Karishma Patel Buford – VP of Global Talent Management

Karishma Patel Buford – VP of Global Talent Management

KARISHMA PATEL BUFORD

VP of Global Talent Management
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2016

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

Tell us about your leadership style. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

How has working at Groupon impacted you?

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

Who are your biggest influences?

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

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

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

What’s the last book you read?  

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

Describe a unique breakthrough moment in your time at Groupon.

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

Describe your job in 10 words or less.

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

Inspired by Karishma's story?

 

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

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

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

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

What’s your favorite local business?

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

What’s the last Groupon you used?

Team dinner at Sapori Trattoria in Chicago.

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

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

Katie Knox – HR Operations Representative

Katie Knox – HR Operations Representative

KATIE KNOX

HR Operations Representative
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2011

Balancing parenthood and work is an epic challenge, but it helps to feel support everywhere you turn at work. Parents@Groupon co-chair Katie talks about her experience as a working mom at the ‘pon.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory? Or what’s the most “Groupon” thing you’ve experienced at your office?

Having cake and champagne at 8 a.m. on the morning of Groupon’s IPO in 2011. It was an amazing morning and I will never forget it. Another standout memory is when I was returning to work from maternity leave. I attended a recruiting team party called “Christmas in March” which was our team holiday party. I had been gone for almost three months and walked into the party with so many hugs and congratulations! It’s a pretty great feeling to return to such a caring team like that.

The most random thing I’ve witnessed at Groupon has to be when I was in the sales department, and our SVP of Sales came in decked out in a green suit (and top hat) while riding around on an electric cooler. He was tossing out ice cream sandwiches to everyone. So random, but I really appreciated the sugar fix!

You’re the co-chair of Parents@Groupon. Why did you join? What do you like about it?

I originally joined the Parents@Groupon ERG to meet more parents and get more involved. Plus, I loved being able to bring my son to Bring Your Kid To Work Day and our Groupon Trick-or-treating events. Now, I get to help plan those events as a Co-chair of the board!

So what does being co-chair of Parents@Groupon entail exactly?

My role as co-chair entails setting the strategy for the year on what events we do, how much money we budget, and finding new ways to support and celebrate parents at Groupon! We are really excited for our next Bring Your Kid to Work Day, which we host every year near the end of summer where all kids are able to come into the office and experience life at Groupon!

How does Groupon support parents?

Groupon supports parents by providing wonderful benefits such as maternity/paternity leave, mother’s rooms, and by having such a thing as an employee resource group that is dedicated to parents.

How does Groupon support you as a mother?

Groupon has supported me throughout my entire time as a parent. From the time I learned I was pregnant to now (my child is now three years old), my managers have been supportive, flexible, empathetic, and really have seemed to care about me and my family. The mother’s rooms are also amazing and I’ve loved being able to bring my son into work for our Parents@Groupon events.

Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it? What does a typical day look like?

I now work in HR Operations and address all kinds of requests from our employees across the globe. I also look at our processes and communication and try to make improvements.

Who or what inspires you?

I know that scheduling life and workload is a constant juggling act, I am inspired when I see a fellow parent doing the same thing.  And I want to tell all of them that they are doing a stellar job at work and home.

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

We all know that people are the most important part of any business. I make sure our behind-the-scenes processes are running smoothly to ensure employees can focus on their jobs.

Have you won any awards in your time at Groupon?

Lots of them… though the names might sound unfamiliar to most.

“Manager Thinks You’re Awesome Award” for continuously exceeding my goals.

“Knighted by the King” award for having the best phone tone on my team.

While in Recruiting, I was given the superlative, “Most Crafty and First Soccer Mom

Where were you before you joined Groupon? How did you get here?

I was in Columbia, Missouri where I worked in social work when my husband casually mentioned that there was a job at Groupon that he was interested in. Fast forward to 2011, we had moved to Chicago and he got a job in the Editorial department. I soon followed by joining the Customer Service team. I’ve now worked in Customer Service, Sales, Recruiting, and HR Operations.

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work? 

I like to hang out with my little dude, my dog, and my husband. I’m a fan of coffee, cooking (sometimes), chocolate, and Target.

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

I always secretly wanted to be a playground designer! I like to think I’m crafty and creative, so I would dream up designs when I was little.

What’s your favorite local business?

Katherine Anne Confections – they have the best hot chocolate in the city, are incredibly friendly, and the owner has kiddos as well!

