Jon Smith – Enterprise Relationship Manager

Jon Smith – Enterprise Relationship Manager

JON SMITH

Enterprise Relationship Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2011

Jon has made quite the career for himself at Groupon after transitioning from Customer Service to the National Sales Team…and you can check him out on Spotify, too!

Tell us about your job!

My role is Enterprise Relationship Manager. I work with national retailers and own the alcohol and magazines categories.

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

Just about every year there is a major challenge that pushes me to stretch out of my comfort zone. Groupon is always changing, so just being around for the multiple changes, competitors, public perceptions (good and bad) can be looked at as a challenge by itself, but there are a few specific examples I can think of: I was the first person to have the role of CS Resolutions Team Representative exclusively for National deals. This required me to help develop what the position would do, what was required of it, and how it should handle national offers and customer issues, which needed to be interacted with differently from our local process.

I then worked on some rather large deals in the company history like Toys R Us, the first Starbucks campaign, Target, and many more. Then I transitioned to National Sales & Account management from CS, without any prior sales experience; learning to sell and navigate merchant relationships on the fly was a huge challenge, but also fun and rewarding. I felt like I finally found a role where I could use my skill set not to just make customers happy, but make a different kind of customer (the merchant) more successful in their business goals.

Have you won any awards here?

President’s Club 2014 and I was selected to the Merchant Development Mentor Program in 2017

My team is hiring.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Reach the tipping point – –

That’s a two thousand ten Joke – –

A cat has no name

What do your parents think you do?

My mom said, “Keep clients satisfied,” and my dad said, “You never really told us, but isn’t it something to do with selling things for discounts on Groupon?”

Tell us about your involvement with Groupon Volunteers.

Admittedly, I could volunteer more frequently; every year I just try to be a better person (in a million ways) I do feel that service of all kinds is important because it helps me maintain perspective for what really matters and what life is all about at the end of the day. Plus, sometimes I get lucky and highlighted in articles like this.

What were you up to before joining Groupon?

I was a Guest Services Trainer at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. I followed my girlfriend at the time (wife now!) into Chicago’s snowpocalypse of 2010/2011 after she told me about this great new company called Groupon that offered her a job.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I write songs and spend a lot of time on my music project which is on iTunes & Spotify! Feel free to plug that all day!

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

Storm chaser, not a joke. I’m too fearful to do that over and over but I am fascinated by tornadoes.

What’s your favorite local business?

Macku Sushi

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

People don’t usually believe that my music project is really me.

“In the corporate world, it’s hard to find an environment where people are really looking to do their best work with a bigger picture mindset, that’s what we have here – the people are special.”

What’s your proudest Groupon accomplishment?

Two things I am particularly proud of:

1. Starting my career with Groupon in Customer Support and transitioning in less than two years to National Sales/Account Management without having any prior sales experience. I earned the respect and trust of the department through my role as National CS Resolutions representative and really learned the importance and impact that networking can have on not just my career, but life in general. I was brought into a very intense sink-or-swim environment without a sales foundation and managed to navigate those challenges and win presidents club my 2nd year in.

2. Working on the very first Starbucks campaign. That campaign sold between 1-2 million vouchers in just a few days. It was a big deal for the company and had a lot of eyes on its performance, both internal and external so being part of such a massive project was exciting. After it ended, Rich Williams (prior to CEO) wrote an email to the company and referenced a few dozen people by name, mine included, which was a really proud moment for me.

What inspires you?

Authenticity. I’m not a big “rah-rah” kind of personality, but I am inspired by people taking action through passion and I believe authentic and honest motivation is infectious.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

I was relatively young when I started here and remembered thinking that movies about office/business life didn’t really live up to how daily Groupon life was.

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

This is tricky, given that I work in the Enterprise Division. While we do work with national retailers, not every merchant has an employee base of 5,000 people. There are several businesses I work with consistently that can reach customers across the country and provide them services continuously. While they may have a large reach, they are still family-run businesses who are as concerned with developing relationships with their customer base as the local pizza restaurant on the corner.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve seen happen at the office?

It could be between the T. Rex roaming the halls, seeing Ashton Kutcher in the lobby, Steve Harvey visiting the office, holding Olympic events in office during the 2012 games, the parade we had for the guy who lived off of Groupon for all of 2010, the day we went public, or the unveiling of all the conference room names.

Your role may exist at other companies, so why Groupon? What keeps you excited to come to work every day?

Groupon itself is unique and made up of so many creative, entertaining, intelligent, and driven individuals. On any given day, you never know what you will walk by, or what will walk by you. In the corporate world it’s hard to find an environment where people are really looking to do their best work with a bigger picture mindset, that’s what we have here – the people are special.

Valerie Smith – Customer Support Representative

Valerie Smith – Customer Support Representative

VALERIE M. SMITH

Customer Support Representative
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2014

What’s your favorite conference room?

