What’s the key to real progress for women in Tech? Anu explains.

By
at May 24th, 2017

Groupon’s Anu Gali, Director of Engineering & Silicon Valley Biz Journal “Women of Influence” honoree, says getting women interested in the Tech sector is only half the battle.

IMG_0752 (1)I was recently honored at the the 2017 “Women of Influence” award ceremony organized by The Silicon Valley Business Journal. Each year the magazine recognizes local business women, community leaders, and philanthropists who have made a difference in their workplace and in the broader Silicon Valley Community. I was one of the honorees this year for a combination of Engineering leadership, entrepreneurship, and volunteer work for various STEM and Women’s Leadership Incubator programs. I am passionate about bringing more women into engineering. I started off working with middle and high school girls through organizations like Girls Who Code and Technovation Challenge.

While these were satisfying, I also realized that the women who get into technology often find it hard to grow into leadership positions without the benefit of good mentorship. I felt that enabling these women to succeed would have a multiplier effect in having them help other women while also acting as role models for girls who want to get into the field. So, I started mentoring career women through organizations such as Grace Hopper and TheClubSV which is an Incubator of Women Leaders. I believe these help me make a bigger impact in the amount of time I have.

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The culture at Groupon—based on individual merit and equal opportunity to contribute and grow—is unique in the industry and I feel highly valued here. I cherish the strong, engineering-driven culture where I am able to take initiatives to influence the product direction while working with so many smart people. Women at Groupon as an employee resource group sponsors mentorship, talent development, and other programs geared towards career development. Groupon also sponsors Women Who Code and Grace Hopper through which the employees have access to external meetups, workshops and mentors. As a Director of Engineering, I am currently leading initiatives for voucherless redemption. This is an exciting project where we let customers buy a voucher, link it to their credit card, and enable them to utilize the voucher without any hassle. I strongly believe this will transform the user experience, enable them to use Groupon more often, and be a significant growth driver for our business.

Read more about women in Engineering at Groupon.


Commemorating UIC’s 2017 Latino Graduates

By
at May 22nd, 2017

UIC’s 31st Annual Recognition Dinner: over 600 attendees, 200 graduates, and one fiery mariachi band.

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Lauren Mullins – Campus Recruiter // Fernando Diaz – Divisional Sales Manager & Groupon en Español Chair 

Fernando: As the Chair for Groupon en Español, one of my goals is to create an inclusive work environment by making connections with Latino communities which will lead to recruiting opportunities. This event both helped solidify the partnership with UIC and start other partnerships with organizations within UIC. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the graduates. They were allotted 30 seconds each to say a few words. Many of the students thanked their families and friends who had done so much to help them achieve this milestone.

Lauren: UIC’s Hispanic/Latino undergraduate population increased to 30.7% this year, which continues their designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). The Annual Recognition Dinner recognizes and honors the accomplishments of their Latino graduates among family and friends. There were over 600 guests in attendance, 200+ of which were graduating students. While this wasn’t a direct recruiting event and there was limited interaction with students (they were focused on celebrating with friends and family), Fernando and I were able to network in person with key members of several diverse campus organizations: Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services (LARES), Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), and Career Services, forging stronger relationships than we would have with cold outreach to these groups.

The goal of the event was to strengthen our relationship with and show our support for UIC as a whole and the hispanic/latino community. Our attendance aligns with Groupon’s inclusion and diversity values! It would be great to continue to build relationships with the campus partners we met and celebrate the recent grads and Groupon new hires! The best part of the night? The amazing student speeches when they were recognized for graduating AND the UIC mariachi band: Mariachi Fuego!

felicidades uicuic latino recognition dinner mariachi band

Learn more about our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and what we’re doing to foster a more inclusive and diverse workplace!


Parents @ Groupon Celebrates 1st “Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day” in Chicago

By
at May 18th, 2017

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A typical Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day might entail kids shadowing their parents as they go about their day, maybe setting up a makeshift workspace for kids to doodle, tinker with desk decor, or play office. At Groupon, we decided to do things a little differently this year. In late April, a dozen kids over the age of nine alongside their parents had the opportunity to spend the day immersed in their area of choice, whether that was engineering, photography, recruiting, design, or even a Shark Tank-themed sales contest.

