Mario Peterson – Desktop Support Analyst

Mario Peterson – Desktop Support Analyst

MARIO PETERSON

Desktop Support Analyst
Tokyo, Japan
Joined: 2016

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

 

Groupon World Headquarters

Ricardo Rehkopf – Director of Global Payroll & Shared Services

Ricardo Rehkopf – Director of Global Payroll & Shared Services

RICARDO REHKOPF

Director of Global Payroll & Shared Services
London, UK
Joined: 2013

We had no idea Ricardo was such a big deal in the payroll world. He has been featured in Payroll World Magazine where he talked about how Groupon manages global payroll and compliance. Today, he’s on the blog talking about his global team and his love for travel and cooking.

How does your role impact Groupon’s mission of building the local habit in local commerce?

The work that my team and I do globally—essentially making sure that all employees and vendors get paid accurately and on time—contributes substantially to satisfaction, motivates productivity levels across the entire business, and thus helps Groupon better achieve its overarching business objectives.

What’s your biggest Groupon accomplishment?

I’m very proud that my team and I were able to standardise and centralise all of Groupon’s payroll processes, covering all countries in all their legal, financial, procedural, and organisational complexities paving the way to effectively utilise one single system. I am also very proud to have done the same for our AP Shared services in India. They’re a fabulous team to have and are now processing all international AP and employee expenses for EMEA & APAC.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

This past summer, we went on a treasure hunt to discover London around our office. Looking for clues, finding the treasure, and having a few drinks along the way was a lot of fun!

Who or what inspires you?

My friends and family inspire me, as well as some famous entrepreneurs and writers, like Richard Branson and Paulo Coelho.

So what’s your job like? What do you love about it?

I work in the Payroll department and International Trade AP Shared Services, managing all of our countries around the world. I make sure all payroll processes are in place and that we all get paid accurately and on time. I have a team helping me with the payroll operations based in Bangalore, Milan, London, Paris, and Dublin, and my team in the International Trade AP Shared Services sits in Bangalore.

I’m based in London and I travel to all the different locations where my teams are, I also travel to Chicago where my manager is: Jenni Weinacht. I love my job because it is fun, every day is different, I like the different cultures and diversity I work with, and my team is so great to work with.

Working at Groupon has provided me with exposure to a great deal of network outside and inside Groupon and learning experience in the e-commerce industry. I’ve been a panelist to a few payroll events and seminars in the payroll world and I’ve also featured in the Payroll World Magazine in May last year.

What do your parents think you do?

They think I’m a lawyer…

So what’d you do before Groupon and what brought you here?

I am a true payroll veteran with more than 20 years under my belt having worked for different organisations in North America and Europe. I focus on strategic payroll issues and efficiency gains in global payroll and payroll/HR software systems. Prior to Groupon, I worked for Thomson Reuters, Avid Technology, Celergo in the UK, and CPEhr out of California.

As a payroll veteran, what makes Groupon a unique place to work?

Groupon is simply a cool and flexible place to work. The people make all the difference and that is where Groupon differentiates itself as an organisation. There are so many great people working here who are intrinsically motivated and dedicated to being successful. Personally, I truly enjoy the freedom of applying my skills in creative ways.

If you could have any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

I’d love to be a restaurant chef at a Michelin star restaurant. I have a great passion for cooking and experiencing beautiful food in a social setting.

What’s your favorite local business?

NOPI, an Ottolenghi restaurant in Central London.

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

The most challenging part of my work since being at Groupon was transitioning all countries to a single payroll provider as well as supporting the HR team in implementing a new HR system. Nevertheless, it was great fun doing so.

Where can we find you outside of work?

I love spending time with my partner traveling different countries and places. My favourite pastime is cooking and dining out, and spending time with friends. I also like playing paddle tennis and doing yoga, and during the winter season, I enjoy skiing.

What’s your favorite office view?

London Office

Ratheesh Rajan – Training Team Lead

Ratheesh Rajan – Training Team Lead

RATHEESH RAJAN

Training Team Lead
Chennai, India
Joined: 2012

Ratheesh helped to launch our Chennai site in 2012. Nowadays, he’s on the Global Learning & Development team where he has trained new hires and trainers in both India and the U.S.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

When Groupon Chennai started, there was only one shift: the day shift. Eventually, the requirement for a night shift at the Chennai office arose, which was initially met with some opposition. My then manager, Prabhakar, rose to the occasion and took charge, bringing in staff who wanted to work the night shift without having to move anybody against their wishes. His strategy was mindblowing and unforgettable!

Tell us about your job – what does a typical day look like?

