Dagmara Owczarska – SSC Director, Global Operations in Warsaw

Dagmara Owczarska – SSC Director, Global Operations in Warsaw

DAGMARA OWCZARSKA

SSC Director, India & Poland, Global Operations
Warsaw, Poland
Joined: 2012

Building shared service centers from scratch with Dagmara—a Groupon veteran who has worked in multiple roles during her 5+ years with the company.

What was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?

In 2012, when I joined, Groupon was—just like it is today—an amazing, fun, and extraordinary place to work. My first role at Groupon back in 2012 was Head of Operations for Polish business, with the responsibility of Inside Sales added to the scope several months after I joined. When the opportunity of pushing myself towards global operations occurred in 2014, I didn’t need to think twice and even though it wasn’t clear how my role would evolve in future, I jumped into it and started building the shared service center in Warsaw, initially for customer services only. In 2016, all operations came under one roof of Global Operations (Customer Service and Deal Factory), which was a turning point not only for me but for the entire organization. In 2017, we opened a second location in Poland (Katowice), and very recently I was granted an amazing opportunity to manage all in-house operations in Poland and India. This journey has just started and I am more than excited about it!

That’s an awesome journey! What do you attribute to your success here?

I attribute my success to 3 factors, whether at Groupon or anywhere else: an amazing team of super-smart people, hard work, and a can-do attitude.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Stay transparent.

And what advice would you give someone looking to move up in their career?

Work with smart people and learn from them. Work hard. Always treat feedback as a gift. And then work even harder.

How does Groupon fit into your life?

Perfectly!

What does your job look like day to day?

Right now, I’m formulating while already executing (this is Groupon after all, no time to waste!) a strategy to align all Shared Services operations in maximizing their contribution to customer growth, increasing customer lifetime value, growing profitability and last but not least, making Groupon a great(er!) place to work. This requires a lot of coordination between four locations but I’m super excited about how much we can do together to support our company goals!

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

In Shared Services, we’re in touch with hundreds of merchants and thousands of customers every day. By focusing on four pillars: People, Customer Experience, Merchant Success and Streamline & Simplify, we contribute to Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit.

How many times have you been promoted?

I think 4.

What are you most proud of in your time at Groupon?

Building the Warsaw and Katowice hubs from scratch. Warsaw and Katowice host two large Shared Service Centers that support business around the globe (customer service, merchant services, editorial, in six languages). We started with a small team of German-speaking CS reps in 2014 and build out the office in Warsaw followed by Katowice, which opened last year. Everything was literally built from scratch and it wouldn’t have been possible without the great team I have both in WAW and KAT, who every day live the “no compromise on quality” rule.

What’s challenging about the work you do?

Complexity, but that’s why I love it.  🙂

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I love sweet cream 😉

Who is the most inspiring woman at Groupon?

We all are!

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Karolina Ruszczyńska, Head of Revenue & Operations in Warsaw

Karolina Ruszczyńska, Head of Revenue & Operations in Warsaw

KAROLINA RUSZCZYNSKA

Head of Revenue and Sales Operations
Warsaw, Poland
Joined: 2011

We love how Karolina references space in her story, especially her term for women who are strong and hardworking.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

The very beginning of my adventure with Groupon. At that time things were happening kind of fast. The very next day, after I’ve got the job, I was on the plane going to Berlin. I spent the next few days in the DE Groupon office, learning how to be a City Planner. It was a great time.

How many times have you been promoted?

Twice: both times by my then-managers.

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

My father always told me to stay one step ahead of everybody. It isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it works for me.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

That it is my place on earth. I loved the team of bright and ambitious people as well as the fast pace and startup vibe.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while working at Groupon?

The creation of the brand new role of the City Planning team and transitioning from planning cities to categories. This provides good value, as City Planners are more into category details and can be a great support for sales representatives.

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired mainly by women who work insanely hard and constantly prove their courage, talent, and strong character. I call them #kobietyrakiety, which literally means women who are as powerful as space rockets.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I know how to sew and how to create shoes 🙂

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?

Sue Snabb – Sales Efficiency Manager in Sydney

Sue Snabb – Sales Efficiency Manager in Sydney

SUE SNABB

Sales Efficiency Manager
Sydney, Australia
Joined: 2010

Favorite conference room?

Favorite office view?

(OK, it’s not a real “view” but still! Can’t beat a fake Bondi Beach!)

An American Groupie in Sydney: Sue’s story of taking her legacy sales knowledge from one continent to the other in order to build the sales teams in ANZ.

