Employee Spotlight: Genny Konz, VP Sales Operations in North America

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at May 9th, 2016

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Genny Konz is Groupon’s VP of Sales Operations and Women@Groupon’s Executive Sponsor. After more than a decade of work in Investor Relations; Financial, Planning and Analysis; and Mergers & Acquisitions at Hewitt Associates (AON), Groupon called. The conversation presented an appealing next step for her career.

“The idea of running Investor Relations for an early-stage tech company, and the challenge of managing some challenging external-perception issues was very attractive to me, and not an opportunity that comes along every day, let alone in Chicago,” she says. In her time at Groupon, she’s had an impact on investor relations, FP&A, and the North American sales team. Today, she’s the VP of our sales operations team, which includes sales operations managers, sales trainers, and analysts who keep our sales team running smoothly and efficiently.

How did your career start?
My passion in college believe it or not, was accounting. After graduating from Bucknell University with my Accounting degree, I was an investment banking analyst with Banc of America Securities. While I learned a lot of the basic fundamentals in banking–how to build an excel mode and an effective presentation, and more importantly, the value of working your butt off–I was interested in something that had more of a communications angle.

How did you make that switch?
Investor relations was the perfect mix of numbers and communication. I took a job with Hewitt Associates as an analyst on their investor relations (IR) team. After 2 years, my boss left the company, and I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run the department. I was about 26 or 27 years old and absolutely terrified about the level of responsibility I was asked to take on. The job nearly killed me (physically), but this was my first lesson in trusting others, and venturing out of my comfort zone.

How did that lesson translate into progress?
After a few successful years of running IR, was tapped on the shoulder by our CFO for a new opportunity. If you’d asked me if there was one job in the entire company that I was not interested in, it was the one that they wanted me to take. The idea of FP&A (financial, planning and analysis) was terrifying to me (notice a trend?), and something I was convinced was not a fit for my skill set.

Others saw something different in me. They saw someone that would be a great fit for the role.  So before I knew it, I was running FP&A, and having much success. Here we have lesson number two in taking risks, getting out of the comfort zone, and trusting others.

How is your career different than you planned?
I spent 15+ years in finance, and am now in the business…surprise!  I couldn’t be happier with my decision, but I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences that I’ve had.

Why did you transition into the role you’re in today?
After nearly 4 years at Groupon, I was starting to think about what was next. I’ve spent my career in finance, but I do not have aspirations to be a CFO. I do however, have interest in running a business some day. I started to have discussions internally about how I could get closer to the business, and the rest is history. I’m again out of my comfort zone…and loving every minute of it.

What drew you to work at Groupon?
The idea of working for an early stage company forging its way in a new industry was very attractive to me. I viewed it as a place that I could go to really have an impact, and work with some super smart people along the way. I wouldn’t do anything differently if I had to do it all over again.

What is a quality you appreciate in an employee or colleague?
Anyone that has worked closely with me knows that I value attitude above all else.  Technical skills are of course important to our day-to-day jobs, but I am so much more likely to want to work with and/or coach someone that exhibits a positive, can-do attitude, and a genuine willingness to learn. I’ll take a positive attitude over a technical skill set all day long.

In your opinion, what is the value of diverse voices in a room and mentorship in a workplace?
Diverse voices bring diverse perspectives.  I believe that the best way to make a decision, particularly in business, is to evaluate it from all angles.  Whether it be ethnic diversity, gender diversity, diversity of experience, or diversity in some other form, each brings a different frame of reference to test and inform our views. Also, diversity is the spice of life and keeps things interesting.  We all benefit from having someone/something different to challenge our norms and our everyday thinking.

A strong mentor/mentee match is a tool that I encourage everyone to take advantage of at some point in their career, whether formally or informally. Like any tool, its usefulness is dependent on its users and how they engage with it. I have always gotten the most out of just having an objective voice by which I can run things when I’m stuck or frustrated. I have found that the most successful pairings can be just as useful if not more so, for the mentor, than for the mentee.

Do you believe there is a secret in rising to the top?
I don’t know that it is a secret, as much as it is a common recipe. A common trait in people that rise to the top is confidence, and trusting that when they fall down, they’ll get right back up. They’re not afraid to take risks, and they’re constantly pushing outside their comfort zones.

 What’s the best advice that somebody else has given you?
When you feel comfortable at work, it’s time to make change. Take risks. Trust yourself, you’ll figure it out!

 What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
There are no do-overs, life happens only once. Love what you do, but make sure it doesn’t define you.