I am from Global Learning and Development. My team and I do new hire training, facilitate “train-the-trainer” sessions with the vendor team, work with the service delivery team to improve their metrics, and partner with the project management team to implement their projects. My job is to allocate trainers to conduct training. I also will pitch in for facilitating training often. This year, I trained 9 groups of new hires continuously from July to October at our Bangalore site.

Who or what inspires you?

My job and the challenges that come with it. Not a week goes by without someone asking me how I stay motivated. My response is always the same. I do not believe in finding motivation from the outside. Passion is more powerful than any extrinsic motivational factors. If one is passionate about something, it is all the impetus one needs. Therefore, I always look within for inspiration.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?

In January 2013, I got a Gchat from one of the Chicago Area Managers saying that I was selected to attend a Team Lead interview. I was so excited because that was my third month of joining Groupon. I was able to clear all the rounds and got my offer letter as Team lead. Along with that, I was given a brand new, shiny laptop. That was the first time I was ever using a laptop for my self. I will never ever forget that moment which I am so proud of.

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

I was doing a new hire training in Chicago a year ago and despite the fact that my entire day was spent in the office conducting training, I was also given a big project to work on at the same time. I literally had to stay back at the office to download/attend project calls, then go back to the apartment and work on the project. For a week, it is was almost 14 to 15 hours with my laptop doing this project. Luckily, I was able to complete my tasks and the project launched right on time.

What’d you do before joining Groupon?

I was working with Sutherland Global Services when Amazon.com was their client. When I heard Groupon was opening its start-up office in Chennai, I was so excited and applied for it believing opportunities are very high in the startups.

What was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?

My first day at Groupon showed me that there was freedom in empowerment. Allowing employees to dress to express themselves was refreshing to me as someone from an organization with a strict dress code.

So comparing your role at Groupon to similar roles at other companies, what’s the difference? Why Groupon?

I have done training roles in my previous organization, but those were product- or region-specific; I never got a chance to work in the global environment.  A couple of years back, the Global Learning and Development team was formed at Groupon. From then on it was learning every day, challenges every day, projects every week.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

Being a trainer, I am the bridge between all new updates and agents who interact with customers to provide them with exceptional service. Unless I do my best to equip and inspire agents they will not be able to do their best for Groupon’s customers. As a proud Grouponer, I try and live by the mission and values in everything that I do.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I take good care of my things (my bike, my shoes, etc.,) and talk to inanimate objects (when nobody is watching of course!)

If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be?

I would like to run a Health and Fitness Club.

 

Groupon Chennai

Julie Johnston – Office Services Manager

Julie Johnston – Office Services Manager

JULIE JOHNSTON

Office Services Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2013

A Chicago office favorite, Julie can be found seemingly everywhere in the office at any given time. If you can’t find her, she’s probably busy being photographed for Groupon deals by our in-house photography studio. (She’s pretty famous.)

Who or what inspires you?

I think there is probably a little bit of everyone that inspires me. I am so in awe of the talent that makes up this crazy world at Groupon.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. I came out of a very corporate environment and when I came here I felt like I was dressed like I was going to prom and everyone else was in jeans. Once I settled in, I realized what delightful people I was getting to work with.

Your role probably exists at other companies, so why Groupon? What keeps you here?

The people here. As they say “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” I’m happy here so if it ain’t broke I won’t fix it.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I want to be a backup singer for a solo artist. I love to harmonize and have been told that I could harmonize with a fart. You asked.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

It would probably be the meeting where I found out for the first time that Groupon dealt in “sexual wellness.” It was pretty funny.

Tell us about your job!

We do whatever it takes to keep our employees safe, clean, and well maintained. What I love most about this job are my 2200+ little darlings.

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

When we reorganized the floors after subletting a sizable chunk of space. There wasn’t one business unit that wasn’t affected by the move.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

We support those who support the building of the daily habit in local commerce.

What are you most proud of in your time here?

I think that I am most proud of the relationships that I have developed with kids half my age. They treat me like I am one of them and it really means a lot. I truly love the people here and I get along with them all.

What do your parents think you do?

They would be very proud of my accomplishments. My mom would have been our best customer.

Where were you before Groupon?

I worked for a firm that helped CEOs identify their next career move.

Where can we find you outside of work? What are your hobbies?

I have a handsome Brittany Spaniel that keeps me busy. I love to cook and entertain friends. That’s the southern mom in me.

If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

Recruiting. I love people and I love talking to people. I’ve always had a good eye for good people.

What’s your favorite local business?

It would have to be any of the spas. I love to pamper myself.

