Employee Spotlight: Alicia the Arnold Palmer Aficionado

By
at March 27th, 2015

Alicia went from intern to full-time employee and continues to make impressive strides with community engagement at Groupon.

What’s your title? Program Coordinator, Employee & Community Engagement Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 10.26.51 AM

You started here as an intern, so now that you’re an employee, what’s different? I’ve been very lucky to get to work with an unbelievable team of mentors and peers these past two years at Groupon, all of whom have played a part in making this transition from intern to full-time employee a relatively seamless one for me. I’d have to say that the biggest difference between being an intern and a full-time employee is the sense of autonomy and ownership over my work. As an intern, I definitely felt that my work was important, but if something was left unfinished, it wasn’t like the world was going to crumble. In my role now, I really do feel that I’ve been given a great opportunity to develop an entire program and truly make it my own. I am able to create work in the spaces that I find holes and see my ideas come to fruition. But with this newfound ownership and creative freedom comes an expectation to do something impactful. There is now a whole new set of pressures to continue to produce even better work than your last, but that’s what makes it exciting.

Groupon recently hit 15,000 volunteer hours for 2014 (awesome!). What was your role in that initiative? Last year, I contributed 126 hours of volunteering. I actively participated as an individual in the Employee Volunteer Program by mentoring through Spark in the Fall semester, serving my ‘world famous’ Arnold Palmer mix at Sunday Night Supper through Chicago Lights, and joining in on ad hoc volunteer opportunities. I feel very lucky to have grown up able-bodied and have the world at my fingertips; giving back to those who may not have those same opportunities seems to be the least that I can do. I live by a goal to make at least one person smile each day, and volunteering is my way to achieve that.

What has been the most challenging part of your role? The most challenging part of my role has definitely been learning about a business that is growing so rapidly. One of the most exciting parts about working at a tech company is that things move very quickly and there are endless opportunities to create something from nothing. My favorite explanation that I’ve heard on the challenges that come with working in such an ever-evolving environment was when our CEO asked a group, “Who here has kids? What were they like when they were six years old?”

My role with the Employee Volunteer Program is unique in the sense that I get to work with employees all across the business, but it does provide it’s challenges in simply learning what everybody does to make this company a well-oiled machine. Looking back a year ago, I had my eyes set on working for a small non-profit organization or following a passion in student affairs… Little did I know that I would now be working with accountants and engineers and editors and sales reps at a global, public e-commerce company; teaching the charity gal about balance sheets and C++ is not an easy feat.

Where would you like to see EVP in the next year? I am so excited to see the Employee Volunteer Program expand globally this next year with chapters in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Employee volunteerism has truly become an integral part of the Groupon employee experience in our North American offices, and I cannot wait to see the amazing things that employees do out in the community all across the globe. We are in such a uniquely special position working here at Groupon, and it is remarkable to work amongst such talented and brilliant human beings that really have so much to give to our local communities around the world.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 10.27.27 AMFunniest thing you’ve experienced while being here? These past two years I have had the pleasure of interacting with a number of different people across the company, and I can safely say that I work with a bunch of ameatuer comedians (some actually professional, but the rest are ameatuer nonetheless). I’ve experienced a colleague who laughs at his own ‘dad jokes’ and then looks over for confirmation that he really is funny, another colleague who sews his teammates mouse to their mousepad with floss he found in his backpack only after posting ‘Fish Only’ signs on the microwaves in the midst of an office-wide rampage due to stinky lunches, and a Celine Dion karaoke session just when you need a little mental break. My days are filled with nothing short of funny experiences – just ask all of those who can hear my obnoxious cackle ring through the Enchanted Forest.


Tech Spotlight: Hamish in Mobile Engineering

By
at March 26th, 2015

Today we get to know Hamish, Senior Engineering Manager in Palo Alto. Hamish joined Groupon in 2013, leaving Australia behind for a new adventure in The Valley.

Hamish - Tech - PA

What do you do? I started at Groupon as part of the relevance team and led a project to roll out the real-time relevance platform internationally. From there, I moved groups to help extend the responsibilities of a mobile infrastructure team. We’re working on back-end mobile infrastructure, and working closely with other mobile teams to improve our push notification infrastructure. For instance, we recently launched location-based context-aware push notifications.

