Joanne Soo – Senior Technical Product Manager in San Francisco

Joanne Soo – Senior Technical Product Manager in San Francisco

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.”

Groupon Attends Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco

Groupon Attends Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco

Grouponers @ Lesbians Who Tech: Two (Lefty!) Engineers Recall Their Experience at the Inclusive & Inspirational Event

WOMEN IN TECH

March 2018

LWT SUMMIT 2018

QUEER

INCLUSIVE

BADASS

JESSICA HARTOG, Software Developer in San Francisco

Taking place in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro District, LWT represents everything that Silicon Valley’s homogeneous engineering community is usually missing. The under-represented minorities in tech (and elsewhere in the world) are welcome on Castro Street and at Groupon. Groupon aims to build up amazing communities like this one — a home office for inspiration, respect, integrity, and inclusion. Acting as the embodiment of so many of the things that Groupon holds as its core values, LWT and the Castro District alike are aligned with what Groupon aims to be. So much of my role at Groupon has to do with helping foster an inclusive community. From working together with other engineers internally, to working with communities in the Open Source landscape, the things that I learned at LWT will help me to engage those communities in a more empathetic, respectful, and inclusive way. Some highlights from the summit were keynote speakers Sally Kohn (CNN Commentator/Activist), Dawn Laguens (Planned Parenthood Federation of America), Megan Smith (Shift 7 & former CTO of the US), and a surprise appearance from Samantha Bee. I was also excited to learn about some awesomely creative open source opportunities like Open Artificial Pancreas System (#OpenAPS), where using open source, engineers can come together to improve the market for care of Type I Diabetics.

KEVIN McINTOSH, Software Engineer & Pride@Groupon Co-Chair in Seattle

I attended LWT because I want Groupon to pay attention to the neglected demographic in the intersection of women and the LGBT space: lesbians in technology. I have partnered with this organization on and off for about four years, so I was excited to help Groupon continue to build the relationship. Groupon is taking greater steps to increase diversity within our organization, especially in tech, and we want to help promote badass women and allies in the tech space.

As an impromptu speaker, I presented a 60-second speech on the importance of businesses being able to consider technology bootcamps as a potential source of high-quality technical talent in addition to the traditional college graduate. On the recruiting side, I had the opportunity to spend some time in the speed mentoring section of the conference, where I ended up mentoring eight individuals on everything from interviews to resume crafting.

One of the highlights was running into Samantha Bee (the comedian from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS) who was interviewing attendees on the spot! As a key takeaway, I will be considering how to be more open at work. The issue is that by not being more open, you risk alienating candidates as well as your coworkers. Also, bringing passionate people to these events really makes a difference!  🙂

A happy hour fundraiser to benefit those affected by the North Bay fire

A happy hour fundraiser to benefit those affected by the North Bay fire

VOLUNTEERING

December 6, 2017

San Francisco & Palo Alto team up with local organizations

to help victims of North Bay fire

Following the North Bay fires affecting nearby communities—including the famous Napa and neighboring vineyards in October—Groupon’s Palo Alto and San Francisco offices organized charity happy hours the week of November 29th. We purchased wines for tastings from vineyards that were burned down and volunteers were asked to bring in baked goods as pairings. Donations collected were donated to support the Anova Center for Education, an autism school that was burned down, and Rebuilding Together, an organization that facilitates home improvements for those affected by natural disasters. In total, we raised $1,000The event had a great turn out and was an enjoyable event for employees to get together after a busy Black Friday week and contribute to a local cause!

Keren Osman – San Francisco Office Manager

Keren Osman – San Francisco Office Manager

KEREN OSMAN

Office Manager
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 2015

Keren takes her role as the San Francisco office’s go-to person pretty seriously. So seriously, in fact, that even when asked about her dream job, she still imagined herself in a role where she’s helping Groupon employees. As a pilot, no less.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favorite memory was the day the entire San Francisco office went to the Giants game on Cinco de Mayo. We started everything off at the office a happy hour, including frozen margaritas and an unlimited supply of tacos.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

I literally felt like a kid in a candy store. I was so overwhelmed by all the snacks, drinks, and most importantly the fro-yo machine in Palo Alto. Everyone was welcoming and open for discussion. I felt like I had found my long-lost work family.

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

I come in contact with everyone who walks through the doors of the San Francisco office. I am a very optimistic person with a smile on my face 99% of the time. I also make an impact by spreading the word about Groupon to local businesses I see in my neighborhood.

What’s your favorite local business?

Native Juice Co. in San Francisco.

Tell us what it’s like in the San Francisco office!

Groupon San Francisco has a very welcoming atmosphere in the office. We are like family, we spend most of our time together throughout the day, so I’ve come to bond with the fellow SF Grouponers over the years.

What’s your biggest accomplishment here (so far)?

I am most proud of moving us out of our old Bush Street office into our new location!

Have you won any awards here?

I won Groupon’s Greatest Award in 2015. I am still very excited about that!

Where were you before joining Groupon?

I worked as a Program Coordinator/Executive Assistant at Dev Bootcamp. I really enjoyed the boot camp environment, which led me to work closely with software engineers. I wanted a change of atmosphere but still wanted to work in the tech/local commerce fields.

What do your parents think you do?

My parents think I eat all the free snacks at Groupon and use Groupon deals during works hours.

Who or what inspires you? 

I am inspired every time I volunteer with my colleagues. It feels so rewarding to be able to give back to my community with Groupon’s support.

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

I would be a pilot flying all of Groupon employees to Bora Bora, Bali, and all over the UK.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I am terrified of heights but somehow ended up on the edge of the CN Tower in Toronto last fall 2016.