Tell us about what your job entails and what you love about it!

I currently run sales training in the ANZ market. I’ve had many roles in my Groupon lifetime and when I moved to Sydney in March of 2016, I started out in a project management role and eventually moved to my current training role which focuses on new hires and continuing education for current employees. I love working with people and sharing best practices and knowledge. Seeing that light bulb go off when coaching someone or getting that G-chat saying they tried something new and it worked is so fulfilling.

But can you write a Groupon haiku? 

Build communities —

New customers for merchants —

A dream comes alive

There are so many awesome Groupon stories. What are you most proud of?

My career at Groupon. I started from the bottom now I’m here. Ha! But really, I started in Sales way back in 2010 and now I get to have the autonomy to build a sales training program for the ANZ business. My knowledge of sales, account management, sales training, and travel have all helped me build the best training for the sales teams!

Sales roles exist everywhere. So why Groupon? What’s unique about it?

I truly believe in what we stand for. Helping local businesses get the new customers they need to grow and continue to tick. I like walking down the street and seeing small businesses; it’s what makes our communities diverse and fun.

Who or what inspires you?

People who are super passionate about Groupon inspire me. They get me to push and try harder when things aren’t working right. Knowing that we have a product that works that is backed up by employees who believe in it so both keep me going. Also, hearing positive feedback on how we’ve helped our merchants helps to reinforce all of the hard work we do!

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

The most challenging thing I’ve worked on would be project managing the structural change in our Local and Travel departments. The US had gone through the transition a few years prior but actually owning the to-do list and keeping people on track was a new challenge for me. I also think building programs from scratch has been challenging as well. Digging into coaching for our sales teams, improving continuing education classes, and ultimately making a well-rounded sales program (still not complete!) has been super rewarding and tough.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

I thought they were quirky and fun. I wanted something different and got it. When I came to the Sydney office I thought the culture was awesome: open and friendly with a work hard-play hard vibe.

And how did you end up moving from Chicago to Sydney anyway?

I got the opportunity to work on the Hunter/Farmer structural change for ANZ. Having gone through it with my Getaways department and seeing it happen in Local set me up for good insight into the project. Having a ton of training experience also helped as I would also be spending time helping out the team in that capacity as well. My partner and I moved over to Australia and voila, here we are!

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

I get to work with all sales reps to help them close the businesses that will bring the customers to build the daily habit.

Have you won any awards during your time here?

EVP MVP Award 2015. This award goes to a Groupon employee who has demonstrated outstanding leadership of their Employee Volunteer Program chapter. I’m also a two-time WOW Award recipient for 2016 and 2017. This award is nominated and endorsed by management and recognises an outstanding performer from the Operations side of the business.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

At the first Halloween Party I attended we had a huge mosh pit of people dancing and we were learning other cultures’ dances. We are very diverse at this office which makes it easy (and cool!) to learn about people’s backgrounds. It was just so much fun! I also loved Bring Your Dog to Work Day. I don’t have a dog but it reinforced why I do and don’t want one!

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I used to do magic in the hospital for sick kids. It was great to bring a smile to their faces during a time of such pain.

What do your parents think you do?

They think I teach all the Groupies.

What’s your favorite local business?

I have a few! For food, I love Banana Blossom (I’m obsessed and get it every time I’m in Bondi or Manly). For sport, I like Bondifit for my triathlon training and Eastside Riding Academy in Centennial Park.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I’m currently training for a triathlon. Learning how to cycle with cleats is tough, I’m bruised everywhere! I also enjoy horseback riding, golf, and attempting to surf. I love playing games: cards, Settlers of Catan, and spikeball. I am also an old woman at heart and enjoy crocheting; I’ve made baby booties for my friends’ kids in our school colors and pair that with a nice wine bottle with a Michigan-colored wine koozie. I also love hanging with friends and traveling; I miss my family like crazy but I love exploring this side of the world.

Leyla – Project Manager, Talent Acquisition Operations

Leyla – Project Manager, Talent Acquisition Operations

LEYLA BOSS

Project Manager, Talent Acquisition Operations
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2013

There’s a lot we could say about Leyla’s accomplishments in Recruiting and Project Management, but mainly we’re just here for her last name. 😍

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

The day before Halloween this year! I was heading into the office on an extra sleepy Monday morning. I rode up to Groupon’s floor, the elevator door opened, and we were greeted by witches and zombies hissing in our faces and following us around the floor. I was terrified to say the least, but it sure did wake me up! I wish I could’ve taken a picture, but I was too scared to go back.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

From the very start, I knew I was going to be working with some of the smartest people in my career, and that they’d drive me out of my comfort zone. And they proved me right. I’ve had the opportunity to work on teams and projects way above my experience level which have allowed me to stretch my skill set almost immediately.

