3. Letter of reference

Panel Feedback

Appeal Idea

Emphasis must need to have been made, with clear objective and convincing evidence, of their unique contributions and direct recognition to each project. Simply being a software developer for prominent and well-regarded technology companies working on well-regarded projects does not meet the standard of evidence necessary to separate their work from that of their colleagues. This issue has therefore affected this application.

All the evidences and LoRs clearly point to the fact I was not just “any” software engineer working on the said projects. They all point to the fact that I was the main technical lead for each of the projects, how technically challenging they each were and their impact. Everything clearly points to the separation of my work from that of my colleagues. Moreover, I have also provided details about my work on AR / VR and wearable technology including evidence of how it is advancing these fields.

There are signs of significant templating with the candidate’s references. While we respect that candidates are likely to advise referees on helpful content of a reference, in this case, each reference follows a similar pattern, layout, and content giving rise to concerns that the same individual be the author in each case.

It’s unfortunate that the assessor feels this way. There were no templates used at all for any of the LoRs. All the authors stand by the contents of the letter that they have written. While I did pass on the link to the TN guidelines to them, they were the authors in all the cases. I am quite confident that they will confirm this fact should TN chooses to verify my claim. The impact of these LoRs should not be reduced simply because they followed the guidance.

The candidate’s presentation for KubeCon was on behalf of XXXXX and does not qualify as an example of the candidate themselves being recognised as a leader of one’s field.

The assessor has wrongly assumed that the presentation was on behalf of XXXXX. While I did was working at XXXXX at the time of presentation, my employer played absolutely no role whatsoever with regards to the presentation. I presented that talk in an individual capacity. I have also provided evidence about how extremely selective this conference is. I have also provided evidence about how using of cutting edge technology like service mesh in a fintech product is in itself quite transformative and how the industry want to learn from the work that I have done.

We respect they contribute to Kubernetes, the stars of Kubernetes have no relevance to the applicant. Abd while we see some of their contributions were bug fixes, there is no evidence provided that demonstrates how the candidate has advances a technology field. Similarly with Istio… With regard to their blog, 155 followers is very low. Their readership is low when compared to an ET awardee also. The subject matter is moderately advanced and while readership is low, there are a meaningful number of claps and comments.

This is in contradiction to the TN guideline. The guideline clearly states that repo stars should be mentioned for open source contributions. Moreover, significance of bug fixes should not be downplayed. There are recorded instances in the past about how simple bugs have brought down the entire internet. As I mentioned in the evidence, I had only highlighted my most significant contributions. Although a simple bug fix, it’s quite relevant and has prevented downtimes at hundreds of orgs using Kubernetes. As for the comment about readership, the assessor rightly recognises that subject matter is moderately advanced. Hence, dedicated readers will be less. But people do flock to the blog for individual topics, as is demonstrated by reads and claps. I believe the assessor has erred in downplaying the significance of this in advancing the field of tech.

I am wondering if anyone on this community has any feedback for this.

Hello @londongeek, I think assessor is too negative for your application and believe you still have a good chance if your current evidences strong enough with the appeal. I will try to comment on each of your appeal ideas:

As far as I understand from other topics in the forum, they really value external approval points such as awards, recognitions, references. So I suggest to focus on mentioning your LoR 3 from AR/VR perspective and public speaking invitation/selection process so they will get you’re exceptional than your colleagues.

Your approach is right, I used the exact same approach, there is a guide, there is certain information needed. While I was appealing, I have also mention that my references are executive levels so I cannot suggest to edit their references, “I brief them, they prepared and I shared with you” kind of feeling.

You sure mention the acceptance ratio in your appeal, this is strongest part and maybe give a little more detail about selection process so they understand this is an individual effort to be accepted. Besides, you could add some other keynote speakers to emphasize how big and recognized event it is.

I think your main problem need to solve is OC2, I believe the information above that you gather up would check the MC but for OC2, I suggest a short answer to their comment as you stated, strongly mention it’s in the guide and should be accepted. Besides, I suggest to end this section of appeal something with “I believe the evidences of public contributions via blog (evidence number x), open source platforms (ev. y), my speaker appearances at public events (ev. z & t ) are corresponding the needed criterias for OC2”

Don’t forget there will be a totally new assessor, you already checked one of optional criterias, so the only thing you need to concantrate is persuade you are an exceptional talent and advanced position than your colleagues for MC, and you out of work contribution for OC2.

I wish you the best of luck.

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Thank you @mbkuru for your valuable feedback. I will change the wordings accordingly.

Does anyone else have any other feedback?

cc @alexnk @Francisca_Chiedu @Maya @ask4jubad @alex_james @herman.komashko

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I think a lot of the assessments are quite subjective, and you have a chance to get considered as an ET on the appeal. Give it a try on the appeal since you have lots of doubts. Remember that you can only point to specific paragraphs to defend and demonstrate as per TN guidelines.

Best of luck @londongeek

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Were you able to appeal and what is your last decision ?