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“When planning the event, we really wanted to make sure we had a variety of departments featured and leading activities. We were excited that we had animation, engineering, and the photo studio, among a few other fun activities with great teams!” Katie Knox, Parents @ Groupon Talent Development & Recruiting Chair.

The National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation explains, “Designed to be more than a career day, the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work program goes beyond the average practice of “shadowing” an adult. Exposing girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the work day is important, but showing them the value of their education and helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future, and allowing them to begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success.”

Later this summer, Groupon will host kids of all ages for Bring Your Kids to Work Day, but first, Parents @ Groupon has both Mother’s and Father’s Day events lined up to celebrate the hardworking parents of the ‘pon.

Want to learn more about our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)? Check out these stories to find out how our employees are getting involved.


Go West! Jabril Takes his Groupon Sales Training Experience from Chicago to Phoenix

By
at May 1st, 2017

Way back in 2015, Jabril was six months into his career at Groupon working as a Business Development Associate for our Memphis market. Fast forward to 2017, he’s now at Groupon’s newest office location in Phoenix, Arizona training the newest waves of southwest Sales Reps.

Sales Trainer, Jabril, Stands in front of sign at Groupon Phoenix office

Since last checking in I’ve been promoted to Sales Trainer as part of our Sales Training and Development team. I’ve been training new Business Development Sales Reps as well as helping out with our continued education program. I was on the team in Chicago when I learned about the job opportunity to become a trainer for our Phoenix office. After understanding how they were utilizing the training program to develop reps and grow the new office, I decided I wanted to be a part of that.

The Phoenix office is slightly different from headquarters in Chicago; since it’s a much smaller office everyone is a lot closer and the culture has a family feel to it. Still, like Groupon overall, we have a very vibrant culture where everyone works hard and tries to learn from each other. Every individual has the ability to make a huge impact on the office camaraderie and I feel we all take advantage of that. I moved out here on January 1st of 2017, and just in that short window of time, I’ve seen the training program evolve quite a bit. We’ve been able to adjust the continued education program to support a wider range of more tenured sales reps, and we have made the new hire process more interactive and engaging for those who are just joining Groupon.

Interested in learning more about our Phoenix office? We have more employee and volunteer stories here!


How did these Engineering interns tackle Groupon’s giant code base?

By
at April 24th, 2017

Two interns-turned-employees share their experiences working at Groupon in both Engineering and Data Science.

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nicolas lu palo alto

What have you both been working on?

Sunil: I work with the Ranking and Personalization team in Palo Alto and we’re responsible for mining deals that are relevant to the customer. When you open the Groupon app on your phone or visit the desktop site, what you see, how you see it, and the order in which you see content is determined by the recommendation algorithms developed by this team. Every deal that shows up has to pass through a series of features, each of which does some processing, prediction, estimation, and finally assigns a score to the deal. The scores assigned by these multiple features are then combined to form a final score which determines the ordering of that deal on your homepage. Of course, there needs to be some way to make sure that the feature is actually improving user experience and is working for the benefit of the organization. And who would be a better audience to judge improvement in user experience than our users themselves? This is where the idea of live experiments fits in. All the features have to pass through an experimentation phase before they can be put into production.

Just like the deals, every user request also passes through a series of layers called “orthogonal layers.” This is the place where experiments are set up. When a user request passes through a layer, it decides what treatment the user will receive for that particular layer. It can be either the control treatment (baseline treatment which is running in production) or any of the experimentation treatment set up in the layer. The success or failure of an experiment is determined by comparing its performance with that of the control treatment. The percentage of traffic that will receive any particular treatment is adjustable. So usually an experiment starts with, say, 10% and then if results seem promising, it is ramped up to 50% and then finally to 100%. The most amazing part of the entire process, though? You get to know the approximate impact in the actual dollar amount of your individual work on the organization’s revenue. How cool is that?!

