Today we’ll get to know Shane Stanford, a Senior Engineering Manager who leads three Tech teams in Chicago and Berlin.
Name: Shane Stanford
Title: Senior Engineering Manager
Start date: 4/11/2011
What do you do? I lead an Engineering organization that consists of 3 unique teams: Finance Engineering, Voucher Inventory Engineering, and Financial Data Engineering. I spend a majority of my time coaching team managers and senior engineers and guiding those teams through strategic planning and delivery processes. Finance Engineering – When I started at Groupon, the Finance Engineering team did not exist. Across the world, Groupon paid its merchants using spreadsheets. There was no common way to do this and there were few systems to help. I was one of the founding members of the Finance Engineering team that took on the mission of automating merchant payments globally.
Today, this team ensures Groupon merchants all over the world get paid accurately and on time with a payment platform that sends hundreds of thousands of payments to our merchants every month. Voucher Inventory Engineering – This team develops the platform that keeps track of the deal options you could buy on Groupon and the vouchers that you actually purchase. So, when you pick an option under the buy button or go to look at “My Groupons,” that’s the stuff this team cares about. Our platform tracks hundreds of thousands of inventory products and millions of purchased units. Financial Data Engineering – The Financial Data Engineering team is located in Berlin. Hallo! They work on ETL processes and reporting for our international accounting team. They make sure our business has accurate and timely numbers to report and understand.
What’s challenging about the work your teams do? In a single word: scale.
- 10,000,000+ requests to our services
- 300,000 requests to inventory service a minute at peak
- 100,000+ merchant payments
- 100,000+ inventory products for consumers to purchase
- 50 services talking to our services from all kinds of different teams at Groupon
- 30+ countries relying on our reporting and accuracy
…no big deal.
What do you love about what you do?
I really enjoy working with people and helping them reach their goals, both with engineering skills and career planning and advancement. I also like simply being in front of a whiteboard with a bunch of people and solving a problem as a team.
You’re a big advocate of culture; can you describe what your team’s culture like?
One of the most important factors in developing a strong team culture is ownership. We do a lot to try to own our culture and talk about our values. For example, we hold quarterly and weekly culture retrospectives where we discuss what’s working and what isn’t. We also conduct a retrospective anytime someone joins the team, as we believe our culture evolves with every new team member. Something I’m also super passionate about is inclusion and diversity. Over time, we’ve developed some best practices that have helped us better celebrate diversity, such as:
- Individualizing and tailoring our onboarding process to reflect that every new team member is unique
- Discussing team culture with new team members so they understand its value
- Recognizing colleagues’ emotions as important signals and finding ways to address any issues that arise
- Calling out problematic words and actions and discussing appropriate team behavior and language
How much direct impact can your teammates have on the business?
All three teams have significant and broad impact on the business, from internal operations to merchants and consumers. Most consumer purchases and merchant payments are handled by our services as they pass through Groupon.
Is there a lot of ownership?
Yes, and not only with culture. I believe engineering ownership is the key to innovation.
Favorite Groupon memory?
When the Finance Engineering team rolled out our merchant payment platform internationally, we bought a giant 20’ banner that read “Mission Accomplished!” and hung it haphazardly above our work area. It was a reference to a certain presidential speech… well, you can probably figure it out. Of course there was still tons of work to do but it was great to celebrate the accomplishment. We now use the phrase, “When can we raise the banner?” when we want to talk about what success looks like at the end of a project.