 

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Groupon Intern Blog: Interns On Deck…Batter Up!

at June 21st, 2016

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2016! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and working with our teams.

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Summer is in the air! Weather is warming up, school is out and the interns are beginning their bright futures!

Orientation Day is practically a holiday here at Groupon, and we never shy away from celebrating. For our interns, it’s the start of an exciting adventure where they will learn the ins and outs of what it means to be a world-class developer, data scientist, product manager or designer. Not to mention having a ton of fun while doing it! From scavenger hunting to taking selfies with wizards and space cats, internship kick-off day is probably our favorite day of the year!

Untitled presentation (19)But don’t think for a second that the interns get to have all the fun; our managers and engineers have been looking forward to having their new teammates join for the summer! Since we integrate our interns so closely with our teams, they can’t wait to mentor them and encourage their contributions to meaningful projects that will directly impact millions of users!

 

 

Untitled presentation (20)While the kick off days are just the beginning, there’s so much more to come. We’re beyond excited to see how everyone progresses over the next few months and what incredible projects these cats come up with.

 

Stay tuned for regular blog posts from our eager interns who will undoubtedly knock it out of the park!

 

 

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A Very Special Volunteer Spotlight: Christopher Heath-Morgan

at June 15th, 2016

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Groupon employees have some of the biggest hearts around, and Outside Senior Account Executive, Christopher Heath-Morgan, is no exception. In the wake of the tragic events in Orlando, Chris has sprung into action, doing what he can to support the community that he loves.

 

Name: Christopher Heath-Morgan

 

Department & Title: Sales, Outside Senior Account Executive

 

Office Location: Orlando

 

How long have you worked at Groupon? 4 and ½ years

 

What organization and/or cause fuels your passion? While I have several causes I care about, the tragic events in Orlando this past Sunday have given me a singular focus — get as much help to the families of the victims as possible and help raise awareness for the LGBT community. This horrible crime has affected many close to me, and I have always had a strong stance on equality since I was raised by an openly gay Grandma.

 

What is your favorite volunteer memory while at Groupon? My wife and I took time on Sunday to bring juice and snacks to a couple of the local blood banks to help them accommodate the huge turn out for blood donors (Yay Orlando!!). In the coming days, I will be working with several local restaurant groups to brainstorm and put together events and community gatherings to spread awareness and raise much needed funds. I know we can do some amazing things, so I am looking forward to following this up with some great successes!

 

What could you do with one hour? This weekend’s tragedy reminds me that one hour has the power to change lives and it has inspired me to use that power to make a positive impact on my local community. I encourage my fellow Grouponers to get involved.


If anyone would like to help support the affected families in Orlando, local restaurant groups — TMG, Bento Group and VGroup — are collecting donations here: https://www.gofundme.com/ForOurCityOrlando.
For more information please visit www.PrayForOrlando.info.


Volunteer Spotlight – Matt Kruse

at June 10th, 2016

Matt Kruse

Name

Matt Kruse

Department & Title
Communications, Head of Social Responsibility

Office Location
Chicago

How long have you worked at Groupon?
11 months

What organization and/or cause fuels your passion?
Civil rights, human rights, organizations that empower people to embrace who they are and achieve their full potential.

What is your favorite volunteer memory at Groupon?
I had the opportunity to bring my 10 year old son to a volunteer event last August with First Book and it was pretty cool. We sorted donated books and helped local teachers “shop” for books to stock their classroom libraries.

What could you do with one hour?
Is this rhetorical? It’s a question I should probably ask myself more often than I do.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Jessy Gheen

at June 10th, 2016

Jessy Gheen

Name
Jessy Gheen

Department & Title
Sales, BDR

Office Location
Phoenix

How long have you worked at Groupon?
1.2 years

What organization and/or cause fuels your passion?
I love any organization that helps animals or kids. Helping those who don’t have a voice to helps themselves feels the most  rewarding. We have volunteered with The Boys & Girls club multiple times and the smiles on their faces every time we are there is amazing.

What is your favorite volunteer memory at Groupon?
Habitat for Humanity 100%. Being able to puts some blood, sweat and tears into a volunteer event made it all the more worthwhile. Actually building a house for the first time  gave me incredible joy and we were helping put a roof over 5 people’s head. Although my hammering skills were less than up to par, I sure could use the miter saw.