So what did you do before Groupon and what brought you here? I was the VP of Engineering at a small 12-person startup in Australia. We focused on social recommendations for real-world places. In 2013, a Groupon recruiter contacted me about an opportunity in Palo Alto. Obviously, The Valley is where you want to be to feel like you’re on the cutting edge of technology. I had wanted to work in The Valley since ’98, and after the opportunity to work at Groupon came up and I learned more about the long-term vision of the company, I was intrigued.

What do you enjoy about tech at Groupon? I like the opportunities to be entrepreneurial. You can make a big impact here, whether it’s improving the technology or the infrastructure of the business. The marketing things we do with the deals is really the tip of the iceberg.

What advice do you have for someone interested in joining Tech at Groupon? Interviewing can be tough, but we’re really dedicated to finding the best talent for our initiatives and challenges. Be prepared to take opportunities and run with them, and when you see a chance to make a big difference, take it.

Anything else? I play Kendo (Japanese fencing) and have a two-year-old son, Vinicius.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If you’re interested in venturing past the tip of the iceberg and want to make an impact on our Mobile team, click here to view our open opportunities. 


Desk of the Week: An Editorial Oasis

By
at March 24th, 2015

If a desk could have a theme song, this one would have to be “Escape”:

Amelia's Desk

Name: Amelia Buzzell

Job: Senior Writer and Pinterest Editor

What inspired you to decorate your desk?: I’ve always had a potpourri of weird things on my desk. When I first started at Groupon (four years ago this week!) I put a tablecloth on it to make it cozy, and eventually added random items like a decoy duck, a wax ear, and a coconut sculpture I inherited from a departing colleague.  Last year I redid my desk in a Wes Anderson theme as part of a story for the Groupon Guide, but redid it again in this beach theme about two months ago.

Why a beach theme?: I sit on a busy aisle and kept getting distracted by people rushing by, so I figured a giant beach umbrella could help me carve out a little nook of my own. A 72″ beach umbrella looks strange at an otherwise-normal desk, though, so I helped it look more at home by adding a couple of grass skirts, a dozen flamingo koozies, and a cactus piñata from another Groupon Guide DIY article.

How do people react to your desk?: I’m honestly surprised that people are so surprised by this setup. Has anybody seen our office? Do you guys realize we have a forest, a spaceship, Michael’s “Smooth Operator” bicycle, and a few dismembered mannequins sitting around? My little old beach has nothing on those oddities, so I’m flattered by passing compliments and photo ops.



Meet Some of the Women Behind Groupon’s International Women’s Week

By
at March 20th, 2015

Women @ Groupon sponsored a five-day femme-stravaganza for International Women’s Week and every day saw great turnout and participation.

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Here’s a quick breakdown of last week’s events:

Monday: A Lunch & Learn with an all-female panel of senior executives from across the organization covered topics such as raises, performance reviews, self-promotion, and how to navigate the often murky waters of career growth.

Tuesday: A screening of Half the Sky brought roughly 50 employees together to view how the Half the Sky movement continually helps women from across the globe who strive to change their often difficult circumstances.

Wednesday: Both a bake sale and a bra drive generated impressive donations for our partnership with Dress for Success.

Thursday: Women @ Groupon’s new executive sponsor, Sri Viswanath, spoke at a Town Hall meeting which focused on what to expect in 2015.

Friday: Ann Ziegler, SVP/CFO of CDW and Groupon’s only female board member, spoke to an audience of over 100 people (with many remote participants as well) about her professional journey.

Let’s meet the women who helped to make IWW happen.

1. Carolyn Dorant, Site Editor and Women @ Groupon Communications Co-Chair

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As Communications Co-Chair, Carolyn’s main responsibility for IWW centered around ensuring that our North American employees were informed of all the events of the week. She also interviewed many of the IWW participants and speakers for Groupon’s intranet and kept the forum updated with information about when and where events were taking place.

“My favorite event of the week was the Lunch & Learn on Monday in which leaders from different departments talked about raises, promotions, and self-promotion.”

2. Rachel Matuch, Content & Community Manager, Groupon Coupons and Women@ Groupon Special Events Co-Chair

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Rachel helped to coordinate the entire week of events as Special Events Co-Chair alongside Allison DiDominick. Having Ann Ziegler in to speak was one of her favorites parts of IWW, and she felt that Ann had great advice on asking to be considered for new roles and challenges, “Take that step. The worst thing that can happen is that somebody says no.”

Rachel says, “Our GrouponWorks merchant blog profiled female small business owners in honor of the week. Check out their interviews with Wild Heart Beauty Salon owner Misty Briglia and Dragonfly Cakes owner Brooks Nyugen for some great inspiration from women who are out there making things happen.”