John Kasang – HR Business Partner

John Kasang – HR Business Partner

JOHN KASANG

HR Business Partner
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2011

John has lost count of the number of roles he’s had here. He’s a shining example of career mobility at Groupon, starting off as a temp in Editorial and making his way into HR by way of Recruiting. What’s next? Maybe blueberry farmer.

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

I coached swimming at my local pool and one of the parents whose children I coached worked for a temp agency that had a position at Groupon. Diving for pennies was pretty fun, but I thought I’d give an office job a try!

What positions have you worked here?

I was hired as a temp to be a Merchant Center Creator and my full-time offer in March 2012 was for Quality Assurance in the Editorial department. From there I moved into an Associate Site Editor role and then I moved into HR.

Can you explain a bit about what each job entailed?

  • As a Merchant Center Creator (MCC) I opened up a central repository for merchants that would host their data from their deals. In Quality Assurance, we checked the facts! I was part detective, part internet troll, and part mathematician as we wanted everything on the deal to be correct. Finally, as an Associate Site Editor, we made edits to deals that were live on the site.
  • Jumping into HR, I started off as a Recruiting Coordinator. I scheduled interviews, gave tours, booked travel, created offer letters, and partnered with a recruiter as their right-hand man. I eventually was promoted to Recruiter, Recruiter II, and then a Senior Recruiter leading our Customer Service, Risk Management, and Consumer Fraud talent acquisition. It was fascinating, fast-paced, and I was able to not only able to hire in Chicago but throughout the country.
  • Now I am the HR Business Partner for our Finance, Communications, and Legal Department. As an HRBP I am here to formulate partnerships across HR functions to drive initiatives and help with things like Benefits, Compensation, and Talent and Development. I am here to support & champion our employees!

Why did you want to jump from Editorial to HR and how did you go about doing that?

I toyed with the idea of working in the non-profit sector before coming to Groupon. I enjoy the complexities of people; we all have big goals, some problems, and challenges in our life and HR seemed to be the place to marry that in the public sector.

How did each job prepare you for the next one?

I had some incredible managers who fed my hunger to grow and let me fail forward.

How many jobs have you had?

Gosh, I don’t know…about six or seven. I lost count.

How have you navigated your career moves at Groupon?

I live by the motto, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” Relationships are a huge part of building your career. Taking the extra step to recognize efforts and intentions along with life events goes a long way in creating open communication and opportunity.

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

Our business exists in a diverse world, and our employees mirror that! We want to build a diverse and inclusive workplace and give that population the means to grow and become better suited to serve that community.

Have you won any awards?

Does Best Beard count?!

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

Working with a global team always keeps me on my toes because employment laws and regulations vary country to country, state to state, even sometimes city to city. It’s important to be detail-focused so nothing slips through the cracks.

Can you talk about what your global work entails? What teams and/or teammates do you work with and where are they located?

Finance, Legal, and Comms have folks all over the world: Chennai, Bangalore, Warsaw, Milan, Dublin, London, and more. I partner with the business and local HR support on a variety of topics.

Are you a member of an Employee Resource Group?

I’m the Professional Development Chair for Groupon for Latinos.

Can you talk about what it means to be the Professional Development Chair for Groupon for Latinos? Why are you involved? Why is it important to Groupon?

There are so many intersections of diversity and inclusion and part of that is understanding that they exist and how to embrace and celebrate them. Personal and professional development stretch our horizons and drive us to be life learners. With that, I want to bring more to our Groupon for Latinos community along with other amazing ERGs. We are better, more imaginative, and inventive with more knowledge in our back pockets!

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work? What are your hobbies?

I’m an avid kombucha brewer, plant whisperer, competitive walker, non-competitive rollerblader, and lover of all vegetables.

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

I kind of want to be a blueberry farmer, though I’m not really sure why…

What’s your favorite local business?

Adams and Sons, best plant store in town!

 

 

Meet Rachel, HRBP in Dublin

Meet Rachel, HRBP in Dublin

RACHEL KEPPEL

HR Business Partner
Dublin
Joined: 2017

Resilience, pragmatism, resolve and an ability to work well with cats. Rachel talks about some of the surprising secrets to success at Groupon.

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Tell us about your Groupon story so far.

