KARISHMA PATEL BUFORD

VP of Global Talent Management
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2016

As a global leader, I have found Karishma to proactively get to know each teammate both personally and professionally; she adapts her leadership style to meet individual needs. She also goes “hard” for her team and goes above and beyond to ensure that any obstacles in the way are broken down for their success (and the success of the initiative). She has been a tremendous add to Groupon and a great representation of someone who lives/models our Values every day. – Cassandra Black: Senior Lead, Talent and Inclusion & Diversity

Tell us about your leadership style. 

If you asked my team, I’m sure they would start and end with “driver,” which is always something to watch out for to avoid micromanaging or burning out my team in the process! I’m sure they would also say that I focus on the big picture and making an impact and that I am fearless in fighting the good fight.  

And what’s the most important quality in a teammate for your organization?

Focus on the solution, instead of just the problem. And follow through!

Talk about the time you realized your work was making a big impact. 

Since the question is the first time, I have to go back…way back to a very personal experience that changed my life and trajectory. I was in my 4th year of college and had just decided I was going to transfer out of my Biomedical Engineering major into Psychology. I was testing the waters by engaging in some extracurricular programs like volunteering at a crisis hotline and interning at the psych unit at UVa. It was a Sunday night when I had received a call at the crisis center from a father who had just taken his wife to the ER for a nervous breakdown and had come home to put his kids to bed. With a gun in his hand, he was ready to take his own life. The fact that he called first let me know there was a chance to save him. We spent two hours talking on the phone and at one point, I pointed out some conflicts in his thinking: that he believed his wife when she blamed him for their troubles but never when she told him she loved him. Somehow, simply helping him see the disconnect in his thinking was a breakthrough.

When the calls end in these situations, you never really know what happens next. But, the next day, I went on to my internship to interview a patient who had just been admitted the night before. After a few questions, it was clear that this was the wife of the man I had spoken to only 12 hours before. Two days later, he visited and I watched all four of them playing together with even a sense of calm. I knew then that I was meant to influence others, to change minds, and maybe even change hearts to make a difference in the world.  

How has working at Groupon impacted you?

Groupon has been an amazing ride in two short years. I’ve grown more as a leader and professional in these two years than ever before thanks to new experiences that have stretched me, lots of feedback from my customers and team, and most importantly, an incredible sense of pride for what my teams have accomplished through their unwavering focus and commitment.

Who are your biggest influences?

My family. My father who has taught me about excellence and striving for more; my mother who taught me compassion; my husband who has taught me about forgiveness and resilience; and my kids who have taught me about patience and true love.

Speaking of your family…what do your kids think you do?

Probably summarized as building great leaders. And now, as my role has expanded…hiring them!

What’s the last book you read?  

I just finished Ray Dalio’s Principles. It is spot on in terms of building a culture from the ground up and what really matters in building a high-performance organization.

Describe a unique breakthrough moment in your time at Groupon.

I think my team will be OK with me saying this because it was a great aha! moment for all of us. At our recent Talent Development & Diversity offsite, the entire global team got together. One of our lightbulbs was that in our super fast-paced environment—and though we talk all the time virtually—we really did not have a clear sense of each other’s challenges in different regions of the world. Because Groupon is headquartered in the US, the perception is that things run more smoothly with fewer challenges on this side of the pond. The reality is that we all have our challenges no matter where we sit, they are just different. So it’s important to always ask about what those are, have empathy, and collaborate together to figure out how to support each other as a team.

Describe your job in 10 words or less.

Support the business in attracting, selecting, developing, and retaining great talent. (11!)

Inspired by Karishma's story?

 

Work with her!

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

This is really tough to nail down to just one piece of advice. I have been fortunate to have found many amazing mentors in my career who have given me a great deal of wisdom and coaching along the way. The best advice is played out in the Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man. Say “yes” – even if it’s scary or if it means some short-term pain. Say “yes” to the experience if you want to have a life and career of endless possibilities. In short, own the experience! That was SO not on purpose. ; )

What have you done when you’ve encountered setbacks in your career?

Dust yourself off and try again. (Aaliyah, RIP.)

What’s your favorite local business?

Toss up between Big & Little’s—which is two blocks from my house and a Friday night go-to—and River North Car Detailing that does magic when faced with the aftermath of a three-year-old and a ten-month-old.   

What’s the last Groupon you used?

Team dinner at Sapori Trattoria in Chicago.

We know you love what you do at Groupon…but if you could try any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

Oprah. Meeting and talking with people about their journeys, what they’ve learned, and how they have and will change the world…there’s really nothing more inspiring.