What could you do with one hour?
The possibilities are endless. As long as you dedicate yourself your one hour is incredibly valuable

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Employee Spotlight: Freedom Shannon, Outside Divisional Sales Manager Extraordinaire

By
at April 28th, 2016

Name: Freedom Shannon

Title: External Divisional Sales Manager, New Business Development, Restaurants

Start Date:  April 2011

freedom sales rep

You’ve been with Groupon since 2011, so you’ve obviously seen a lot of organizational changes. How do you balance pivoting with the company while still kicking butt in an Outside Sales role? 

Staying focused and never forgetting our mission is to help businesses grow and make life less boring for our customers​. Regardless of the changes, you just have to roll with the punches and stay focused on what you have control over. Another key to pivoting is staying on top of the changes and knowing how those changes affect your position.

What are some common misconceptions about running a Groupon campaign?

There are two common misconceptions about running a Groupon campaign:

  1. Restaurants, more than any other vertical, believe it will damage their brand. Someone recently compared Groupon to a hotel yield management system. Groupon connects businesses directly with consumers. For example, if you’re a customer looking at Expedia or Hotels.com and see a Ritz Carlton ad placed next to a Motel 6, your impression of the Ritz doesn’t change.
  2. There are many restaurant owners who still believe they will lose money running on Groupon. Groupon is an advertising vehicle, and the most cost-effective customer acquisition tool there is on the market. Groupon not only takes the cost of goods into consideration when developing an incentive to ensure it makes financial sense, we customize campaigns to ensure the image restaurant owners have built stays in tact. We leverage the reputation they have built to attract new faces and keep current customers coming back.

The value of Groupon to both restaurants and customers is the win-win-win scenario. A customer gets to try a great new place with no risk, the restaurant gets to showcase what they’re known for and allow someone to have a real experience vs reading or hearing about it.

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What’s unique about you that sets you apart from other Sales leaders?

Tough question. I still learn so much every day from other sales leaders in the organization, and all of us have different backgrounds and experiences.  There are two qualities I admire in a leader so I try to adhere to them: empathy and dependability​. People confuse sympathy and empathy.  Empathy means understanding where people are coming from and putting yourself in their shoes. If you’re able to do this, it gives you the ability to help them grow and remove barriers to success. The other is being dependable. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. ​I like to think I’m always there for my reps, managers, and merchants even nights, weekends, and holidays. With a team that is in the field, they need to know I am only a phone call away.  ​

As an Outside Divisional Sales Manager, you (and your team) are obviously physically far from headquarters; how do you maintain that sense of Groupon culture and mission while out in the field?

The Groupon culture is ​like a collaborative family. Regardless of our roles, we are all here to help each other. Although we are remote, we still have weekly team meetings and​ thanks to technology we can be on camera sharing success stories. We have team get-togethers, meeting for breakfast or lunch, and occasionally have Groupon Cupcake Takeovers where we get together and deliver cupcakes to some of our top merchants. The team of individuals I get to work with daily are driven, smart, hard-working, and bleed green.

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Do you have any favorite merchant stories that stand out?

Oh, my. There are so many! One that stands out is when I was still a rep here at Groupon. I was sitting with a high-end restaurant owner and he was concerned that running a Groupon would damage his brand. The ROI made sense, but he was still on the fence. While sitting there, another restaurant owner I personally worked with walked in. They were friends. The guy sits down next to me, gets a cup of coffee and starts raving about how much Groupon has helped his business. He was seeing new faces, customers would overspend, and then he turned and ​actually hugged me. Knowing Groupon helped his business felt like a buzzer winning last minute shot in a basketball game​.

Favorite Groupon memory?

My favorite memory is still from my first week of training.  I was in Chicago, stressed because there is so much to learn and so much information. One night I went out with a few people from our training class, and other Groupon staff. Midway through the night, we were in a bar and Florence + the Machine’s song, “Dog Days Are Over” came on.  It seemed everyone was singing​, ​dancing, and having a good time​. The next morning, we were all right back to work. ​I knew this is where I belonged!

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If you’re interested in being out in the field meeting with local merchants in person, check out our available Outside Sales roles!


Getting to Know Groupon Phoenix: Account Executive Patte Waddell

By
at April 27th, 2016

Last year, we circled up the wagons and headed to the southwest to open up a new sales office in Phoenix, Arizona. Today’s interview features Patte Waddell, a member of our Sales team who joined us from an extensive background in Sales and loves the strong management and teamwork of the Phoenix office.