I have been in Groupon 10 months now and work as HR Business Partner in the Dublin office primarily supporting the Tech, Marketing and Coupons teams in EMEA.  Most of my teams are located in Dublin however I am also responsible for some of our teams in Poland, Netherlands, Berlin, Italy, France, and London.   

 

What’s the secret to succeeding at Groupon? 

In my opinion the key to success in Groupon is resilience, pragmatism and resolve.  Groupon moves fast so it is important that you can keep up with the pace while driving your agenda. On the flip side you need to have a focus on making things fun.  We believe in making our lives less boring which means we all have a responsibility to build a great place to work. You need to have a sense of humor, and a commitment to excitement.              

 

What is Groupon like for women? Does it feel like a diverse, inclusive space to work?

I truly feel that Groupon is a great place to work for women.  Achieving a high number of women in leadership positions is a challenge that many firms face.  However within the Groupon office in Dublin, and indeed the wider business, we are very fortunate to have a strong female leadership team.  These inspirational leaders not only pave the way for our female employees but also instil a culture of inclusion within the entire office. We celebrate difference and know that having a diverse workforce changes the way we work and leads to greater success. As an employer Groupon has a lot to offer women.  

“We celebrate difference and know that having a diverse workforce changes the way we work and leads to greater success.”

How significant is it that we are launching Women@Groupon?

This group will not only offer a fantastic resource to empower our staff but also provide an avenue to encourage more women to consider a career in Tech, specifically at Groupon. By making employee stories and profiles such as mine available to external audiences, people can get an authentic sense of what Groupon has to offer as an employer.  We have also committed to making connections with local schools and show kids what a future in Tech has to offer.

These initiatives are owned by our employees and we all see the significance and are energised to make a difference.  We want to add value not only to the Groupon community but the community as a whole.

 

What excites you about your work? What’s on the horizon that keeps you engaged and interested?

I am excited to learn more about the business, ensure that our people strategy supports our success and ultimately continue to make Groupon a great and fun place to work.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in the office?

This one is more unique than strange … Within my first week of Groupon it was discovered that a cat had given birth in one of our meeting rooms.  Our lovely office Manager Kathleen stepped up and hand-reared the cats for several weeks. When they were ready to be adopted they were given a loving home with one of our Managers, Seamus!   

 

What does your mother think you do?

My mother thinks I interview people all day even though I haven’t worked in recruitment for at 5 years.     

 

Katarzyna Tomczyk, Senior HR Manager in Warsaw

Katarzyna Tomczyk, Senior HR Manager in Warsaw

KATARZYNA TOMCZYK

Senior HR Manager
Warsaw, Poland
Joined: 4/1/2016 (on her birthday!)

Katarzyna talks about building great teams in Poland and recognizes some of the strong female leaders at Groupon. And if you see her on April Fool’s, be sure to wish her happy birthday *and* a happy Groupon anniversary!

Who is the most inspiring woman at Groupon?

Anita Samojednik, Senior VP Global Operations—who is always a few steps ahead of everyone else—is an extremely driven and energetic business leader.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

To be true to yourself and build on your strengths. I am convinced that once you discover what you are good at, you should always push yourself to excel in it and not necessarily concentrate on other things so much. It is so much easier to do when you know what your long-term career goal is.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

In 2017 we had a visit of entire European Leadership Team (Julie Szudarek, President of International, and her direct reports) who spent half a day shadowing our Customer and Merchant Service Agents and Team Leaders and couldn’t get over what excellent teams we have here in Poland!

What are your favorite local businesses?

Restaurants, of course, but also escape rooms. My kids love them and we already ticked them all of the list. Can’t wait for new escape room deals on Groupon!

What’s your proudest Groupon accomplishment?

I am the proudest of the Employee Satisfaction Survey results that we just got a few weeks back: 72% of our people like working here. The results are actually 5,5% better than last year when we already thought we hit our record. For me and my team, it means that our everyday job makes perfect sense and it keeps us motivated to continuously support our great teams.

How many times have you been promoted during your time here?

Just once so far. 🙂 I haven’t even got my Green Groupon track jacket yet, so I still have some time for more!

What was your first impression of Groupon?

That it feels like home. My first days at Groupon were a good sample of how our life here looks like: everything happened really fast, people were great and helpful and so I managed to shorten my on-boarding from one month to one week. Talk about efficiency!

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I am a hardcore Bob Dylan fan. I’ve seen him in concert more than 12 times and still hope for his Never Ending Tour to come through my part of Europe again.