Groupon World Headquarters

Cole Eggenberger – Merchant Development Manager

Cole Eggenberger – Merchant Development Manager

COLE EGGENBERGER

Merchant Development Manager – Health, Beauty, & Wellness
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2015

Cole is your go-to for all things beauty & wellness: botox, vampire facials, float therapy, and even “Kim K facials.” She’s also the 2nd Groupon hand model we’ve featured and is not afraid to drop a hand pun in her story, which we appreciate.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favorite Groupon memory is my team winning the department sales competition back to back the past two summers. We got to take a half day and go to the Cubs game for the afternoon! (Fingers crossed for round 3 this upcoming summer.)

Tell us about your job! What do you do and what do you love about it?

I am in Groupon’s Health & Beauty category as a Merchant Development Manager. I work with about 300 local health and beauty businesses to help grow their sales, including adding additional deals to the site, getting old businesses back on the site, and making sure current promotions are running as successfully as possible. There are many, many things I love about my job, including the product I sell, the people I work with (both my merchants as well as co-workers), and how I am able to connect local businesses to their communities across the country.

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

Learning the ins and outs of health and beauty services is something I never thought I’d be doing. For example, Botox, PRP vampire facials, salt caves, body contouring, float therapy, and cryotherapy are just a few of the unique services we offer on the site that I work on every day. I had no idea about any of these prior to working here at Groupon. Now, I know way too much about each of them! If you want to know about the “Kim K facial,” I’m your girl.

Who inspires you?

My mom and dad inspire me every day. They are the most supportive parents, and I love getting to make them proud.

Have you won any awards since you’ve been here?

Hand Model of the Year, 2017. Groupon’s Product Photography team gave employees the opportunity to participate in modeling for stock images to be used on the site. I got to be a hand model and show off broken iPhones for screen repair businesses! ~Hands down~ a great experience. (See famous hands below.)

What was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?

“Why does everyone here like cats so much??”

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

What I love most about my job is the product that we sell and how we can help connect local businesses and customers across the country. I’ve learned to appreciate and understand local businesses, including what they have to offer our communities and economy. The coolest feeling is seeing hundreds of thousands of customers purchase Groupons that I created myself.

What do your parents think you do?

My mom thinks “I work with the most beautiful high-end spas that make Groupon a ton of money” and my dad thinks “I expand profits on every business I work with without a doubt.”

Tell us about your participation in the EVP (Employee Volunteer Program).

One of my favorite programs I volunteer with includes WITS, “Working In The Schools” as a mentor. I go to Jenner Academy, a Chicago Public School, Tuesdays during lunch, only a 10 minute walk from Groupon, and mentor a 3rd grader. We practice reading and writing together and I love seeing my mentee grow throughout the school year. This is my second year participating!

So what keeps you busy outside of work?

I love everything fitness related, practicing Spanish, trying out new restaurants/bars and exploring new cities. I recently applied for the 2018 Chicago Marathon and also booked a Groupon Getaway to Peru in April!

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be and why?

I would be a flight attendant for a Spanish-speaking airline. I love traveling and Spanish, so it’d be a perfect combo!

What’s your favorite local business?

Parlor Pizza

Tell us something about you that would surprise us.

My real name is technically Nicole, but I’ve gone by Cole my whole life! It’s a nickname that stuck at age 2 and I’ve gone by Cole ever since.

Groupon World Headquarters

Andrew Lisy – Director of Product, Marketplace

Andrew Lisy – Director of Product, Marketplace

ANDREW LISY

Director of Product – Marketplace Team
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2014

From bond trading on Wall Street to e-commerce in Chicago, Andrew has taken his high-stakes modeling experience to the more local-focused (and probably slightly less stressful) environment of Groupon.

Tell us about what you do! What do you love about it?

I lead our marketplace teams, which comprise everything related to supply and pricing. In the supply world, we split it into two groups — Supply Intelligence (SI) and Scalable Supply (SS). The SI role is really fun because it’s heavily driven by machine learning models and decision science. I used to be a Wall Street bond trader, so a lot of the mechanics that go into determining the best merchants to bring onto Groupon’s platform are very, very similar to the models I used to use to pick the best stocks and bonds to trade as a trader. On the scalable supply side, I get very involved in partnerships with a variety of companies that do really cool stuff in the local space. We work with these companies to list their inventory on our platform. Finally, pricing is really fun for a lot of reasons — there’s the fun/academic/nerdy/trader/financial side of building out elasticity models, the immediate gratification of seeing our work appear on the front page of the site, and the thrill of working with an amazing engineering and data science team.

What do your parents think you do?

Me texting my mom: “What do you think I do for work”

Mom: “Big data? Head of all data? Analyzes data? Did you get a sitter for Friday?”

So what’s unique about being a Product Manager at Groupon?

