Tech Spotlight: Pedro, Geekfest Evangelist in Seattle

By
at February 1st, 2016

Title: Director of Engineering, Consumer Experience Groupon Getaways

Location: Seattle

Start Date: December 2010


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Can you talk about Geekfest? What is it? Geekfest is a technology-agnostic software developer meetup that was launched by Obtiva back in 2007. After Groupon acquired Obtiva in 2011, the tradition continued in Chicago. In July of 2014, Geekfest Seattle started and in November of 2015 we kicked off efforts to start Geekfest Palo Alto.

Geekfest is an open meetup where you can hear from both Groupon speakers as well as external folk. We always invite people outside Groupon to join us in person or to watch live stream on our YouTube Channel.

What has your involvement been in Geekfest? When I first moved to Seattle, I felt there was a lack of learning opportunities in the office. After some time I decided to launch Geekfest in Seattle; this came to fruition in June of 2013 after I was able to lock in our first speaker. This wasn’t an easy task, considering I had only recently moved to Seattle and didn’t have many connections yet. We initially started running Geekfest Seattle once a month and we run it twice a month now that we have more than 1,000 members.

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What interesting Engineering challenges are you tackling here at Groupon? There are never-ending challenges here, but my favorite one is helping my teams and individuals grow and develop professionally. This means many things, whether it’s inspiring them to tackle challenges or helping them focus on important projects by minimizing distractions and blockers.

What do you love most about working here? I have been here for more than 5 years, so it’s always nice to look back and see how much we have achieved. The thing that I love the most—the one that keeps me coming back to work everyday—is my team. Their passion, their openness to new challenges, and their willingness to work together in order to make everyone a better Engineer is inspiring.

What advice do you have for people interested in working at Groupon, especially in Engineering? What’s unique about Groupon Engineering is that no two teams are alike. However, one thing that’s consistent across the board is each team’s direct impact on the business. Groupon is open to trying new things with the understanding that there is value in learning from mistakes. It’s a place where you can directly shape the culture around you all while facing unique technology challenges and working with incredibly smart people.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

a space cat watching

people’s group buying power

revolution starts

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Check out our Getaways Engineering openings here!


Tech Spotlight: Groupon Culture & Inclusivity Brought Sarah Kim Back Full-Time

By
at December 29th, 2015

Name: Sarah Kim

Title: Software Development Engineer

Start date: July 2015

Sarah Groupon Engineer

“Look at me and all my monitors!”

You were previously an intern here; how did your internship impact your decision to come back to Groupon as a full-time employee? I had such a great time at my internship on Pull in Chicago. I think the biggest influence was the people I met during my internship. As a new graduate, I knew I would be able to grow and learn as much as I could anywhere I went, but I wanted to work somewhere I felt comfortable among my coworkers. I also knew I wanted to be in the Bay Area to expose myself to as much tech as possible (and maybe for the weather :P), so I decided to relocate to the Palo Alto office.

Can you talk about your team and team culture? Layout Service is a core platform team that supports all of Groupon’s front-end teams. When you go on Groupon.com, there’s a header, a footer, and the content is in the middle. We serve the header and the footer; other front-end teams serve the middle. We provide the bread for the Groupon sandwich, if you will. This means we interact with a lot of different people on a daily basis. To top it all off, due to how large our scale is, we support over 20 countries. It’s only fitting that with such a global impact, we have a global team. We have two developers in Palo Alto, CA; a QA in Denver, CO; a developer in Santiago, Chile; two developers in Berlin, Germany; and a project manager in Chicago. This provides for 8 a.m. meetings whenever all of us need to meet for those of us in Pacific time. It can surely be painful to get out of bed, but in the end working with Layout Service is worth it. Our team is expanding soon with another developer to join us in Palo Alto next year, raising our female:male ratio to exactly 50% once she joins.