Show us your team!

Team Eastwood ROCKS! We are the pilot team for Groupon+ and BeautyNow.

Me and Digital Asset Manager, Jeff Knutson, with our free copies of “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington from her speech at Groupon!

Valerie makes things happen! From maintaining top scores in Customer Service to orchestrating a last-minute Chinese business delegation office tour…with help from our CEO!

Tell us about your job. What do you?

My position as a Customer Support Representative has changed to a specialized position, where I work with my team on various types of projects from BeautyNow, Costco and much more in the pipeline! I’m also answering callback phone calls and what I love is solving problems in an effective where my customers are surprised that something so complicated can be solved in less than five minutes.

What has been the most challenging thing you’ve worked on in your time here?

The most challenging thing was beginning my journey at Groupon! Only one week to train and know the processes for the Goods Channel and answering the phone calls for the first time and it was Black Friday! I had to take what I know from 15+ years of Customer Service experience from my previous employers and apply my strengths to master the customer service processes at Groupon, Inc.

There are a lot of awesome Groupon stories. What’s yours?

When my Toastmasters colleague, Henry Jiang, contacted me, saying he had some Chinese Business Delegates visiting Chicago and that Groupon was top on the list of places to visit. This call came at the end of October of 2017. I asked when the delegates wanted to visit and he said the following week—which also happened to be earnings week! Did I make it happen? Yes, I did! I had emailed Groupon CEO Rich Williams and he responded immediately, getting me in touch with the right people. Within two business days, the Chinese Business Delegation was scheduled to visit the following week. That was a quick turnaround!

It was an amazing experience to have the Chinese Business Delegation from a high-end executives network called Zhisland take a tour of Groupon and meet key stakeholders at Groupon and have a Q&A session. Being part of the tour and Q& A session was a great experience from an international standpoint.

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

Effective communication and understanding the customer’s bottom line. Also, I add value to each and every Groupon customer experience when I speak with them on the phone.

Have you won any awards during your time here?

My Q&A and Customer Service scores are always 95-100% monthly because I add value to each customer I come in contact with on a daily basis. The awards I have obtained so far are 2015 Rep of the Month on my team; November 2016, December 2016, and February 2017 80/80 CSAT winner giving exceptional customer service; and October 2017 Exceptional Customer Service during CS Week.

Valerie with her sister, Sandra, at the Groupon holiday party

So take us back to life pre-Groupon. What were you doing? How did you get here?

Before Groupon, I was working for a credit union as a Human Resources Associate within Learning & Development and Recruiting with my HR Director. My coworker at the credit union received an invite to apply for an onsite interview at Groupon headquarters in Chicago. This coworker knew my energy levels and how I always wanted to work at a global company. He knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime. He emailed me and I applied for a part-time CS position to get in the door with my customer service skills! The rest is history.

What was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?

My first impression of Groupon was how much things change. If you cannot adapt to change quickly, you have to make a decision if you are in or not!

Tell us about your involvement with Blacks in Groupon!

I joined BIG because I wanted to be a part of the Diversity & Inclusion movement happening at Groupon. I’m the Marketing and Communication Lead and I’m looking forward to spreading the voices within BIG onto the People Blog and other marketing channels.

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

Talent Development: I have a passion to train and mentor talent to see them grow within their strengths and placed in roles that would allow them to shine!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Seeing All For One perform on the first floor of our building in Chicago It was so much fun. It was an afternoon full of FUN!

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I’m a professional flautist!

Who or what inspires you?

Speakers like Oprah, Les Brown, Lisa Nichols, Eric Thomas, John C. Maxwell, Jim Rohn and Tony Robbins! I love every last speaker for being transparent on what it means to be intentional with action, behind your goals. I live that daily. I mean what I say, I mean what I do!

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I’m involved in Toastmasters, taking on leadership roles, improving speaking techniques, and am a social media queen training others on how to utilize social media channels. There is one passion I do have and that is training individuals to develop their own personal brand!

Roshni Mukherjee – Senior Customer Support Representative in Bangalore

Roshni Mukherjee – Senior Customer Support Representative in Bangalore

ROSHNI MUKHERJEE

Senior Customer Support Representative
Bangalore, India
Joined: 2017

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference. In Roshni’s case, it was coasters in the Bangalore lobby that helped her realize Groupon was for her!

What was your first role when you joined? 

I joined as a Senior Customer Support Representative and within a span of three months, I was asked to work on the Bangalore Escalations Queue. It was a really new experience and it helped me prepare for when they actually had an interview and test procedure to choose the new SME’s in Bangalore.

So tell us about your job! What do you do?