Groupon Phoenix Sales Patte

What brought you to Groupon? I used to work at the University of Phoenix, where I was for 12 years. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in that sector or move elsewhere. My sister’s daughter-in-law was working here, and she raved about it. I’ve always enjoyed using Groupon, so I came in and interviewed. I love to talk and I love the product, so here I am!

How does Sales at Groupon differ from previous companies you’ve worked at? The students I used to work with at University of Phoenix knew they needed an education, so the sales aspect wasn’t challenging. Here at Groupon, you consult with local business owners to see how they can benefit from the product depending on their business needs. As a customer, I always bought Groupons to try new places. I know from a consumer point that it is needed, and it’s up to me to meet with the merchant to showcase the benefits. It’s great to experience it from both sides!

What makes selling Groupon to local businesses unique? All businesses need Groupon to some extent. I’ve been to a lot of the type of industries that I am calling, so I can predict what their needs are. Most of the businesses I work with are small and medium sized, and the world is hard out there. From camera shops, to massage parlors, to restaurants…we can help! Whether a business is looking to gain new customers or get some great marketing, it is a remarkable assistance.

What are you excited to accomplish this year? I want to bring on bigger merchants, that have locations nationwide. I love working with smaller sized businesses, but the big prize is in the larger size corporations. My manager has been helping me locate the opportunity, and it’s up to me to make it work.

What do you attribute to your success here? Coming into this job, I didn’t really know how to sell – I was far more an account manager. Here, every single manager helps you, whether you report to them or not. My manager Josh has reinvigorated me and I’m here to stay. People don’t quit jobs they quit managers, and Josh has helped me realize that. With the help of my team, the sky is the limit.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory? Our grand opening was amazing. The team from Chicago was in town, news reporters, etc. I love that I am working for a company that is so supportive, and that day symbolized it!

What was your biggest Sales accomplishment at Groupon? I closed 7 contracts in a week and a half! Three out of four of those merchants are located here in Phoenix, where I live, so it will be great to actually oversee their success. I love helping!

Favorite merchant story? I was talking to Sidewalk Cafe in Newport Beach. I talked to him hundreds of times. He always pushed me on margin, and always told me he was ready to go. Then I would call to finalize it, and then he would be busy. Once I called, and when I got pushback again, I asked to talk to his wife. I knew that she was the major roadblock, and I took it upon myself to work with her too to get the job done!

What’s the culture of the Phoenix office like? The culture represents teamwork. Everyone is always willing to help…every rep, every manager. People here don’t just care about their success, but rather the success of the office. People go out of their way to show you that they care. It’s a great bunch of people unlike other places I’ve worked. I love it.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Phoenix is hiring! Check out our current openings here or watch our Phoenix video to learn more from the reps themselves. 


Working in Groupon Seattle: Krassimir Dimov, Software Development Engineer

By
at April 19th, 2016

What’s it like to work as an Engineer at Groupon in Seattle? Krassimir Dimov, a Software Development Engineer, gives us the scoop. (And some nice new office pics!)

krassimir dimov seattle groupon 2

What brought you to Groupon from your previous company? I moved to Groupon from Amazon Web Services. It was a magnificently executed recruiting effort that started with a cold call. I had several meetings with the team leadership; we talked about vision, execution plan, team needs, and my fit. I was looking for leadership that inspires, impacts, and provides ample learning opportunities. These are the two questions I always ask when approached with new opportunities:

  • What about my background stood out to you?
  • What will I learn in the next year?

What do you do here? I am a Software Engineer on the Relevance team. As I like to describe it, we are the team that chooses the deals you see and the order in which you see them. This includes the content of web, mobile, touch, email, and notifications. The work is very interesting; it involves data mining, machine learning, real-time streaming and analysis, and a massive number of requests. We have teams of specialists in different areas: Applied Research, Data Science, and Infrastructure. We all work very closely together.

I am lucky to be in a position to contribute to our service at an architectural level while still spending a good part of my time deep in code. Some of my projects in the past year include traffic shaping on the load balancer, profiling and performance optimization of several systems, a new plugin for our indexing system, traffic analysis, design and implementation of a new request fallback system, and redesign and rewrite of a release and continuous integration.

I maintain close working relationship with other Groupon teams; most are either our internal clients or vendors of our data. We work on requirements, designs, implementations, general ideas, and keeping up to date with technology.

What sort of impact do your teams have on the business? One great thing about my team’s work is that our impact is measurable. We are constantly running experiments and quantifying their impact on business. We have dashboards with trends, debriefs on the progress of every experiment, and the ability to promptly fine tune them. So, speaking fiscally, we can express the impact of each experiment with the precise lift or drop of Groupon revenue.

