Desktop Support Analyst
After studying both Japanese and Information Systems at Loyola, the planets aligned perfectly for Mario when he met a Grouponer at a Chicago networking event who helped him land his current role in our Tokyo office. You can find him doling out life advice to coworkers from his helpdesk perch or slaying it in karaoke during work outings.
Spill the beans: what do you do and why do you love it?
I maintain and optimize the IT environment in order to keep things running smoothly and I also implement changes for improvement. On the local level, I maintain the Japan IT environment and assist users who are experiencing issues related to hardware, software, network, occasional life counseling, and so on. On the global level, I facilitate IT communications between Global IT and Japan, run the helpdesk, and look for ways to optimize helpdesk processes. My favorite part of my role is the satisfaction that comes from solving a complex issue and successfully assisting a colleague with any issues that they may be facing. If your monitor isn’t working, your computer burst into flames, or the network crashes, I am here to help!
What has been the most challenging thing you’ve worked on here?
The office relocation project was the most challenging and exciting thing I have had the opportunity to work on. It involved working closely with multiple global teams, strong communication between local departments and vendors, and close tracking of project constraints (i.e. deadlines, costs, and human resources). It felt great knowing that all of the planning, coordination, and work paid off as Tokyo had a successful go-live date. A bonus was that I was able to work with the Tokyo communications department in deciding the Tokyo conference rooms theme and names. After a fun brainstorming session, we decided to go with UNESCO World Heritage Sites since they are well known and serve as a daily reminder of our global impact.
What are your favorite Groupon memories?
One of my favorite Groupon memories was in the beginning of 2017 when we migrated Japan to the global network. Our incredible networking team in Chicago, a Japan-based coworker, and I spent a lot of time planning this out as to avoid any disasters and/or downtime. That meant doing the migration on Friday at midnight (JST), or Thursday morning (CST), when the office was cleared out. The thing about Japan is that the last train is usually around midnight, which meant we would be in the office until at least 5 am (if not later) depending on the migration.
In preparation for this all-nighter, I grabbed some dinner in the Shibuya area, took a quick nap at an internet café, stocked up on snacks and caffeine, and made my way to the office. The migration was a success, but we didn’t get out until around 8 am the following day; it was totally worth it though. Since it was the afternoon in Chicago, I decided to give my parents a call and felt very proud to share our accomplishment that weekend in a very slap-happy manner.
Regardless of the time of day, that was one of my favorite memories because 1) the execution was flawless; 2) my coworker and I deepened our professional and personal bonds (being the only two people in the office for ~7 hours at an irregular time of day does something to you!); and 3) it was a significant first step towards migrating our systems to Global. Overall, it was a unique experience, I learned a lot, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with our top-notch networking teams.
Another favorite memory was sometime in early 2017, local Japan IT received an alert that a chassis in our off-site server needed to be replaced. Naturally, these repairs would need to take place outside of standard working hours and preferably on the weekend in case something comes up and we need more time to repair the issue. I contacted both the vendor for repairs and vendor that housed the server to set up a maintenance and repair appointment. Due to scheduling conflicts, it ended up being on a weekday at 3 am but, that’s beside the point.
This was my first time at the data center and the security was awe-inspiring. Access lists, biometric hand-scanners, mantraps, badge readers, security cameras, and I am sure there was more in the background. After navigating through security we made it to the data rack storage area and I must say it was a very neat site. There were hundreds of rows and columns that stretched as far as the eye could see and each path was illuminated by blue LED lights and motion-sensor ceiling lights. I felt both lucky and inspired to be able to access an area like this in my first year at Groupon. Once we located the storage unit, the repair vendor got to work and my coworker and I began planning, coordinating, and scheduling the tasks that would occur over the next 6 months, which all branched from our biggest project, the Tokyo office relocation.
Who or what inspires you?
My family and best childhood friend serve as my bedrock of support and inspiration. Although we are spread out across the globe (Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Tokyo), we know that we can always count on each other to be there for one another.
Can you write a Groupon haiku?
Forever changing – Diversity is our strength — We stand as Groupon
Tell us something about you that might surprise us!
I leave it all on the floor at karaoke 😉
How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?
Technology is always changing and IT must continuously identify, integrate, and communicate these changes in order to remain competitive and relevant in today’s marketplace and provide employees and Grouponers the best possible experience.
What’s your proudest accomplishment here so far?
My favorite accomplishment was organizing and leading a street cleaning volunteer event at the previous Tokyo office. This enabled the Tokyo office to further contribute towards the local community and living out our Groupon values as well as build stronger relationships and communication between departments.
Have you won any awards in your time at Groupon?
Two Friday Awards! One for my part in migrating Japan’s IT environment to the global platform and one for my part in the office relocation project. It would not have been possible to complete these projects without the excellent teamwork, communication, and dedication from all teams across the board!
So you went to school in Chicago…how’d you get to Japan?!
I was a student at Loyola University Chicago studying Information Systems and Japanese whilst working part-time as a financial analyst at a small company. During my final semester, I spent quite a bit of time searching for jobs and attending networking events, which would eventually lead me to meet former Grouponer Trina Gizel. We immediately hit it off and Trina, knowing my IT background and keen interest in Japan, recommended me for the IT Helpdesk position in the Tokyo office. Following this, I had interviewed with the Tokyo IT manager and was brought aboard the month following graduation. It all happened really fast but I am glad to have taken the leap to work abroad in the Tokyo office.
Where can we find you outside of work?
Hiking, futsal, reading, karaoke, exercising, late-night talk shows; I am looking into testing out a new hobby each month beginning in 2018. The first on the list is ballroom dancing!
If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be and why?
I would be an English and/or IT teacher for children. Children light up my day with their energy and provide a fresh outlook on the world, boundless creativity, and a reminder to live in the present moment.
What’s your favorite local business?
King Of System