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

I’m helping to build global efficiencies and best practices for our amazing Recruiting team. With Groupon constantly growing and shifting priorities, it’s been a welcome challenge to find ways we can work smarter as a team.

What’s your biggest Groupon accomplishment?

Hiring is one thing, but building an office from scratch is a whole different story. I’m proud to say that I managed our North American Sales Recruiting team when we opened up our Phoenix, Arizona office in 2015. It was truly a collaborative effort with nearly every department at Groupon involved focusing on everything from finding the perfect workspace (ASU’s Skysong) to finding the perfect team to kickstart the location. While most of my time was spent mapping out our hiring timelines and training new managers, at one point I was crawling under desks hooking up the internet. No task was too big or too small for this effort, and it was awesome to see everything come together in order to build such a great team.

“From the very start, I knew I was going to be working with some of the smartest people in my career, and that they’d drive me out of my comfort zone. And they proved me right.”

Have you won any awards here?

Yes. “Most likely to hit ‘reply all’ on an all-company email.”

There’s always one in the bunch, isn’t there.

What keeps you excited to come to work every day?

There’s an opportunity to make a real difference and see your results every day. When I was a Recruiter and a Recruiting Manager, I was watching people I hired grow at Groupon and get recognized for their impactful work. Now, I’m able to influence the team I was once a part of, and try to impact and improve their day-to-day experiences.

What do your parents think you do?

That’s actually super unclear. They’re frequently asking “do you work tomorrow?” or “are you working today?” like they’re not sure if this is a regular thing or not. Yep, mom, still working!

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

Professional puppy cuddler. I assume this exists.

Milan McGraw – Senior Manager of Operations

Milan McGraw – Senior Manager of Operations

MILAN MCGRAW

Senior Manager of Operations
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2015

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

Who or what inspires you?

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

What’d you do before you joined Groupon?

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

What was your first impression of Groupon?

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

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

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

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

What’s your biggest Groupon accomplishment?

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

Have you won any awards recently?

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

What do your parents think you do?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favorite local business?

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

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

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

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

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

Stephen – Project Manager, Recruiting Operations

Stephen – Project Manager, Recruiting Operations

STEPHEN GARVEY

Project Manager, Recruiting Operations
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2011 & 2014

Stephen is one of Groupon’s “boomerang employees” who left and returned shortly thereafter due to missing the people and culture. However, he could’ve come back more quickly if he had been on that hoverboard…

Who inspires you?

My wife is an ICU nurse, so she literally deals with life and death situations every day. It amazes me that she’s able to continuously head in and deal with that. It’s really helpful to have that reminder that while our jobs at Groupon are challenging and can be stressful, it’s not life and death. We’re just trying to help make life fun for our customers.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

I thought that the office was really big. At the end of my first day, I got a little lost and ended up taking a staircase that let me out in the custodial area. I had to walk around in there for a while before I found someone who could let me out.

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

My role is to work on systems and processes that are used by our recruiting team. I’m helping make their jobs easier so they can go out and find the best talent to add to Groupon.

So why did you leave Groupon then come back?

I received an offer from another large company that seemed like a logical next step in my career, and I felt that it was too good to pass up. However, I was definitely reluctant to leave Groupon. I ended up staying in the office until 7 pm on my last day because it was so hard to say goodbye. In the end, the things that I missed the most about Groupon were the people and the energy of the office. There’s definitely a sense of team and community that just doesn’t exist everywhere. I was back within three months of leaving.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Groupon, Love Local – –
Just making life less boring – –
A great place to work!

What’s your proudest accomplishment while working at Groupon?

I recently worked on a project that was tasked with onboarding our entire global recruiting function onto one unified Applicant Tracking System. It was a completely new challenge for me and I learned a lot. It has been really exciting to see some of the wins that have come from that project.

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

I would love to spend a day as the New York Mets mascot, Mr. Met. Everyone loves him, and it seems like he has a wonderful giant baseball-headed family. It’s a real fairy tale.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

My first job out of college was as a production assistant on the set of a very classy reality show called “I Want to be a Hilton,” starring Paris’ mom, Kathy.

Nominate a teammate (or two) for a superlative!

Groupon World Headquarters