More than anywhere else I’ve worked, being a PM at Groupon means ownership. PMs really own their areas and are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of their product(s). It’s an incredible feeling — every day, I come in and influence a big part of a major e-commerce site with tens of millions of users.

And how does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

Incredibly tightly! In order to create a daily habit, we have to have amazing supply and incredible prices. The work I do every day ensures that the merchants we’re bringing onto Groupon are the best ones to engage and delight our customers when they pull the app out of their pocket. If I do my job well, Groupon becomes an indispensable place to check every day to find great merchants around your area.

In order to create a daily habit, we have to have amazing supply and incredible prices. The work I do every day ensures that the merchants we’re bringing onto Groupon are the best ones to engage and delight our customers when they pull the app out of their pocket.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

When we launched card linked offers (CLO), we got a group of product managers in Chicago to go bar hopping to 3 or 4 bars that were in CLO. It was grueling work, and we were all in pretty rough shape after several hours of exhaustive product testing (and testing. and more testing). We try to do this sort of thing every time we launch something new. It’s a really fun way to “eat our own dogfood” and have a great time with co-workers.

Where were you before joining Groupon?

I was a trader — I traded convertible bonds at Merrill Lynch, options at a hedge fund, and then worked in strategy at a high-frequency trading firm. I loved the excitement of the markets, but something really clicked when I started building my own trading platforms for me and my trading group to use. One day, I work up and realized that building the platforms was what really thrilled me, and the trading part was just incidental. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to move to Product.

Smart people doing interesting work

Join us!

What was your first role here and how did you get to where you are today?

I started as a Senior Product Manager on a product called Quantum Lead (QL). QL was (and is) a very data intensive program and tightly connected with our sales org, so I spent a lot of time with our data science teams and sales teams. After working on that for a while, another fairly quantitative role opened up leading our pricing team, and my experience was a good fit to take that on as well. We’re always looking to give people new challenges and opportunities, and it was a really fun space to dive into.

Where can we find you outside of work?

I like making stuff, toys, and eating. Cooking satisfies all three of these interests, so I’m really into making delicious food. I’ve also been getting into woodworking lately because it’s fun to come home from a long day of making code and jump into making physical stuff out of wood. I like making cutting boards because they’re fairly complicated to make but also can come out looking really nice. Finally, I like photography, so I document both of these hobbies on some small personal blogs I keep around.

And lastly, Vim or Emacs?

nano (/nerdcred). I used to be a pretty heavy emacs user but basically lost all of that muscle memory.

Groupon World Headquarters

Aditya Athalye – Software Development Engineer

Aditya Athalye – Software Development Engineer

ADITYA ATHALYE

Software Development Engineer III
Bangalore, India
Joined: 2017

When he’s not writing code that incentivizes consumers to use Groupon, you might find Aditya singing ghazal or performing recitals for his team in Bangalore. 🎤🎶

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favourite Groupon memory amongst many is the first potluck I attended in Bangalore. It was a wonderful day of celebration where everyone brought home cooked food and since we have people coming from various parts of India, we got a taste of the many diverse cuisines across the country. The potluck celebration was made even more special for me as I got an opportunity to perform a tabla recital which was appreciated by one and all.

What was your first role at Groupon and what are you up to today?

I joined the Global Subscriptions Team—part of Push Marketing Engineering—for a month or so before moving to the Incentive Service Engineering Team. Today, my day-to-day activity involves understanding feature requests, converting them into a workable design, writing code for it, doing code reviews and document reviews within the team, and debugging production issues reported by the business. I love the variety of interesting requirements we get and since incentive service is part of the the purchase funnel, it is incredibly critical to the business. I am also fortunate to be working with a very passionate team of engineers and I learn a lot from each one of them.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve worked on so far?

My biggest challenge so far was working on a feature that would allow selective overriding of discount stacking for deals on ILS. More than the technical aspect of the problem, it was the coordination with many stakeholders and getting the relevant information from them, especially since teams were distributed in a way that made it very interesting.

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs converted to 4 spaces 🙂

Vim or emacs? Why?

I have worked with Vim more than Emacs so I am a little biased towards it.

Show us your favorite view from the office:

How does your work connect to Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

The Incentive Service Engineering team deals with promotional pricing which works to entice users to register on the Groupon platform and make purchases. We try to ensure that this process is as seamless to the user as possible and in conjunction with other marketing services, ensure that Groupon as a brand reaches out to the millions of users and makes them consider Groupon as the preferred choice for local commerce. We are also trying to come up with innovative features aimed at providing lucrative options to end users, such as free shipping discounts, single flat price, discount stacking on sale deals, and bucks-based discounts.