There is also the engineering impact. We own one of the busiest services in Groupon: virtually all real-time customer traffic results in calls to Relevance, plus email and mobile notifications. We have engineers experienced in designing, developing, and delivering highly available, scalable, and reliable services using the newest frameworks, libraries, and tools.

Just to give you an idea of the level of talent I get to work with every day, two members of the Relevance team’s papers were accepted as full-length papers at IEEE Big Data 2015 (plus oneposter), and we had a presentation at Elastic{ON} 2015 with a deep dive into the custom scripting we do in Elasticsearch scoring and ranking.

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What’s important for an engineering candidate to know about Tech at Groupon?

  1. We are still a young and fast-paced company. Engineers here have a keen sense of ownership; even at junior levels we expect of them to own a task, carry it to completion, and maintain it. Out of all the companies on my resume, Groupon has the fastest time to market.
  2. We have well-established and solid engineering practices. We can teach you how to develop a well performing, scalable, production-ready software and how to test, release, and monitor it.
  3. At Groupon you will be exposed to a wide variety of open-source software. An important part of fast delivery is knowing what’s available, evaluating and choosing the best tool for the job, and recognizing what we can contribute back to the open source community.
  4. Groupon is a company where distributed development works. My team sits in Palo Alto, Seattle, Chicago, Santiago, Berlin, and Austin. We work on the same code base, do code reviews across offices, and regularly jump into a video conference for a quick “in-person” meeting.

Anything else you want to add? We recently moved into our brand new Seattle office, which is in the second tallest building in Seattle with amazing 360° views. Last week I had a video interview with a candidate and at the end I hauled my laptop to the window to give them a glimpse of the scenery. I’m not the only one impressed…after the move everyone brought friends and families and there were a ton of people staring out the windows or taking pictures. Because we anticipate growing the office here, we have many open seats for future Groupon employees. And as an added bonus, our gaming rooms are sound proof, allowing you to play without disturbing anyone’s work.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. We’re looking to add tech talent to our Engineering teams in Seattle; check out our current openings!



Getting to Know Groupon Phoenix: Chris “Magoo” McGeough

By
at March 30th, 2016

Last year, we circled up the wagons and headed to the southwest to open up a new sales office in Phoenix, Arizona. Today’s interview features Chris, an Account Executive who joined from the golf industry with a determination to make the most out of the opportunity.

 

Chris Groupon Phoenx

What brought you to Groupon? The new office…new opportunity and new start. I shop on Groupon Goods so much anyway and thought it was an amazing chance for a new career with Groupon coming out to Phoenix.

What makes selling Groupon to local businesses unique? The fact that you can personalize a campaign around what their specific goals are. Each business is different and in turn so are their goals. I spend my days consulting and it’s so exciting to hear about what is important to different businesses in different places.

What are you excited to accomplish this year? Not only to grow my skills, but to help grow those around me. We’ve made such strides in this first year that there’s no ceiling on what’s to come this year. I know that there’s a ton to still do here to get to where we are going, and I’m excited to be involved.

What do you attribute to your success at Groupon? Management. As tough as things get here, the management team do a fantastic job of giving reps the opportunity to be successful. We have somewhat of a lax culture here, and occasionally it can be taken advantage of. Managers steer the ship, and we keep it moving.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory? Being in a room with 20 people on iPhones with those horrible ear buds, selling Groupon, and having a darn blast while doing it. If that’s not growth, I don’t know what is.

What was your biggest Sales accomplishment at Groupon? Closing Pier 98 Sushi in Newark, California. The restaurant is off of the beaten path, however we were able to put something in place to target new customers. The biggest win here is that because of her success with Groupon, she was able to build an outdoor patio. It’s been an amazing success story.

If you could combine your two favorite animals into one animal, what would you call it? A platypus and a rhino. I’d call it a rhinopus. The animal would be out of this world.

How does it feel to be both new to Groupon and know you’re helping to build out a brand new office as well? Motivating. This opportunity was amazing; I took it by the reigns and have been here for almost a year. I used to work in the golf industry for over 4 years, which is a way different industry. There are people here from all different professional backgrounds, but we make it work and it works very well.

What’s the culture of the Phoenix office like? Intense, but in a good way. It’s one big family here. Everyone wants to help. It’s like everyone’s family together on Christmas day. Christmas never ends here.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Phoenix is hiring! Check out our current openings here or watch our Phoenix video to learn more from the reps themselves.