3. Allison DiDominick, Technical Recruiter in Chicago and Women @ Groupon Special Events Co-Chair

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As one of the co-chairs for the events committee, Allison coordinated and planned how to execute the multiple events throughout the week. The project management this type of event entailed proved to be a great learning experience for her.

Allison’s favorite part of the week? “Having our Executive Sponsor, Sri Viswanath, join our Town Hall meeting to speak about his passion for supporting Women @ Groupon as well as learning about navigating internal office politics from our internal female panel.”

4. Val Agnew, Recruiting Project Manager and Women @ Groupon Co-Chair

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As Co-Chair for Women @ Groupon, Val oversaw much of the general event planning, but was most excited to hone skills she doesn’t use everyday as a Project Manager in Recruiting. Val MC’d the Town Hall on Tuesday (in conjunction with Lori Kaplan, Co-Chair in Palo Alto) and interviewed Ann Ziegler on Friday.

“My favorite part of the week was seeing it all come together. We had an event everyday, we had great attendance, and all of it culminating with the event with Ann was a great way to cap off the week.”

Thanks for reading the Groupon People Blog–A blog about People at Groupon. You can see all of our current open jobs here, and please let us know what you think in the comments below.


Groupon Employee Spotlight: Faizal in Tax

By
at March 18th, 2015

Today we get to know Faizal, the Global Leader of Direct Tax and Transfer Pricing. Faizal joined Groupon in June of 2014 and felt palpable excitement in the office from day one. A self-described “fixer,” he explains how Groupon gives him the opportunity to dive into multiple challenges within the organization.

Faizal TaxWhat did you do before coming to Groupon? I led Wal-Mart’s global e-commerce tax group and covered state, local, international, transfer pricing, local, country tax, etc.

Why did you decide to come to Groupon? It was the opportunity to join a very innovative organization. I would say at heart I’m a builder and a fixer. When I came to visit the office, the energy I felt when I walked into the building and walked the floor was (and is) a palpable, positive energy. People here want to win—they’re not just here to collect a paycheck. The vast majority of people here are in it to succeed and win. When you have a group of people that are striving toward that same goal, it’s infectious and exciting.

What has surprised you most about working here? The breadth of issues. Some people may view that as a negative, but I view it more as an opportunity. Coming to work here, you’re going to see a lot more issues that cover a broader range of topics than at most other companies and you’ll have more opportunities to dive into these things and drive value.

What has been the biggest challenge? I would say resource constraints. Resource constraint is the great equalizer where ruthless prioritization and multitasking are the keys to success. This helps issues get the time they need for resolution with the right mix of internal resources and advisors.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into Tax at Groupon? Have an open mind! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes people feel daunted with the volume of work and issues, and because they don’t want to give the wrong answer, but you need to ask questions to understand what’s going on. Unless you’ve already worked at a startup, the speed with which we move and operate is beyond what most people have seen. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask lots of questions.

For people that want autonomy and the ability to drive value early on, Groupon is the right place for you.

Funniest thing that’s happened at the office? There was an associate who sits on a Salesforce ball (Groupon-speak for “exercise ball”) at her desk. Well, one day there was a point at which she got really relaxed and started to slide off the ball. It actually took her a full minute to fall off because she couldn’t find her balance. Finally, she fell to the floor and everyone in Finance stood and gave her a standing ovation.

If you’re interested in working on the Tax team, or just want motivation to do your taxes, click here to view our open positions.



Groupon Employee Spotlight: From Country Club Intern to Groupon Getaways

By
at March 17th, 2015
Sam Shoemaker

Sam (left) with Getaways coworkers Seth and Amanda outside the Greenbrier Hotel

Today, we get to know Sam, the Head of Travel Sales for the Western region in Getaways. Sam joined Groupon in 2013 as an Account Representative and quickly became a success story. Within a very lucky 13-month period, she worked her way through the following titles: Account Representative, Account Executive, Team Lead, Senior Account Executive, Millionaire’s Club winner, and “Employee With the Most Titles.”

What’s a typical day for you in Getaways? I start with checking what happened the day before: what we had in terms of closes and where we need to be for that day and the rest of the week. After that, I break that up into segments and see where I can help different reps within the Western region achieve success.