As an SME here at Bangalore, my key focus is to try and bring up one of the key metrics for the entire process. We regularly do audits for agents and we have our own dedicated daily editorial board, which sends out update and solutions for any viral issues. We also work on the Bangalore Escalation Queue. This is how we get insights into what the areas of improvement are in an agent’s knowledge base and determine how we can improve it, bringing up their Resolution Rate.

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

When I was selected to work on the Bangalore Escalations Queue, it felt like we were thrown into a pool of water and we did not have any knowledge and training before we started working on it. We had to learn on the job and the learning curve was indeed steep. I would really like to thank Benjamin Minga and Matthew Washington: two people who really made my life so much easier at that time by being there with us and assisting with escalations which stumped us.

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

Customer Support is always the only part of a company that a customer can directly interact with. We have to make sure that we try and go the extra mile for them. Walking them through their issues and treating them with respect guarantees that they make us a daily habit. They would know that they have someone to fall back on and help them.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

On Diwali, 2017 we were asked to come up with a dance routine. So a couple of friends and I planned a dance routine and performing it was so much fun! Also the time I was in Training. Ratheesh Rajan was training us on how the whole process works, and I can’t explain how lovely that experience was. I am an extremely curious person and I grilled him with questions regarding the process every few minutes. But he was extremely patient with us and I wish I had teachers like him during my school and college days.

So where were you before joining Groupon?

I used to work for a start-up called Headout for a few months. Once they automated the process I worked in, I landed an interview here at Groupon. and woohoo, here we are!

What was your first impression of Groupon?

On the day when I came in for an interview, I remember sitting in the waiting room and they had these funny coasters that said, “Put your drink on me. Or just hold me. I’d like that, too.” It felt so nice to know that a huge multi-national company such as Groupon is not afraid to show its wit and humour.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I used to be a theater actor for a year before I moved to Bangalore. I have acted in more than 20 shows and plays in a year.

 

LaTrice – Member Experience Manager

LaTrice – Member Experience Manager

LATRICE

Member Experience Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2016

LaTrice talks BeautyNow, moving up at Groupon, and her experience volunteering to help a local high school’s volleyball team.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

During my time as a Social Media Moderator, which was part of the Customer Support team, the department celebrated Customer Support Week. During that week, there were random celebrations, but the funniest thing that happened was Ronnie, the VP of the department, passing out ice cream on a motor scooter. It was a hilarious thing to see.

Tell us about your job! What do you do? 

My position aligns customers with the various beauty merchants through the appointment setting process.

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

Being part of the Customer Support team was a challenge because of the various projects we had, being able to adapt to the various needs of the business, and aligning with customers’ needs as well.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by many people. My mother, my older sister, and my best friend are amazing inspirations to me. They are women who—in spite of various restrictions and limitations—continue to persevere and inspire change in the world.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

Everything moves at the speed of light. Do not expect things to remain stagnant or rudimentary because things move fast!

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

We work specifically with local businesses in the BeautyNow area. The majority of our merchants are local businesses that offer amazing services which most clients would not find without aligning with the BeautyNow area of the app.

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

I am very proud of every goal I made in my original department. Through hard work and dedication to my tasks, I reached every one of them. At the end of my tenure in Customer Support, I was a Customer Support All-Star and I used my experience and diligence to move out of the Customer Service department into the BeautyNow area.

What do your parents think you do?

When working on Social Media, “You mean to tell me that you sit on Facebook and Twitter? At least you’re getting paid to do what you do all day anyway!”

Why do you volunteer with Groupon Volunteers? 

When I learned that Groupon supported Employee Resource Programs, I thought it would be a great idea to take advantage of the opportunity to meet and engage with members of the organization in various roles and capacities. I wanted to participate with Groupon Volunteers because it allowed me to be a mentor. Working as a mentor with the Spark Program, I partner mentored three young ladies at a local grammar school. Through various fundraising efforts, we were able to raise over $300 towards replacing the school’s volleyball team uniforms.

What’d you do before Groupon? How’d you get here?

A winding road through many retail and professional environments.

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

I would be a fashion stylist for a major awards show.

Meet Artur: kickboxing and fantasy novels and hitchhiking… all in a day for our CS agent in Katowice!

Meet Artur: kickboxing and fantasy novels and hitchhiking… all in a day for our CS agent in Katowice!

ARTUR

CUSTOMER SERVICE
KATOWICE
Joined: 2017

You are one of the very first people who started within the Katowice bunch. How has your time at Groupon been so far?
It has been great! While working in Groupon, I’ve met interesting people from all over the word, e.g. India or US. Time spent with them was one of the best experiences since I started my job.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m 20 year old IB (International Baccalaureate) student from Poland. I like reading fantasy, watching movies, training kick-boxing… my greatest dream is to hitchhike through all continents!

And what made you decide to apply for a job @Groupon?
Lack of dress code (slippers are allowed!), lots of benefits and a brand new office in the heart of Katowice.