What do your parents think you do?

This quote is in Marathi, “पैसे देतात पण अगदी पिळून घेतात,” which literally means that software companies today pay people well, but squeeze the life out of them.   🙂

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

I find that promotes healthy competition and provides opportunities to grow.

Where were you before joining Groupon?

I worked in enterprise software domain for the most part of my career prior to Groupon. Enterprise had a different set of challenges whereas internet companies have totally different ones to contend with. I knew about Groupon since I bought my first tablet from Groupon in 2013. I just happened to stumble upon the Groupon job opening on LinkedIn and applied.

What’s your favorite part of your team’s Software Development process?

Apart from the methodical process we follow for every feature we build, I enjoy the energy and passion of everyone in the team when we run into production issues and each one compliments the other in a successful resolution of the issue.

What are your favorite languages?

Java and Python for programming. Sanskrit for others.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I love singing (Hindustani classical, ghazals) 🙂

Groupon World Headquarters

Laura Hicks – Corporate Recruiter

Laura Hicks – Corporate Recruiter

LAURA HICKS

Corporate Recruiter
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2013

If you’ve interviewed for a role on our Coupons or Getaways team, you’ve probably met Laura. When she’s not busy recruiting for our “in-house startups” or modeling for the in-house photo studio, you can find her organizing volunteering events for the recruiting team or cheering on her alma mater Clemson from Chicago.

What Chicago teams or roles do you hire for?

Sales, HR, Operations, and Analytics

Do you have any advice for candidates interviewing at Groupon?

Be yourself! Groupon is full of unique personalities, backgrounds, and quirks so make sure that you showcase what makes you YOU throughout the interview process! Also, I try to be as straightforward and transparent as possible. Any questions? Just ask!

What’s the #1 thing you wish all candidates did?

Be prepared and ask questions!

What’s something that candidates are surprised to learn about your hiring team?

The Getaways and Coupons teams are true “startups within a startup” and offer a really unique opportunity to work with a tight-knit team and get in at the ground level of fast-growing, quickly-evolving groups.

What inspires you?

I’ve always had a passion for helping others and giving back. I’ve been fortunate to have been given awesome opportunities and experiences so far in my life, so I believe it’s important to pay that forward. Whether it be helping a candidate get their dream job or helping our local community through our volunteer efforts with the Employee Volunteer Program, I am inspired by the feeling of being part of something greater than myself and contributing towards the greater good!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

When Groupon first opened its in-house photo studio, I was asked to participate in a few of their photo shoots. The next thing you know I’m getting texts from friends from college and people I grew up with who had seen my photo on local Groupon deals, asking if I was a model for Groupon! It was equally embarrassing and hilarious…and will probably be my only claim to fame.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

I’ll never forget the energy I felt walking through the doors of our office for my interview. It’s my favorite thing about working at Groupon and still what keeps me excited to come in every morning!

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

As a Recruiter, I serve as a brand ambassador for Groupon and help to find and attract the talent that will join our teams and help Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce.

What’s your proudest Groupon accomplishment?

When I started with Groupon as a Recruiting Coordinator it was my first role out of school and I knew very little about recruiting. Flash forward 4 years: I’ve been promoted twice and have had the opportunity to recruit for a large variety of teams and departments. I’m so proud to have helped build two of our fastest growing channels at Groupon: Getaways and Coupons!

Why’d you get involved in the Employee Volunteer Program?

When interviewing four years ago, one of the most important things that drew me to Groupon was the opportunity to get involved outside of your “day to day.” I became a trained member of our Employee Volunteer Program right away and have been able to plan volunteer events for my team as well as volunteer as a mentor with the Spark Program. Mentoring with Spark has been a wonderful experience and I feel lucky to have a manager that not only allows but values the opportunity to give my time to this program!

If you could do another job for a day, what would it be and why?

I’m obsessed with Kathie Lee & Hoda from the Today Show! It would be a dream come true to fill in as a co-host on their show.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

Although I reside in Chicago, I’m an ACC girl at heart and love all things Clemson Football. GO TIGERS!

Women@Groupon

Groupon World Headquarters

Varun Sood – Director of Engineering, Consumer Web

Varun Sood – Director of Engineering, Consumer Web

VARUN SOOD

Director of Engineering, Consumer Web
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2015

Former boarding school runaway Varun talks about the unique opportunity to make a huge impact on local communities worldwide alongside engineers who make each other better developers.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

It was the first viewing of our new Engineering space in Chicago. From standing desks to pairing stations to state-of-the-art conference rooms, it visually articulated how deeply the company was invested in its engineering and software development teams and processes.

Tell us about your job! What do you love about what you do?