Nicholas: Pretty cool! I am also on the Ranking and Personalization team and I work on evaluating the performance of experiments and other changes to the ranking code. I own the performance testing tool which builds, deploys, simulates website traffic, and creates reports for the results. There are so many different orthogonal layers and experiments that all need to be compared, but there are simply too many to include in just one report. To make matters more complicated, each experiment has hundreds of metrics that all need to be considered to decide if an experiment is safe to add or ramp up. During my internship and my first two months as a full-time developer, I worked on building a self-service dashboard for scheduling and queueing performance test runs. Now that the dashboard is functional, I’m working on collecting runtime data with instrumentation and building infrastructure to support searching and visualizing all of the data we have available.

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What are your favorite parts about working at Groupon?

Sunil: The flexible work environment and unlimited PTO policy are the top reasons I love working here. Of course both free lunch and paid lunch hours help, too. But it’s not just about the flexibility in free time, it’s also about the flexibility in the work that you do as a part of the team. There is freedom in the kind of work that you want to do, the projects that you want to work on, and the ideas that you think should be explored. 

Nicholas: My favorite part of Groupon is the scope and influence I have on the projects I work on. Since every code change needs a performance run, I’ve had the chance to work with most of my team members to schedule custom runs and help with debugging. I love being able to support all of my team members, and my work helps all of them to be more efficient. I appreciate being able to decide what tasks are the most important to meet the needs of my team. Also, the proximity to the Caltrain station is so convenient; the station Sunil and I both get on is next to the Stevens Creek trail, so I get to bike along the trail to work every day. 

What do you think you’ll both gain as new grads?

Sunil: There is a lot to learn about how the infrastructure is set up to manage a huge service such as ours: a lot of different technologies and languages that are used within the organization (two new languages already in my first two months) and the coding guidelines which are checked to ensure clean, sustainable, and functional code…especially for somebody who just graduated and is used to all sorts of nonsensical variable naming and structuring. There is also a lot to learn about how to build upon any ideas that you might have in mind and the ability to think out the entire process of transforming an idea to a feature in code.

Nicholas: Groupon is a great place to work because it has the resources of a large company, but there are so many important projects that a new grad like me can work on. I have encountered all sorts of challenges that need to be dealt with when scaling a small project to a reliable service. Many features that seemed trivial to implement at first required me to learn about different designs and frameworks that I never needed when my project was small.

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What has your biggest challenge been so far?

Sunil: To be honest, I felt a bit intimidated when I first saw the enormity of the code base. This was during the middle of my internship when I had completed data analysis and offline model training and had to start getting my hands dirty to move the model online. I was running short on time before my internship would end because it had taken more time than planned to build a model due to some infrastructure as well as data sparsity hurdles. It took me quite some time—days, really—just to determine a starting point. After a couple of days of staring at this overwhelming code—and of course, with some help—I figured out where to start. I do think that staring at and absorbing the code inevitably helped because things started making more sense and I was able to launch an experiment with my feature just before my internship ended.

Nicholas: I was also intimated by the size of the code base when I took over the performance testing tool. I made sure to carefully test all of my changes before merging them in, and I recently decided to break the performance testing tool apart from the deployment tool. Now that the performance testing tool has become so important to us, there were many changes that needed to be made to make it reliable, customizable, and fully self-service. It was challenging to make all these large changes while keeping the service running for my team members to use; it’s hard to schedule downtime when everyone has changes they want merged! 

Most memorable experience so far?

Sunil: The time I found out that my first feature was about to be rolled into production was awesome. Right before my internship ended, I had just launched an experiment with the feature that I was developing at 20% traffic. When I joined full time, my first question to my team was, “how did it go?” And they let me know it went well. Later on, I saw the performance charts and then there was a presentation from the product team where they gave the exact million dollar effect that my feature had on revenue. That was quite memorable for me and satisfying to see the impact of my work on a large scale!

Nicholas: The holiday season is a tough time for most e-commerce companies, and the performance testing tool is very important for evaluating changes for holiday readiness. My most memorable experience was when my manager called me after Black Friday and told me that the Ranking and Personalization service was able to handle all the traffic we got as a result of my hard work. The tool allowed us to create a stable holiday readiness branch and made debugging performance issues much easier.