Is there anything that surprised you @Groupon?
Absolutely brilliant chillroom!

 

Groupon in Katowice? Nice people, cool office and great benefits

 

What is your job about?
My job is about giving customers answers to their questions, concerns… basically helping them and often making their life a bit easier 😉

What is the funniest conversation you’ve had with a customer so far?
So, there was a customer, who besides asking me about Groupon business, also asked questions about me, my dreams, age, homeland, if I want to travel… we can always expect interesting conversations here!

It’s more than 100 people in the Katowice office now. What do you think about how Groupon is already affecting the local job market?
I think Groupon made a great opportunity for a lot of people to gain experience and to allow them to work & study at the same time.

Tell us, what is your superpower?
I can distract other colleagues from their tasks. Works every time!

What do you like the most about @Groupon so far?
Lots of breaks during which I can compete with friends in Just Dance 😀

Do you have any advice for people thinking about joining Groupon?
Just give it a go and see for yourself!

What about some holiday?
Going to hitchhike through Northern Poland soon!

 

Israel Pederson – Sales Operations, Reporting and Analytics

Israel Pederson – Sales Operations, Reporting and Analytics

ISRAEL PEDERSON

Senior Analyst – Sales Operations, Reporting & Anaytics
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2010

Another Groupon veteran with a super unique career path, Israel takes us back to 2010 when Groupon launched its first national deal then brings us up to speed on his journey from customer service to analytics.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

I really love to see the way that teams celebrate birthdays. We had a team member who got this helium balloon and it stayed afloat for an impressive amount of time…I’m talking like 5 or 6 months. We had a seriously vested interest in the longevity of that helium Power Ranger balloon.

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

I’m on the analytics team in Local Sales Operations. I’ve gotten to do so many amazing jobs at Groupon, and this one I really get to combine my understanding of the business with a lot of the hard skills I’ve picked up along the way to solve interesting problems and drive improvement and change in the local business.

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

My first opportunity to manage a team came during a time of immense change at the company; we were merging two Merchant Services teams focused on different parts of the merchant lifecycle into one, and it required rebuilding many of the underlying operational processes, intense training, and a lot of change management. While it was extremely challenging, the way the teams handled everything is what makes this company so great.

What inspires you?

I’m continually inspired by learning new things and being around people who embrace continued learning.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

I joined as a Customer Service Rep right around Groupon’s launch of the GAP deal (a seminal moment in Groupon’s history). It was so crazy, but what I really remember was how everyone really looked out for each other. There was such a sense of being in it together.

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

Our sales team is what drives such a unique mix of amazing merchants. We’re working together to continually empower them to bring the best that cities have to offer.

What are you most proud of in your time here?

I’m extremely lucky to have been a part of so many amazing teams at Groupon. My career started in Customer Support. I’ve managed teams, created and operationally managed large-scale processes, and had the opportunity to see a lot of the world as a Global Operations Manager. I’ve had mentors who have inspired me to continue learning more technical skills, which opened opportunities in analytics that have been extremely fulfilling. I’m proud of the fact that, even in a startup company with so much change, I’ve been able to carve out my own career path and continue learning through each step of the process.

“I’m proud of the fact that, even in a startup company with so much change, I’ve been able to carve out my own career path and continue learning through each step of the process.”

So what were you doing before joining Groupon and how did you end up here?

I, like many young Chicago imports, came to explore the world of improv comedy. Although it definitely feels like a past life, I got the opportunity to perform and teach with a ton of amazing people. One of those awesome people had gotten a job at a startup called Groupon, and said he could get me an interview. I am forever grateful for that conversation!

You probably have a life outside of Groupon, what keeps you busy outside of work?

My wife and I have a 5- and 2-year-old at home. We enjoy but are not limited to trips to the zoo, bounce houses, the aquarium, crafts, and Daniel Tiger.

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

I would love to be on Groupon’s Social Media team for a day. Some of the stuff that has come out of there is absolutely hilarious.

What’s your favorite local business?

Geja’s; my wife and I have celebrated many occasions there.

What’s your favorite view from the office?

You’re a member of Parents@Groupon; what do you enjoy about being involved?

It’s so encouraging to see the way Groupon supports parents, from the maternity/paternity policy to the way you hear our CEO Rich Williams talk about what his family means to him. There is absolutely a culture of keeping family a priority. ‘Bring Your Kids to Work Day’ is truly a sight to behold. The team does such a great job creating engaging activities for the kids, and it’s really fun to bring them to the office!

Your role may exist at other companies, so why Groupon? What keeps you here?

We’re solving really interesting problems in an environment that we’re constantly tweaking. While we are a big company, the ability to make quick changes and always be evolving is something that I really appreciate and embrace.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Catchy portmanteau – internet caught by surprise – building the future

Tell us something about you that’d surprise us.

