Vrnda – Business Development Representative

Vrnda – Business Development Representative

VRNDA

Business Development Representative
Phoenix, AZ
Joined: 2017

We pride ourselves on helping local business owners achieve their goals, and Vrnda is proof of that…on both sides of the coin. After having partnered with Groupon to boost her small business, she’s now behind the scenes helping other business owners do the same!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory? 

My favorite memory was during my initial training when I started at Groupon. I was shadowing a Business Development Manager and I got to observe her relationship with a merchant. It highlighted for me that I could share and not sell and that genuine interest and concern for the business owner had a place on the sales floor at Groupon.

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

I talk to my former self! I owned a small business and ran a Groupon. I talk to the people responsible for maintaining main street businesses. The people that keep communities strong and innovation alive. On really great days, I get to contribute to an individual’s dream of living out their passion and supporting that little shingle they were brave enough to hang!

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

Anything with math….so everything. It is always a challenge to translate the heart and soul of a business into numbers!

Who or what inspires you?

The right of every person to live the “American Dream” or have the fullest expression of their passion….too corny? Ok, the opportunity to get to be exactly who I am and know that every day I have the opportunity to share with one person that their skill, dream, service matters!

There are a lot of amazing Groupon stories. What’s your biggest accomplishment?

The fact that I owned a small business and ran a Groupon. I was a pretty new business owner and had literally worked every day that first year and was exhausted. The Groupon call came at a time when things could have gone either way. As a single mom (at the time) of two teenagers, the boost in income literally put clothes on their backs and food on our table. To have the opportunity to pay that forward is the accomplishment I am most grateful and proud of.

What do your parents think you do?

“You make those dooda thingies that are on my computer sight thingy right? Isn’t that just a lovely thing.”

Tell us something about you that’d surprise us!

Vrnda, my name, is a Hindu goddess. I used to hate my name because I could never just walk into a store and get a name keychain…and the list goes on. Now, I have a huge piece of artwork on my back that is a representation of the Hindu goddess Vrnda and I like my name!

You’re a member of quite a few of our employee resource groups. Why do you participate?

I’m a member of Veterans at Groupon to give back and support the 30 years my husband served in the Army before retiring. I’m also a member of Blacks in Groupon to support initiatives that are inclusive and support diversity. Lastly, I joined Pride at Groupon to encourage equality and safe free expression within the workplace.

So what were you up to before joining Groupon?

I am a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and Certified Dog Trainer. I was also a Mentor for Animal Behavior College and CATCH Trainer’s Academy. I owned a Kennel and Behavior Center that specialized in canine behavior issues that included aggression, separation anxiety, and destructive behavior within the home. I am also a 200 CYT with 100 additional hours toward my 500 RYT.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

CATS! CATS! CATS! My husband and I have modern Siamese and Sphynx cats (we were married on April Fool’s Day). I also enjoy yoga and puzzles.

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

Professional cotton candy taster…because cotton candy.

What’s your favorite local business?

Growing up on Virginia Blue Crabs, my favorite place is Lee Lee’s International Market because I can pick up 30 or so just for me any day of the week!

Sales roles exist at other companies, so what makes selling at Groupon unique?

I believe in the product! I’m not a salesperson but I’m a heck of a share person AND I get to play my music and dance around all day long while making the world a better place!

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Merchants are talking–

Small businesses are growing–

Hometowns are thriving

GrouponForVeterans

Blacks In Groupon

 

Groupon World Headquarters

Blacks in Groupon hosts 2017 year-end mixer

Blacks in Groupon hosts 2017 year-end mixer

BLACKS in GROUPON

Reflecting on 2017 at BiG’s End-of-Year Mixer

Written by BiG Co-chairs Daryl Billingsley & Jasmine Alleyne-Gill

 

Well, it has been a challenging, rewarding, hilarious, and infuriating year, but despite all of that, over 50 members of Blacks in Groupon came together earlier this month for an end-of-year mixer to reflect on 2017. Groupon Chief Marketing Officer and former sponsor, Vinayak Hegde, virtually kicked off the event from Seattle and spoke about and improving Groupon’s marketplace and talent pools through I&D initiatives, a key focal point for 2018.

We had plenty of other topics to talk about while we mingled. Between politics, reality TV, music (shout out to Kendrick and Solange), creative writing (Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, Donald Glover, Jordan Peele: we see you!), there are plenty of things to celebrate and be proud of. At Groupon, 2017 was also full of its own twists and turns, but we have an amazing opportunity to redirect our momentum as we head into 2018. Don’t be alarmed, as we are “back in stride again!”

We have collectively pledged to bring BiG the most relative, positive, and encouraging content and programs in 2018. Some of what we’re excited to tackle in the upcoming year includes: reigniting our professional development series; increasing value to marketplace via an initiative focused on connecting with merchants in urban communities; showing a screening of a documentary written by two Chicago teens featured in Ebony Magazine; and weekly themes to celebrate Black History Month.

We want to challenge perspectives and push members and allies to constantly strive for excellence. The overall success of BiG is directly correlated to our members’ success professionally and this vision cannot be carried out without the support and participation of our Grouponers. So…let’s reclaim our time! (We love you, Auntie Maxine.)

Milan McGraw – Senior Manager of Operations

Milan McGraw – Senior Manager of Operations

MILAN MCGRAW

Senior Manager of Operations
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2015

In all honesty, we weren’t prepared for the amazing stories Milan would tell about growing up feet away from the Groupon headquarters in Chicago, changing jobs from a little ecommerce company in Seattle, and supporting veterans around the country. Enjoy.

