JOANNE SOO

Senior Technical Product Manager, Groupon+
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 2011

At a young age, Joanne was told she wouldn’t be able to do any overly physical activities due to her disability. Fast forward to today, she’s not only climbing three-story walls but is also applying her fierce determination to a growing Product role at Groupon.

Tell us about what you do and what you love about it!

I work on the Groupon+ Product team, focusing on consumer growth. I love that I get to launch really cool features, learn what our customers love and what they don’t, and collaborate with the best and smartest people in the industry to shape the way people save money while dining out.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve worked on here?

Back in 2015, while on the Conversion team, I’ve had the opportunity to drive the North America PayPal integration, which was a feature that was very high in demand from our consumers. This effort was particularly challenging because the integration happened during a time where Groupon was rolling out a set of new technologies (new API endpoints, new backend services, and a few ongoing frontend UX A/B experiments). The challenge was to launch this initiative on top of those rollouts without compromising on performance and user experience. There was a lot of careful planning needed and strong coordination between various teams proved to be very valuable. We were able to successfully launch the payment method and it was a big win for customers and for Groupon, which was really, really awesome!

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

I love the diversity and our continuous pursuit of a diverse workplace. One of our core values (Groupon’s) is “respect, integrity, and inclusion” and while this is important at any workplace, it is even more so in engineering departments, which are usually predominantly masculine. At Groupon’s Engineering organization, our proactive fostering of a diverse workplace has created a place where people feel comfortable challenging each other’s ideas, regardless of where you come from, your gender, sexuality, identity, etc. Also, cats. What’s not to love? 🙂

And what specifically do you enjoy about Product at Groupon?

I really enjoy being able to launch really cool features. As owners of our specific areas, we have a direct influence on the outcome of the product, and through that, we get to learn about consumer behavior, our merchants, and Groupon as a business. And because we operate in a lean, agile environment, we get to launch, learn, and iterate quickly and see our product evolve over a short span of time.

So what did you do before joining Groupon?

I worked for a startup in Malaysia that focused on youth empowerment. One fine day in 2010, we decided to pivot our business model and try something new. We built GroupsMore.com, a Groupon clone offering deal of the day to Malaysians. Within four months of launching, our company was acquired by Groupon. Since then, I’ve worn many hats at Groupon (customer service, editorial, project management, and now product) and have lived in various countries for the job: Malaysia, Taiwan, and now the US.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

In Groupon Malaysia, we had set up an RM9,000,000 unicorn ride deal ready for April Fool’s Day in 2012. We decided not to launch it at that time and we killed the deal before we launched it (but the deal URL was still live, and accessible if someone had access to it). Fast forward to February 2013— something mysterious and weird happened—we saw a huge spike in traffic on groupon.my and found that the (closed) unicorn ride deal had for some reason gone viral! We were worried about bad press at first, but the virality actually was a good one…people were amused. Here’s an article about it. Needless to say, sales skyrocketed that week. 🙂

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I climb walls! I was born with a disability and was told as a child growing up that I would not be able to do any big physical activities, but with my nature of breaking molds + wanting to prove people wrong + in the spirit of “I can do it even if you say I cannot!”, I’ve developed a passion for scaling three-story walls at climbing gyms.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I have synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon where one’s senses are intertwined. Some people taste words (lexical-gustatory synesthesia) or feel sounds (auditory-tactile synesthesia). I see numbers and letters in colors (grapheme-color synesthesia), which make memorizing/remembering spelling, names, strings of numbers relatively easy for me.

What do your parents think you do?

My mom thinks “I do all the creative planning for the internet and website things” and my dad thinks “something with people management skills or something.”