I currently support the consumer web engineering group that is responsible for search and discovery, engagement, and the conversion experience on both the desktop and touch platforms. A good portion of my role involves working with stakeholders to align our deliverables with our mission. The thing I love about my role is building solutions that delight our consumers, helping our engineers learn and grow, and providing value to the business. Another thing I love about my job is having 1-1’s with my team members. We have really talented individuals in Groupon Engineering and I always learn a lot from those meetings.

So what was your first role here and how’d you get to where you are today?

I joined Groupon as an Engineering Manager for the web deal page team. I got to my current role by following three principles:

 

  1. Creating and fostering a collaborative environment
  2. Learning from others
  3. Solving problems the right way

“Although we connect local communities, the scale and impact of the engineering and product teams’ work are truly global. Not many companies provide a platform where you are exposed to this sheer volume of users.”

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve worked on?

When I first came to Groupon, there was a big focus on improving the latency of our web platform. Our web experience was great but just wasn’t fast enough. In the last 18 months, we have improved our numbers to match and in some cases exceed industry standards and we added more rigor around best practices related to performance. Working through these improvements was challenging, but the team’s focus was amazing and the results were worth it.

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs for sure.

What do your parents think you do?

I come from a family of medical practitioners, so I am not sure they completely understand what I do. If my mom has any trouble with her mobile, she calls me thinking I can fix anything just because I told her a while back I make mobile websites.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

We feed off each other’s successes. This creates a very collaborative environment where everyone is rooting for each other to succeed. It also allows each individual to make a bigger impact.

What’s been most surprising about Groupon Engineering?

Although we connect local communities, the scale and impact of the engineering and product teams’ work are truly global. Not many companies provide a platform where you are exposed to this sheer volume of users.

What’s your favorite local business?

It has to be India House in Chicago. It has awesome Indian cuisine and desserts, plus they run deals on Groupon+ from time to time.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I once ran away from my boarding school (I was in second grade and feeling homesick). Luckily the school guards caught up with me, otherwise I was heading home.    🙂

Groupon World Headquarters

Eric Farraro – Android Engineering Manager

Eric Farraro – Android Engineering Manager

ERIC FARRARO

Android Engineering Manager
Palo Alto, CA
Joined: 2015

After 7 years at eBay, Eric met with the Android team at Groupon and took the plunge. His first few months here were like standing in front of a proverbial fire hose, but redesigning our mobile app alongside intellectually curious developers proved to be a rewarding experience.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favorite Groupon memory was launching Mobile 2016, a big ground-up redesign of the UI in the app. It was a huge accomplishment for the team, with tons of people involved in making it happen.

So tell us about your job! What do you do every day and what do you love about it?

I’m an engineering manager and my team is responsible for building great features for users. I work a lot with product managers to understand feature requirements, as well as back-end teams outside mobile in order to manage the dependencies. I love getting to influence the mobile app in such a big way and helping my team to meet their career goals!

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

On Android, we have a great team culture that’s built around being intellectually curious about technical topics, even those that aren’t directly related to the work we do at Groupon. We also have a great culture of giving back to the community and peers, through open source, presentations, or talks at conferences.

What’s your favorite language?

C#

How does your work connect to Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

Since I’m involved in mobile, my work directly connects to Groupon’s mission. Our users are always on the go, and being able to pull out their phone for a quick minute during a break makes it easy for users to make Groupon a daily habit.

What were you up to before joining Groupon?

Before Groupon, I was at eBay for 7 years (Front-end QA > Third Party Developer Technical Support > QA Automation > Windows Phone development) and was actively looking for a new place to work. eBay was a great company and I enjoyed working there, but at the time I was working on the Windows Phone, which was a dying platform. On top of that, the mobile team was in Portland and I was the only developer in California. I liked Portland, but not enough to move there. As a result, I felt pretty isolated from the rest of the team. I started reaching out to recruiters on LinkedIn to look for a new job, preferably working on Android. I was very excited to start! I had wanted to work on Android for a long time, and I was impressed by the impressive credentials (speakers, book authors, etc. ) of the Android team at Groupon.

So what was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?

I had a great first impression. I remember being greeted and mentored by some really friendly people on the Android team who helped me get ramped up really quickly. I like to say that joining Groupon was like a fire hose of information, in a good way. After 7 years at a company, you start to think things can be only one way. I learned instead that things could actually be really different, and I learned a ton, especially in my first 6 months.

Tell us about the most challenging thing you’ve worked on here.

