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.