And finally… what drew you both to come back to Groupon as new grads?

Sunil: For me, it was really the kind of work that I had done during my internship. It was closely related to the specialization that I was pursuing in my Master’s degree. It was pretty much exactly what I wanted to do further in my career. 

Nicholas: I also enjoyed the work I did during my internship and I’m looking forward to applying some of the research I did as an undergraduate to allow for faster and more reliable performance run results. I chose to continue working at Groupon because it’s the best place for me to improve as a developer and it’s a place where I can have a large impact in my company.

Want more stories? Click here to read more about the challenges our Engineers are tackling every day.


How is Groupon helping to empower women in Tech? Two Engineers share their stories.

By
at April 18th, 2017

Coding Across Silos: What One Intern Learned at Groupon

The fastest way for any coder to grow is through mentorship, getting a guided and hands-on tour of real-life problems and solution development. Through its relationship with the Ada Developers Academy, Groupon is supporting the next generation of women engineers by teaming interns with experienced developers in a space where classroom learning is mixed with hands-on development.

Today Melissa—a former ADA intern and current Groupon Software Development Engineer—and her mentor, Karena, talk about why it’s crucial for organizations to invest in initiatives that encourage women to pursue careers in STEM.

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Karena // Senior Software Development Engineer in Test (left)
Melissa // Colombia native & Journalist-turned-Software Development Engineer (right)

How did being an ADA intern at Groupon impact you?

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 1.27.40 PM [Melissa] Being an ADA intern at Groupon was highly impactful for me, as both of these institutions cared about my success. This, in turn, helped invigorate my desire to become a stronger software developer and strengthened my commitment to help other women starting out in the tech field. It is fantastic that Groupon is committed to making the Tech industry more diverse. It has very practical improvements to the overall developer community but also makes Groupon a more attractive company to software developers who care about such issues.

Why is the partnership important to Groupon?

Karena Software Development Engineer in Test Groupon Seattle [Karena] Of course we all know about the big gender gap in the Tech world. When the Groupon Getaways leaders heard about the ADA program, they were intrigued because it was working to address this gender gap while still maintaining an extremely high bar for the candidates in the program. Groupon loves to get involved in initiatives that promote diversity, and finding such a reputable academy focused on educating women in Seattle was amazing! We’re excited about our partnership with ADA so we can help connect women with careers in Tech while bringing new, diverse perspectives to our Engineering teams here at Groupon.  

[Melissa] In my opinion, ADA connects Groupon with a highly-qualified network of developers. ADA developers have had successful careers in other industries, have committed to becoming software developers, and are highly vetted. Groupon benefits not only by adding talent to their Engineering teams but in broadening the larger skill sets and world views of its engineering community.

Why is the partnership important to you professionally? Personally?

[Melissa] I have become an advocate for women in Tech and a role model for the success that can come despite the risks of changing career paths. I am now in a position to speak with other women about what the industry is like for women. More specifically to Groupon, I can dispel many of the myths about being a woman developer at a large company and promote Groupon as the pinnacle in the field of career choices.

[Karena] As we continue to see problems with the lack of diversity in the tech field, ADA is an extremely valuable partner for Groupon. It not only promotes and advocates for women in tech, but it also brings in women from diverse backgrounds with a variety of non-technical skills that are often lacking in the one-dimensional tech world.

What did you learn as a student or mentor?

[Melissa] As a student, I obviously gained a lot of technical knowledge. However, I was also trained on many of the other skills that are necessary to become a successful team-based software developer: project planning, communicating ideas, working cross-functionally, testing and debugging, and of course proper Git usage. Before Groupon, I mistakenly assumed coding was about coding all day in front of my computer. On a more personal level, I was born in Colombia and have been living in the U.S. since 2014; this background provides interesting learning opportunities for me such as noticing cultural differences, subtle nuance in language, and even office etiquette. One benefit of working at Groupon is that the team is already globally diverse, meaning that a number of my teammates have already gone through similar cultural assimilation and are happy to help me in my process.