Who or what inspires you?

What inspires me the most is looking outside the office window on Larrabee Street and being able to see my old home in Cabrini-Green. Growing up, most folks from the Cabrini Housing Projects did not go to college, so being able to see what remains of it outside my window is a gentle reminder I must continue to do great things and set the example for others to follow. When my family left Cabrini, we moved to Humboldt Park where we still reside today. Each time I come to work, I am reminded of where I came from and inspired to know that with hard work, we can come from any place or from any situation and be anything we want to be.

What’d you do before you joined Groupon?

Prior to Groupon, I worked at a little company in Seattle named Amazon. While a successful company, it’s not the best place to work if you have kids. Having a place to work that provides work-life balance is my number one priority. I always remembered the Groupon folks I came across while working for Dyson a few years ago, and everyone always said great things about working at Groupon. Once I began my search to move back to Chicago, Groupon became my top choice. I could not have made a better decision: Groupon provides a great work-life balance, room for growth, and there is always something new to work on.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

My first impression of Groupon was several years ago while visiting the 600 West Chicago building and seeing everyone in a green Groupon jacket. I was like “Wow, this place must be amazing!” People were smiling, having fun, and were excited to talk about what they were working on. Overall, my impression is still the same: Groupon is an incredible company that changes lives. Simply put, Groupon is a company that wants everyone to have fun and add value to the lives of both employees and customers.

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

My work impacts Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce by selling goods from local suppliers on our e-commerce platform, educating vendors about how to set up their supply chain to grow with Groupon’s volume, and assisting in planning the right selection mix for our customers. Everything we do in operations is centered around connecting with local vendors and helping them scale their business on our platform.

“It’s really about coming together as a Groupon family to support one another, identifying the skill sets needed to help grow the business, and cultivating internal talent by providing people with the feedback and coaching needed to learn and grow within the organization.”

What’s your biggest Groupon accomplishment?

One of the most rewarding moments for me was last year when my team learned SQL and Tableau, then started running their own SQL queries without having to seek outside assistance. Team members took a variety of MOOCs, including Coursera and Udacity. It was exciting news the first time I received a message notifying me that a member of my team had completed their first Tableau class. Being able to retrieve, visualize, and display our own data has helped our department become the authority on operations. In the past when we worked on several dashboards and made requests to other teams for assistance, we had to rely on their availability to assist. Today, when we need some advanced analysis, a new dashboard, or an innovative way to communicate a story, our team can build our own reporting structures to retrieve the data. It’s really about coming together as a Groupon family to support one another, identifying the skill sets needed to help grow the business, and cultivating internal talent by providing people with the feedback and coaching needed to learn and grow within the organization.

Have you won any awards recently?

I recently won 1st place in the GLO-BUS: Developing Winning Competitive Strategies Competition. I acted as a senior executive at the best-performing company in an industry setting where a team of students ran companies and crafted strategies aimed at achieving superior financial performance and market leadership; the exercise was conducted in a strategy course at Morris Graduate School of Management.

What do your parents think you do?

My parents literally think I sell coupons…it’s hilarious. Every time I see them they ask “…any new Groupon coupons?” referring back to a time when we used a Groupon to have dinner at Al’s Char-House in La Grange. Hilarious!

So you’re involved with basically every Employee Resource Group as well as the Employee Volunteer Program. Can you tell us about your involvement in some of these groups?

I joined Groupon for Veterans in order to give back to those who have served and continue to serve. I am a U.S. Marine and my daughter is currently serving on active duty at Marine Corps Base in Honolulu. Participation in the Veterans ERG for me was a must for me. Educating others on the professional skills associated with military service is crucial: most people think of diversity based on race, gender, generations and thinking styles, but often forget military veterans. I feel that veterans add a ton of perspective to the workplace; most of us have traveled all over the world and are extremely serious when it comes to getting the job done. I joined G4Vets to continue sharing my military experiences with others, assist transitioning veterans with connecting to Groupon, and translate their leadership skills to the workplace. My most memorable event with our G4Vets was taking ten non-veteran Groupon volunteers to the Jesse Brown Veterans Hospital to volunteer for an afternoon. Most were in awe that such a place exists and were in shock that there were so many veterans who required special attention. We walked with veterans, read the newspaper, and listened to one veteran’s story from WWII—an Army Signal Intelligence Officer—who later became a postal police officer. It was not the volunteering that meant the most to me, but being able to share this experience with others who have no exposure to some of the challenges facing veterans.

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

I would be a fireman because when a fireman gets ready for work, nobody asks, “What do you do?” Kids dig them, they straight up save lives, you get paid to help others, and at the end of the day, you’re a hero.

What’s your favorite local business?

My favorite local business is Yamato’s Foot Massage Bar. There is nothing better than reflexology! Get the Groupon!

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

The best view in town — Having coffee with my team — Making things happen

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I run two marathons per year (sometimes more). My most recent 2017 marathons include the Chicago Marathon and the US Marine Corps Marathon in DC, just two weeks later. I run these two specific marathons every year (and will for the rest of my life) so I can run for all those who are unable to run and for those who have sacrificed their lives to keep us safe.

 

Groupon for Veterans

Blacks In Groupon

Parents@Groupon

Pride@Groupon

GrouponEnEspanol

Women@Groupon

 

Groupon World Headquarters