On an overcast Tuesday morning in Chicago, roughly 20 members of our Engineering organization gathered together amongst donuts and Chilean Bon Bons to take part in a workshop designed to improve and build upon our Engineering Ambassadors program. The EA program came to fruition as part of ETHOS (Engineering Traditions, Habits, Operations, Standards), whose mission is to develop a strong and inclusive Engineering culture.
Over the course of two days, the ambassadors participated in improv exercises, games, and breakout sessions to discuss what’s working, what’s not, and how did Jeff Ayars become the sponsor of everything, anyway? While the event was hosted in Chicago, employees from multiple offices came in to lend valuable perspectives on how to ensure our new hires—regardless of location–are all experiencing the same comprehensive onboarding and orientation.
Since the Engineering Ambassadors program was formed in fall of 2014, over 35 members are now active from offices in Dublin, Santiago, NYC, Chicago, Seattle, and Palo Alto. The ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive, inclusive, and streamlined experience to our new Tech hires. Ideally, new Grouponers should end their first day/week/month feeling like they were welcomed to their team and had all of the resources they needed to be successful.
Day one of the workshop focused on brainstorming; the group discussed what the typical Engineering onboarding and orientation process entails and what could be added or removed. Ideas for improvement ranged from creating in roads to better understanding of technical standards across the organization, to manager specific onboarding for engineering, to how to spread awareness of the ambassadors program overall. Questions addressed included what should new hires expect by day 30/60/90, does having a best friend at work really matter, and how to get more senior leader sponsorship.
On the second day, the group focused on more tactical items: who would own what piece of the process, when action items needed to be completed, when and with whom to collaborate, etc. Another key element of day two included identifying whether or not Engineering managers, HR, or ambassadors would take the lead on certain aspects of onboarding and orientation. And, yes, there were millions of sticky notes all over the room.
Engineering Ambassador, Emily Wilson, shares some insight into her experience being an EA
How did you get involved?
I was nominated to be an Engineering Ambassador a little over a year ago. Taking part in the Engineering Ambassador program kickstarted my career between the connections I’ve made and what they’ve inspired in me.
Through participating in the program, I realized that shaping Engineering culture is just as much my responsibility as anyone else’s. The lesson has been invaluable to my career. It’s taught me two things that continue to lead to success in whatever I do:
- To never stop striving for excellence
- A bias for action that we tout as a core competency across Groupon.
How have you seen the program positively impact new hires?
I was an internal transfer into Groupon Engineering before the program existed, so I have a lot of compassion for new hires coming from a different company altogether. Culture varies so much from company to company that feeling comfortable with what you know and what you don’t isn’t always an easy transition. The new hires I’ve seen go through this program are more comfortable with their teams and asking questions earlier on, which is not only welcome but necessary to be successful in Groupon Engineering. They feel like they belong and know the importance of honest conversation leading to optimal solutions.