[Karena] One of the things I love about mentoring is that I always learn at least as much as the person I am mentoring! Something I have definitely seen firsthand from Melissa is how to view learning and growing in a positive way. She is always excited to hear other people’s opinions about her code and is so open to feedback. Programmers sometimes take it personally when their code is criticized, but Melissa has been a great reminder of how to always view feedback in a positive and constructive way!

What about interning at Groupon impacted your decision to join us as a full-time employee?

[Melissa]  Having a very smart and supportive mentor was one of the primary reasons. To have that connection, admiration, and role model who was invested in guiding my career path as a software developer became an asset that Groupon had which other companies could not compete with. Another big incentive to returning to Groupon was that I would be able to rejoin the same team I had interned with. The Discovery and Demand (Getaways) team is filled with smart and committed developers, and it is exciting to work alongside them. Finally, I found the Groupon culture to be a great fit for me; they are serious about software, but also value work-life balance and team building. All of these reasons made my decision rather easy.

What differentiates Groupon Engineering from other Tech companies?

[Karena] One major difference in Engineering at Groupon is the openness of the culture. I love the way we open source a lot of our projects so other engineers can benefit from our efforts. Internally, I love how collaborative the engineering teams are and the way we are developing good processes for working in each other’s repositories. Many Tech companies are more siloed and it’s difficult to contribute to code repositories that your team doesn’t own.

Want to learn more about women in Tech at Groupon? Check out or aptly-named category to get more insight.


Why Leave Groupon Engineering for a [Much, Much] Bigger Tech Company, Then Return? Director of Engineering Manish Chhabra Tells All.

By
at April 10th, 2017

director engineering grouponI am one of the recent boomerang employees of Groupon. Like some others who have left and come back, I also decided to return for the challenging opportunities and the engineering culture. In my first role here, I was leading our Goods Engineering team which is responsible for driving the engineering and product enhancements to build the online marketplace where our customers discover and save on amazing products. After more than three years with the organization, I decided to pursue an opportunity at one of the biggest and highly-coveted tech companies, but after a short stint I decided to come back to Groupon.

There are many reasons why someone might seek out a new role; sometimes they find an opportunity that appears to be better for their career growth and other times it’s merely the itch to try something different. I’m constantly pursuing new challenges to solve as the joy and satisfaction of positively impacting the lives of people is immense. At Groupon, we keep our engineering teams at an optimal size and empower our engineers to make a huge impact on the design and outcome of each product.

As an organization, Groupon is continuously growing and evolving in the local commerce domain. With this continuous growth, we are solving a lot of engineering challenges in a fast-paced environment. Some of these challenges include moving away from a monolith stack to Service-oriented architecture or the challenge we encountered while building a real-time analytics engine for our A/B Testing framework, along with many others. 

We have a lot of talented, energizing, and smart employees who come from diverse backgrounds. The culture encourages innovation in order to keep us up to date with the latest technology trends. GEEKon, our global internal hackathon which encourages engineers to create useful solutions for the company in a cross-collaborative environment, is one example.

What else is Groupon Engineering up to? Click here to get to read about our employees, our work, and our passion for building the next generation of Engineers. 


How Women@Groupon is Commemorating Women’s History Month

By
at March 8th, 2017

Written by: Nicole Meyerson, Marketing Program Manager and Women@Groupon Community & Volunteering Co-Chair

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You may recall some ideas we suggested for companies to celebrate International Women’s Week last year. Since our past celebrations of the important day have been so well-attended, and in light of the current political climate, we’ve expanded our programming to all of March around Women’s History Month.

Companies large and small can draw inspiration from our initiatives below. The first step is acknowledging that women in the workplace have different challenges than men, and that truly anyone can be an ally.

“We’re excited to build on the successes of last year and celebrate the amazing accomplishments of women with engaging programming throughout March,” said Anjana Dalal.  Deb Schwartz added, “Acknowledging all those who have blazed the trail for us makes me realize how much more impact we all can have.”

March 6: Women@Groupon presents our “View From the Top” speaker series featuring former Navy Seal and business expert Pete Naschak. He’ll discuss leadership skills for women in the workplace.