At Purdue, I got the opportunity to perform with the Purdue Varsity Glee Club, doing over 500 shows across the US and the world. Purdue does not have a school of music, yet Purdue Musical Organizations unlocks a truly professional performance opportunity for collegiate students while getting their education in everything but music. Many of my weekends in college were spent traveling across the country in a bus!

Photos from international Groupon visits:

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Meet Oltion, our Site Manger in Katowice

Meet Oltion, our Site Manger in Katowice

OLTION BERBERI

Site Manager
Katowice, Poland

Polyglot, movie buff, InterMilan fanatic and lover of Polish tartar: just some of the things Oltion manages to squeeze into his spare time when he’s not busy managing operations at our new Shared Services Centre in Katowice, Poland.  

Tell us a little bit about your work experience in general and in Groupon.
I started working as a Customer Service agent in Tirana back in 2006 (nearly 11 years ago) and, though a weird twist of fate, ended up becoming a sales project trainer when I had to step in for a colleague who was sick and couldn’t speak: I had to run the entire training session on my own and was then asked to do it all the time. I’ve also worked as an interpreter in the Italian embassy in Tirana and co-founded a call centre business with a friend, which allowed me to combine the skills I learned in my previous roles.

After that, I joined Teleperformance Albania in 2009 as a Team Leader, supporting the Italian market where I was quickly promoted to Workforce Manager. This role was all about the numbers, from analysing arrival patterns on specific intervals, to producing forecasts and planning based on statistical predictions. I’m really into numbers, so I loved the job! I also worked as assistant to the COO which was a steep learning curve because I had to deal with all departments simultaneously.

What about when you joined Groupon?
Before joining Groupon, I worked as an Account Manager for one of Groupon’s vendors in Tirana. I started with Groupon in Dublin covering different international markets and recently moved to Katowice to take up a new role of Site Manager for the brand new Shared Service Centre which services the US and EMEA markets, so the challenge is huge!  I love that I get to meet my team every day – I used to work remotely all the time, so seeing folks face-to-face is a nice change.

 

I love that I get to meet my team every day. I used to work remotely all the time, so seeing folks face-to-face is a nice change.

Site Manager for the new Katowice SSC… sounds like a big job? 
Well, yes. It is! My role is essentially all about helping support the team managers, leaders and agents who have to provide Groupon’s customers with top class service in a timely and helpful manner.
One of my main goals is to identify ways we can improve our service: this means that everyone, from managers to agents, has to fully understand the process and spot how we can drive efficiencies. This, in turn requires us to capture data, identify patterns and make small changes that ultimately drive productivity and enhance the customer experience. It’s up to me to create the atmosphere and provide the tools that help my team achieve that. Again – it’s a lot about numbers, so I love it!

What are your ambitions for the Katowice office? What do you like the most in your job? What do you like the most about working @Groupon?
The Shared Services Centre in Katowice represents a major green-field investment in Poland for Groupon and I want to help make sure it becomes the leading example of a modern, vibrant place to work. Places like these are always moving and evolving so harnessing that sense of perpetuum mobile – or constant motion – will allow us to scale and grow in a smart way. On a personal level, I want to be the kind of manager that inspires and leads by example: someone people can rely on, with an effective strategy to help make life easier (and less boring!) and bring the performance home.
The relaxed environment is one of the best things about working here. A lot of firms still have very grey, corporate spaces and a formal atmosphere, but our aim is to provide our teams with the space to enjoy their work without the need to wear a suit and also give them room to relax and take a break. Work/life balance is really important. Folks here tend to love their table tennis – I might even join them one day for a game, if I have time 🙂

Have you spotted any differences between the Dublin and the Katowice office you just joined? How about your home country and Poland?
Albania and Poland have a lot in common, not least because of our shared history, but also in terms of how we approach life, so I felt right at home here very quickly. I want to explore a bit too, visit the Baltic sea and the Pomeranian region and I love languages, so learning Polish is definitely one of my goals.
The Dublin office is quite diverse and international – it’s one of Groupon’s main engineering and marketing hubs, so it’s a real melting pot of different nationalities and skills. That certainly would be one big difference between Dublin and Katowice but I believe we will turn this office into an international piece of Katowice in no time!

Katowice is a great city: it’s vibrant and bustling full of people. What I’ve found here is that people are extremely motivated, hard-working with lots of energy and are eager to learn.
Also, working here means being part of a huge international company, so there’s great value to being able to collaborate with multiple departments all around the world and get to know the people from different cultures and backgrounds.

John Stokvis – Technical Product Manager

John Stokvis – Technical Product Manager

JOHN STOKVIS

Technical Product Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2011

What’s your favorite conference room?