You didn’t come from a Sales background I hear, so what drew you to a Sales role, specifically at Groupon? My background was at a private, members-only country club in Michigan. I built out my role from an intern and kept growing the role into what it was when I left. So I had that small business experience and basically had the private experience, too. At the end of my time at the club, I wanted something completely the opposite of what I was used to: big, public, corporate, with more structure in terms of the organization. Groupon fit with all of those, especially in terms of size; there’s a lot of freedom here and a lot of constant change.

What do you like about selling Groupon Getaways? I love sales, period. I also love that you’ll get out what you’re willing to put in. With Groupon, I like that it’s competitive; you can measure yourself and how well you’re doing because all the information you need is up on the site. Specifically to Getaways, you’re calling into places that are expecting to hear from us and also expecting to learn more about how we can help them grow their business.

What’s something you haven’t done here yet that you want to do? I’m excited to learn more about the Western region [in Getaways sales] since I came from the Northeast. The two regions operate very differently from each other in terms of sales styles, so you’re figuring out ways to tailor your conversations based on where you’re calling into.

Anything else? I’m going to Italy in September! We’ll be visiting Rome and Tuscany—of course I used Groupon Getaways.

If you’re interested in a Sales career in Groupon Getaways, or just want some light beach reading, click here to view our open positions.


Sales Miniview: Kelsey, the Target of Office Pranks

By
at March 16th, 2015

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We have a new category on the People Blog! With Sales Miniviews, we’ll feature a rock and/or star from the Sales organization to talk about their Groupon journey. Today’s interview features Kelsey, a Sales Rep for Atlanta.

Name: Kelsey

Title: Sales Rep for Atlanta

Start date: September 15, 2014

Based on your initial thoughts, what’s been most surprising? Everyone here has helped to create such a great culture to not only meet people, but also interact with managers at every level, which I feel like you might not be exposed to at other companies.

What do you attribute to your success here? I always wanted to do sales and was told I’d be good at it even though I didn’t have a business background. What helped at Groupon is that the training program and the managers are so informative and hands-on. What they teach makes you want to keep going and improving.

As your first sales job, how do you feel about selling Groupon? Given that I was a Speech and Hearing major, I’ve always been interested in helping people and I really didn’t want to be in a sales job unless I believed in the product. So for myself, I had to know I’d make a difference in someone’s life. Because of that, I really enjoy selling Groupon because I do think it helps a lot of businesses.

Funniest thing that’s happened at the office? People seemingly play a lot of pranks on me. One time while I was on the phone, I stood up and one of the managers took my chair and started passing it down the rows so I had to go chase it down.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. To learn more about our Sales opportunities, click here to either apply or refer a well-qualified stranger.



Sales Miniview: Getting to Know Alex and the Triangularities of Groupon

By
at March 16th, 2015

We have a new category on the People Blog! With Sales Miniviews, we’ll feature a rock and/or star from the Sales organization to talk about their Groupon journey. Today’s interview features Alex, an Account Rep for Denver.

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Name: Alex

What do you do? I started as an Inbound Sales Representative in July 2014, and am now an Account Rep for Denver.

Based on what your thoughts were initially, what’s been most surprising about working at Groupon? I didn’t really know what to expect, to be totally honest. I had used Groupon, and I knew it was young, fast-paced, and that there was flexibility in terms of upward mobility. I came to Chicago to interview and thought, let’s take a chance—if it works out, great, if not maybe there’s something else at the company I’d be interested in doing. So I got the job and it was great from day one.

What do you attribute to your success here? When I started, I told myself I wanted to be as sponge-like as possible. I came in without sales experience. I basically started with nothing and decided that anything I was going to learn was going to increase my skills set. I took in a lot of information, asked questions when I didn’t understand, worked on what needed improvement, and was confident in my abilities.

Since this is your first Sales role, how do you feel about selling Groupon? I like that selling Groupon is challenging. I actually don’t even really think about it as “selling”: you’re pitching an opportunity.

It’s totally different than selling something physical because of how much is involved. You have to figure out what works for the merchant, the customer, and Groupon, so in that respect it’s like a triangle…if that makes sense.

Funniest thing that’s happened at the office? I was on the phone with a merchant about a month ago right when they were coming out with Presidents’ Club. Out of nowhere, in walks a mariachi band playing while walking around the office. I started laughing and had to apologize but the merchant started cracking up with me, which was great. It showed the fun and human side to Sales at Groupon.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. To learn more about our Sales opportunities, click here to either apply or ponder what shape you think Groupon might be.