March 15: Groupon’s Talent Development team established a partnership with Second City Works to put on a series of Inclusion 101 Workshops; the first starts in March. In their words, “We believe that the same skills that make successful improvisers can also support an inclusive culture. By offering experiences, unpacking ideas, and providing real-world tools, our programs give participants ways to practice inclusion.” Explore their course offerings.

March 16: In partnership with Blacks in Groupon (aka BiG) and IMPACT Chicago, we’re hosting a “Speak Up, Speak Out” self-defense workshop. Skills including reading body language and assessing verbal communication, projecting confident body language, and speaking confidently and powerfully can prove vital in a variety of situations.

March 17: Fireside Chat with Groupon’s new Vice President of Investor Relations, and Women@Groupon’s executive sponsor Deb Schwartz.

All month long, and March 11: Collecting gently-used professional clothing and accessories for Dress For Success throughout the month, and volunteering onsite at their Chicago donation center. (Anyone can contribute to their Amazon wish list!)

March 22: Networking organization ARA launched in Chicago in 2013, and has since established chapters in other cities across the country. Women@Groupon is co-sponsoring their event A Journey in Progress: Diversity & Inclusion at the Chicago Trading Company. This event is open to all attendees who register in advance.

Curious about what diversity and inclusion mean to Groupon at a corporate level? Read Karishma Patel Buford’s take, Global Head of Talent Development & Diversity, on ARA’s blog.

People of all genders can celebrate this important month with coworkers and loved ones. Follow the conversation on social media at #WomensHistoryMonth. Men, your efforts are needed and appreciated, too! Watch this speech to learn more about where to start.

Groupon employees: Visit Women@Groupon’s Skynet page to view more details about the above events, and to RSVP.


Groupon Hosts STEM Workshop With Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago

By
at February 21st, 2017

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Groupon’s vision for STEM Education is for more students in diverse and underserved communities to have access and be inspired to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math – and today, our Social Responsibility team hosted 120 of Chicagoland’s best and brightest 3rd-8th grade scouts for a fun-filled day of STEM.

Groupon Girl Scouts Engineering

Throughout the day, the girls worked alongside technical employees to practice problem solving and process iteration in a series of hands-on activities including electrical circuits, bridge building and an Hour of Code in Code.org. The girls also got to hear from five of our very own to learn about how Groupon uses technology to connect consumers with the local community and earn their very own “Scout Out Engineering” merit badge.

Groupon partnered with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana back in 2013 to develop a program engaging young girls in STEM. Since then, we have involved 560 girls, engaged 200 employee volunteers and built 120 popsicle stick bridges.


A Year in Review | 2016 Employee Volunteer Program Recap

at January 30th, 2017

 

Our Social Responsibility mission is simple: to help people and communities thrive and prosper. We do this through a secret formula of employee do-goodery, responsible business practices, customer collaboration and nonprofit investment.

2016 has been an exciting year for Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program – a year of increased engagement and more significant impact in the communities where employees live and work. In short order, we’ve seen the culture of employee volunteerism shift from simply being a “nice to do” to being core to our values and a part of who we are as a global leader in local e-commerce.

This past year, we:

  • Engaged more employees in more offices than ever before during the third annual Volunteer-a-thon in June.
  • Piloted the first Grouponsultation (pro bono) cohort where teams of employees worked collaboratively on capacity-building projects with nonprofits to help solve critical community issues.
  • Launched the first Global Leadership Team, where 24 rockstar employees stepped up to support the great volunteer work in offices across the company.
  • Hosted the annual VolunteerMatch Summit bringing industry leaders to our HQ office in Chicago where Groupon’s VP of Sales & Merchant Operations and the EVP’s Executive Sponsor, Jay Klauminzer, delivered the keynote address.

Our volunteers are ready and eager to continue this great work and “do good” with exceptional purpose in the year ahead. Keep an eye out for more to come from Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program in 2017.

Looking for something you can do in your local community? Check out VolunteerMatch for opportunities to get involved in your area.

2016 EVP Recap

2016 EVP Recap