It’s not every day you get to interview a Product Manager whose secret talent is being able to balance 3 chairs on their chin…because they were once a circus performer. Talk about making big career moves!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favorite Groupon memory isn’t something big or grand. It was actually a small act, but it’s resonated with me ever since. It exemplifies what I think is special about Groupon and is the source of a lot of our success. Around 2013, I was working as an analyst building dashboards. Unprompted, a more senior employee gathered a group together (analysts and non-analysts) for a tutorial on SQL. He created a whole powerpoint presentation and walked us through concepts and small tricks he had picked up. He even scheduled several follow-ups with the group and was always available to answer questions and learn tricks. He wasn’t even on the same team as I was, but saw an opportunity to help us all improve. He’s no longer at Groupon, but I constantly think back to what he did for me. I try to keep that part of the culture alive. Supporting your teammates and making each other look good is pervasive at Groupon. It’s what I love most about working here.

So before joining Groupon you were…

An actor and circus performer. I did some theater and circus around town, as well as the occasional temp job. An actor in one of the shows I was in helped me get a job in customer service and I’ve been here ever since.

If you can remember back to 2011…what was your first impression of Groupon?

I remember it flashing across my consciousness before I started working here. It was this super cool way to get a great deal with your friends. And it just showed up in your email inbox! It’s been crazy to see where we’ve come from there.

You have an interesting career path here…tell us about it!

I started as a front-line Customer Service Rep, helping folks find their Groupons, cancel purchases, and solve issues with merchants. We had a ping-pong table in the office and there were about 10 of us who got pretty good. We all started talking about who was the best and on my breaks, I built a spreadsheet in Google Docs to figure it out (I Googled a bunch of formulas and read about the ELO ranking system – the same one that Nate Silver uses a lot on FiveThirtyEight). Then I got people to enter the results of their matches to determine who was the champion (hint: it wasn’t me). About a year in, there was a special project to use predictive analytics to predict which deals would be likely to have lots of refunds. Because of the ping pong spreadsheet, they gave me a shot and I loved it! I learned all about SQL and analytics, ended up joining the fledgling Risk Management team as their first analyst (there were 4 of us at the time, now it’s a global department!).

From there I moved to Global Operations to help build dashboards and analytics for our efforts to take Groupon’s global footprint and streamline it; at that time, we were operating in almost 50 countries, sometimes it seemed like 50 different companies, all called “Groupon.” After that, I learned about Product and moved over here. I worked on our backend merchant database for about a year and half. When Groupon acquired LivingSocial in late 2016, I joined the small core team to lead the Product effort to rebuild LivingSocial on Groupon’s infrastructure. We launched our MVP in June 2017, and I’ve been working on improving LivingSocial and the multi-brand platform ever since!

What do your parents think you do?

I asked my parents and they got it pretty spot on. My theater friends always give me blank stares when I tell them I’m a PM. So I just tell them I’m like the director and the developers are like the actors – they’re real stars. I just put myself in the mind of the audience (the customer) and point the engineers in the right direction. Then my metaphor breaks down and they nod and change the subject.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

We’re scrappy. A lot of people forget that Groupon’s origin was as a hack on top of The Point, which was like a proto-Kickstarter. The very first Groupon was a deal for 2 pizzas for the price of 1 at the bar downstairs at our office, but people could only get it if enough people “pledged” to buy it. That sense of “let’s try this and see if it works” and then iterating on that is part of our DNA.

The local commerce or online-to-offline (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) is really tricky. What works for one kind of business doesn’t work for others. Everyone in Product and Engineering is game to try new things, then take the feedback from customers and merchants and learn from it. I think that’s one of the main reasons Groupon has stuck around while others haven’t. Even large companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook have tried to get into this space and haven’t been able to crack it.

And more specific to you, what’s unique about Product Management at Groupon?

The collaboration. A lot of people think of PMs as “mini-CEOs” and some companies have PM cultures that are cut-throat and every-PM-for-her/himself. At Groupon we’re constantly sharing thoughts, partnering with each other on projects, and bouncing ideas off each other. Not all PMs come from a product background. Some do, but many come from Customer Service, Sales, Account Management. There’s a variety of experiences and backgrounds that we collectively draw from and a lot of cross-pollination.

What’s your favorite programming language?

Ruby on Rails. Because it sounds like the name of a small town in northern England.

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

That would be the project to rebuild LivingSocial on the Groupon platform, what we referred to internally as “Project Gemini.” Looking back, it was a truly massive undertaking. We were modifying everything, from backend to frontend, how customer service took incoming calls to how we processed payments. It touched five different departments, impacted more 300 different individuals directly, had more than 60 different workstreams. The core team that I was a part of had to not only keep track of all this action but see how the decisions we made in one place would affect things somewhere else and make the right call. It was super challenging and when we ultimately finished our MVP and cutover from old to new LivingSocial and the 6 months of work that everyone did finally pay off, it was an amazing payoff. Someone even brought a “cutover cake” that we ate at 3 am with some champagne. And that was just the MVP – getting us to the starting line!