Mobile 2016 was the most challenging project I’ve worked on at Groupon. The challenge wasn’t actually so technical, but more of a project management challenge. By then, I’d transitioned to a manager from a developer, so it was one of my first big projects as a manager. What made it so difficult was that M16 wasn’t just one feature, it was a collection of features that all had to be delivered at the same time in order to provide a cohesive experience for the user. I remember staying up late and putting in some extra time on the weekend to try and make sure all the features could merge, dealing with some pretty nasty merge conflicts along the way.

There were a lot of difficulties coordinating with back-end teams as well. One of the most important features in M16 was what we called the ‘nav card,’ a card that shows up at the top of the deal feed that shows some key categories that Groupon supports. We worked a lot with back-end on that card, but in some cases, it didn’t show up at all. The navigation flow in M16 was fundamentally broken when this ‘nav card’ wasn’t present, so we had to help back-end debug in order to figure out how to solve the problem. We eventually came up with a workaround that involved the client manually adding the nav card, when the back-end didn’t return it.

Where can we find you outside of work?

I do programming outside of work, usually related to game development. Adjacent, I also love playing a lot of games and you can frequently find me playing on different platforms (PC, PS4, mobile).

And tell us something that might surprise us about you!

I’ve been programming since I was in middle school (OK, that’s probably not really surprising if you know me). Another slightly surprising thing might be that I love musicals! I’ve seen a ton: Hamilton, Lion King, Book of Mormon, Avenue Q, Pirates of Penzance, Legally Blonde, Grease, Reefer Madness, Wicked, etc… I’m always excited when new shows come to the Orpheum!

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs

Vim or emacs?

Vim; it’s what I started with in college and I have no idea how to use emacs. I’d rather use a good, modern IDE though.

What’s your favorite part of your team’s Software Development process?

We really believe in good code quality and take pride in craftsmanship. It isn’t good enough to just get the feature done, it needs to be done in a way that makes us proud as engineers.

What’s your favorite local business?

Aqui’s!  

Groupon World Headquarters

Muhammad Rizvi – Business Development Representative

Muhammad Rizvi – Business Development Representative

MUHAMMAD RIZVI

Business Development Representative
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2016

Muhammad’s family may be in Pakistan, but he has formed his own close-knit work family on his Sales team and in the Mentor Program here at Groupon.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Winning Home and Auto rep of the quarter in Q1 2017; this was after I was out for a couple of weeks, so to see my hard work being paid of then was an amazing feeling.

So what brought you to Groupon?

Working at Groupon was one of the biggest snap decisions of my life. I interviewed in late May 2016 for an incoming team that was due to start in July. I was in a tough spot financially at this time and told the interviewer that I wanted to start sooner. A week after my phone screen interview, I was walking into 600 West Chicago for my first day.

What do you love about your job?

My favorite part of the job is the people who make me laugh and smile every day. I also love being a mentor and doing scrums for new hires.

What was the most challenging thing you worked on in 2017?

Watching goals go up at the start of 2017. It was quite challenging to adjust, but with hard work and teamwork, we had a great quarter. I think my biggest motivation was the collective success of our team. We were a closely knit unit, who worked hard together and collaborated to ensure success. The people around us make Groupon such a great place to work, and I think it was our mutual desire for each other’s prosperity that led to us being successful, together.

Personally, the biggest success driver for me was to work hard in order to become the best version of myself and try to live up to my potential. In the past, I have been known as someone who wasn’t necessarily working to their top potential, and I decided to change that and really work to a level where I was satisfied with my own inputs.

“The people around us make Groupon such a great place to work, and I think it was our mutual desire for each other’s prosperity that led to us being successful, together.”

What was going through your head when you were first interviewing at Groupon?

I remember walking around during a tour whilst interviewing, and thinking, “I could fit in here.”

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

I try to connect with all local business owners I talk to and work out how we can best create experiences for their community.

What are you most proud of in your time at Groupon so far?

Watching my mentees graduate. The graduation ceremony for one of my mentees was especially special; I may or may not have teared up a little. She was a single parent in her 30’s, and really needed to graduate from the program. It was very close and she graduated on the final day, and in her speech, she thanked me personally. This moment made all the time I invested in her–the late evenings, the lunches, and the walks around the office to talk–totally worth it. It felt great helping someone older than me work on budget and strategy, and most importantly, feel emotionally supported.

So how many awards have you won during your time here?

Rep of the Month October 2016 and August 2017, Rep of the Quarter 2017

Let’s talk about that: what do you attribute to your continued success here?

I’ve been fairly successful during my time at Groupon, and this is due to a plethora of reasons. The biggest of these is no doubt the incredible support system I have found within the Groupon community. I have been incredibly lucky to make great friends, who in a way are mentors to me, and I always seek their advice. Along with that, I think being creative and working hard have really helped me get far.