Tell us about what your job entails and what you love about what you do.

I’m the Product Manager for LivingSocial, so I focus on the modifying and adapting the Groupon platform for the LivingSocial brand. I work closely with our Engineering, Operations, and Marketing teams to make sure the customer experience is as great as it can be.

My favorite part of the role is simply the breadth that I get to be responsible for. Most teams have a specific area they focus on (the deal page, redemption, or a single vertical like Goods or Things To Do). With LivingSocial, the team gets our hands in every part of the site. This means we often have to work together with other teams to come up with solutions. Every day I get to solve a huge variety of interesting problems, so it’s never boring. LivingSocial is the first time Groupon has tried to run a second brand on the platform, we get to tackle all sorts of new problems that the company has never had to solve before. On top of it all, I’m getting a big picture sense of how the whole system works, I get to see all the connections, which is super cool.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I can balance three chairs on my chin.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I do the occasional on-camera acting gig. My wife is an actor and I’ve still got friends in the Chicago theater scene, so I get to see a lot of really interesting theater. Chicago’s also a great biking city so I try to bike to work as much as I can (it also helps feed my podcast obsession). I love to bake (my favorite is sourdough bread) and we keep chickens in our backyard so we get fresh eggs (no, we won’t eat them and yes, they’re fine with the Chicago winters). Fresh eggs and toast definitely make breakfast my favorite meal of the day.

What’s your favorite local business?

Antica Pizzeria in Andersonville. Amazing Sicilian pizza (thin crust, not “Chicago style”) fresh out of a brick oven. The best crust in the city. My favorite one is arugula, pistachio, and speck (kind of like prosciutto) and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s delicious!

What is your favorite part of your team’s software development process?

Our retros. We really dive into the task of constantly optimizing our process. Talking about what worked and what didn’t. Why issues happened and what we can do to avoid them in the future. We try to keep a sense of psychological safety so we can be honest with each other.

Show us your favorite view from the Chicago office!

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

With two brands in the portfolio now, my job is to think about what LivingSocial customers are looking for when they visit the site and help them find it. Groupon and LivingSocial were competitors for most their existence but now they can work together to help customers explore the amazing things to do and see in their neighborhoods.

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs all day long.

Vim or emacs? Why?

Meet Kamil – Customer Service impresario and budding film director

Meet Kamil – Customer Service impresario and budding film director

Kamil Zabiegała

Customer Service Representative
Katowice
Joined: 2017

Kamil joined our Customer Service team in Katowice in 2017 and has been soaking up the Groupon culture ever since. We never knew he was such a movie buff either!

You were one of the first Customer Service agents to join our Katowice team, so how has your time been so far?
It’s amazing, I have to say I love the people, I love the challenges, love the mood and the way we work. Not mentioning the office space. It definitely is not boring, there is always someone around the corner to talk with, it’s electrifying.

Tell us something about yourself we don’t yet know!
I’m just a guy like any other – head full of ideas and creativity. I love the cinema – the director Christopher Nolan in particular – and my dream is to be a movie director someday too. Beside that, my hobbies are computer graphics, photography and creative writing.

So what made you decide to apply for a job at Groupon?
Corn flakes and fresh fruit for breakfast of course. But seriously – working in a big company is a really engaging experience, chatting and talking to people is a cool thing, and when I saw some photos of Groupon offices on the web, it amazed me how great it must be to work with so many people. Oh, and I love Katowice 😀

I love the people and the atmosphere in the office: even if we’re working on something serious, we’re always able to smile.

Is there anything that surprised you about Groupon?
Certainly the positive mood and generally high energy levels of people around here.

So what do you do here?
Help people! It sounds simple but it’s often more complicated. We use chat and email to respond to our customer’s queries whenever they have problems enjoying their purchase on Groupon website.

What do you like the most about @Groupon so far?
People and the fun we have in the office, even if we are working on something serious, we can do it in a cool way! I’m totally buying it!

Do you have any advice for people thinking about joining Groupon?
If you like making friends and facing challenges, don’t wait until tomorrow, just apply!

Ratheesh Rajan – Training Team Lead in Chennai

Ratheesh Rajan – Training Team Lead in Chennai

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.

 

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What’s it like to work in Groupon Katowice?

What’s it like to work in Groupon Katowice?

MARTYNA SOCHACKA

Customer Service Representative
Katowice, Poland
Joined: 2017

Getting started on the #GrouponLife series, we are happy to introduce you to the stories of Groupon’s employees in our Polish offices in Katowice and Warsaw. Check out for more interviews soon!

You are one of the very first employees who started within the Katowice bunch. How has your time at Groupon been so far?
Working at Groupon brings both challenges and excitement. But even though sometimes it’s a little bit hard, I can say that I enjoy working here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I graduated from two universities – University of Economics in Katowice and WSF in Wrocław. I have master degree in English and bachelor degree in international business. I’m outgoing, friendly and ambitious person who loves challenges. During my free time I love watching TV series and reading books about self-development and psychology. I am kind of a nerd because I like learning new stuff.

And what made you decide to apply for a job @Groupon?
I decided to apply to Groupon because I was already a customer and I knew the company from deals that I bought. I was looking for a job where I will have opportunities to use English and meet new people from around the world. So when I saw the offer from Groupon I wasn’t thinking too much.

Is there anything that surprised you @Groupon?
The atmosphere, approach to people. Everyone is friendly and helpful. It is my first full time job and after hearing from my friends how it looks like I was ready to work under really high pressure with boss always watching and waiting for mistakes. Groupon is completely different and that is why it is a special work place.

What is your job about?
I am a customer service representative. I deal with daily issues our customers have, trying to help them figure out what to do when something is not as good as it is supposed to be.

What is the funniest conversation you’ve had with a customer so far?
Every customer is different. I had one that was ending each sentence with “lol”. The other one was ending each sentence with name. But I haven’t yet had a customer that literally made my day. I am still waiting.

“Be prepared for hard work, but also remember that there is time to chill out. Don’t be scared, new challenges are good.”

It’s almost 100 people in the Katowice office now. What do you think about how Groupon is going to affect the local job market?
We have a lot to offer. So many new job offers, perfect location and opportunity to have part-time job, I encourage my friends to join the company. A lot of people after graduation, like myself, are looking for a job where they can actually do something. The market is really hard to deal with especially when you don’t have much experience. Groupon helps those who are looking for their first job (but not only those!).

Tell us, Martyna, what is your superpower?
Sometimes, I speak 3 languages at the same time. I speak Polish (of course), English and Korean and I have tendency to mix them up randomly.

What do you like the most about working @Groupon so far?
Atmosphere, mornings with cornflakes and milk, and limitless access to coffee.

Do you have any advice for people thinking about joining Groupon?
My advice is be prepared for hard work, but also remember that there is time to chill out. Don’t be scared, new challenges are good.

Any holiday plans?
So far I don’t have plans. I am sure I will go to Energylandia with friends (hope that Groupon will have it on the platform :P) and then maybe spontaneous trip somewhere.

Meet Piotrek! He loves martial arts, gaming and his PC. He’s also a nice guy and a great CS agent!

Meet Piotrek! He loves martial arts, gaming and his PC. He’s also a nice guy and a great CS agent!

PIOTREK KOSTIUK

Customer Service
Katowice, Poland
Joined: 2017

Groupon’s impact in Katowice will be huge – in a positive way! The bar is set high alright but it is a genuinely great place to work.

You were one of the very first people to start working in our Katowice office. How has your time at Groupon been so far?
It has been great so far! I didn’t really know what to expect but the office is huge, very comfortable and everybody is nice to each other. I knew that this was going to be fun but not like this!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am a gamer and I love martial arts too! I’ve been training for 7 years now and regularly volunteer at tournaments. I think everybody should volunteer at something as you get a unique perspective that not everyone else is able to see. I’m a firm believer in helping other people because doing so comes back to us – like good Karma. In my free time I like to relax, play my PC or go to the gym.

And what made you decide to apply for a job @Groupon?
My girlfriend 😀 She saw this advertisement in the newspaper and showed it to me. The timing was great as I was already thinking about changing job and then BANG! – I see Groupon is opening up in Katowice, so I knew it was meant to be.

Is there anything that surprised you @Groupon?
There are a couple of things but the stand-out one is the team spirit here: everyone is happy to collaborate and work with each other. Folks feel free to be themselves here, so it makes for a great working environment.

“You kind of enjoy work here and you can relax too while still getting the job done.”

With close to 100 people in the Katowice office now, how do you think Groupon is going to affect the local job market?
Groupon’s impact in Katowice will be huge – in a positive way! So many people here are looking for a job, but your choices are limited when you are studying at the same time. I am not a student but many of my friends are and in Groupon they see a fresh new opportunity for them to work in an international organisation, rather than working in a shop or a restaurant.

Do you have any advice for people thinking about joining Groupon?

Provided the person is committed and prepared to work hard, then Groupon is a no-brainer. The bar is set high alright, but Groupon is a genuinely great place to work. You kind of enjoy work here and you can relax too while still getting the job done. So if someone likes the sound of that then they should send in their CV and see for themselves what I mean. They take work seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously 🙂

Any holiday plans?
No idea! We will see soon – maybe I’ll buy a Groupon deal… LOL!

Katowice