And how do you apply all of that to your mentees?

I use a transformational approach in order to help my mentees grow. This is extremely useful because I help my mentees set goals for the short and long run. These are both personal and professional and bring both my mentee and me together. Once these goals are set, the process somewhat unveils itself, and the mentees see great results because they work toward an ideal future, every day.

And what do your parents think you do?

“Something with internet coupons, like the ones in the newspaper.”

What are you up to when you’re not at work?

Watching TV, playing Xbox, hanging out with the pals, pursuing an MBA degree.

If you could have any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

I would like to be on Shark Tank, it would be fun to just invest massive amounts of money and judge other businesses.

What’s your favorite local business?

Elbo Room: it’s my local bar, where I am a local.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

I want to sell and–

Slang all of the Coupons and–

Make the G cat proud

Lastly, tell us something about you that would surprise us.

My whole family is in Pakistan. I came to America for school and just sorta stayed.

Groupon World Headquarters

Ernesto Martin – Senior Finance Manager

Ernesto Martin – Senior Finance Manager

ERNESTO MARTIN

Senior Finance Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2013

Ernesto’s mom may believe he’s actively trying to work as far away from Spain as possible, but if we had the opportunity to work in 4 countries and try our hand at acting, we too would pack our bags and go wherever Groupon sent us.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Lots of options after 4 years in many countries! In Madrid’s office, we always produced our own content for Halloween, Christmas, and other events, and I had the honor to try acting a bit in 2014.

Tell us about your day-to-day work.

I manage the Finance side of Sales for North America. We work with different departments to make sure that our Sales team can have the tools to improve their efficiency. We help model new initiatives and tests. Finally, my team is in charge to set up compensation schemes and get Sales team paid in a timely, accurate, compliant manner.

Give us some background on your where you started and how you got to where you are now!

I joined as Finance Manager for Spain and Portugal as a member of the Southern Europe Finance team. As we grew the business and started to generate standard processes, I was offered a chance to join the European team in London that created a central finance function for the International Business. My job was to manage all processes related to Sales. I was the Business Finance partner for Sales, Sales Ops, Sales Compensation, and Merchant Payments. Groupon asked me to leverage that knowledge acquired in the international markets and move to Chicago to continue my work in Sales Finance, and here I am now! Groupon is a global business that allows us to grow and get out of our comfort zones.

What’s challenging about your work?

Sales Finance in international is quite challenging, as you need to coordinate different countries, languages, opinions, and timezones.

Who inspires you?

Anybody who is able to challenge the status quo and motivate the rest of us to improve things.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

From the very first day, I believed that Groupon had a rich culture with regards to ownership and inclusion. All opinions are respected and it is really easy to share your ideas and to see the impact of what you do. I also had the feeling that things were a bit messy in the beginning and now I feel really impressed about how much we have improved over time.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

We try to maximize the potential of the sales team, making sure that we can get as many relevant deals as possible available for our users.

OK, so your role probably (definitely) exists at other companies, so why Groupon? What keeps you excited to come to work every day?

Groupon sales process is very complex. You need to be able to show to merchants how Groupon can help their business, but that is just half of it, as you also need to set a successful deal structure. The fact that our sales reps are not selling a closed product means that they all need to be experts in every single category they cover. We have an army of extremely talented salespeople and a constant need to update our assumptions. Nowhere else you can get the adrenaline of knowing you can always beat yourself.

Where can we find you outside of work?

I love traveling and tennis. I am also in love with Chicago’s steakhouses, and that is ruining my budget for traveling and my body for tennis.  🙂

If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

Sales, the most important department in almost every company!

What’s your favorite local business?

Any business on Groupon+

What’s your biggest accomplishment while at Groupon?

We created a centralized process for deal approval and special redemptions for international. We had to coordinate Risk, Finance, Merchant Payments, Accounting, Sales and Global operations for all countries and all lines of business. The process was relevant and gave me a lot of exposure to all levels of management, as I was the owner of the project and had the chance to make a positive impact in management efficiency and forecasting accuracy across the region. I learned a lot about coordinating teams in different time zones and process compliance. Also, some commercial skills as we were constantly exposed to ongoing negotiations with our merchants. 

What do your parents think you do?

My mother believes I intentionally pick any job opportunity that gets me further away from Spain.

Why do you participate in Groupon en Español?

I just joined Groupon en Español, and so far, after a couple of activities, I think it is a great way to interact with other colleagues and also see the impact that your employer has in the community.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I like music festivals and techno music. This summer I went to Burning Man and I will try to repeat next year.

 

 

GrouponEnEspanol

Groupon World Headquarters