Are there any notable differences between being an intern and a full-time employee? The biggest difference is the time. With 10 weeks during my internship, I only had so much time to learn about the code base and gain experience. However, as a full-time employee I started out doing similar things from my internship, but as I continued working I became more and more knowledgeable about our codebase and am slowly opening myself up to be a face of Layout Service. I feel confident in answering for the team when people aren’t available, and it’s definitely something I don’t think I could have done as an intern.


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How have you grown professionally since working here? I’ve learned to become more confident in my work. I’ve struggled with impostor syndrome a lot, but the more time I spend on our codebase and our team, the more confident I become with myself as a developer. Also, because I’m on a platform team that interacts with so many other teams, I’ve learned to communicate effectively with so many different people.

As a woman in Computer Science, how do you feel as an employee here? I feel really safe working here at Groupon. I’ve heard many harsh comments doubting my skills as a developer throughout college years, and I have yet to hear like that here. For many women in computer science, impostor syndrome hits a lot harder due to many stigmas in the industry. I used this as an opportunity to buckle down and work harder; to show everyone that I am an effective developer. Here at Groupon, I’ve met so many other women in engineering (Hi Melody, Monica, and Jena!), and it’s so encouraging to be in such a safe environment that pushes so hard for equality.

Anything else? Outside of work, I enjoy dancing to K-Pop, listening to music, and binge watching TV shows. Oh! and I have a blog where I talk about a lot of things I mentioned here. 

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Want to work with Sarah and her global team? Apply here!

 


Employee Spotlight: Senior Sales Trainer Patrick Connor

By
at December 28th, 2015

Title: Senior Sales Trainer
Start Date: November 2010

Patrick Groupon Senior Sales TrainerWhat did you do before Groupon? Before working at Groupon I worked in radio. I loved using my voice for communication and found a home in radio doing everything from Top 40 to Sports Talk. Sadly, in 2008 the radio business took a hit when the economy crashed. After trying to stick it out for another year or so, I moved back to Chicago to be closer to family and got my first sales job out by O’Hare.

What brought you here? While working my first sales job, a number of people I worked with left the company and started working at Groupon. They told me how amazing it was to work there and I soon found myself applying.  Just a few short weeks later I was walking into Groupon for my very first day of work.

You got to work on a few different ventures; what have you learned from being a part of different projects? I have been lucky enough to work on a number of amazing things here at Groupon: Groupon Channels, Groupon Now, Scheduler, Payments, Gnome, etc. What I have learned from those experiences is that you have to be able to adapt to change and look on the bright side of things even when it’s hard to find the silver lining. Life is too short to dwell on the negative; I look back at all those experiences and think of all the amazing things I learned and the people I met and wouldn’t change it for anything.

How do you apply your extensive Groupon knowledge and experiences to training our new Sales reps? When I see new hires walk in wide-eyed about working at a place like Groupon, it is up to us as a training department to show them that they should be that excited about the opportunity that lies ahead of them. What I can show them is that if you work hard and treat others with respect, you can put yourself in a position where you can work on amazing things and position yourself for the job you want. Showing people that there are options at Groupon and different ways to go about your career gives people hope they will find something perfect for them.

What do you attribute to your success here? I attribute a lot of my success to my attitude and passion for Groupon. I walk in everyday loving the company I work for and the people that I work with. It’s a lot easier to work really hard when you are doing a job you love with people you love to be around. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have the right attitude and treat people right.

Anything else? Groupon is a place of wonderful opportunity and if you are looking for an organization that will challenge you to be the best version of yourself, there aren’t many better places to work than Groupon.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. We’re currently hiring Inbound Sales Representatives and Business Development Associates in Chicago if you’re interested in starting or continuing your Sales career at Groupon!


Tech Spotlight: Noah Spitzer-Williams, Senior Getaways Product Lead in Seattle

By
at December 16th, 2015

Groupon Getaways is the travel arm of our business, connecting consumers with hotels, BnB’s, and resorts across the globe. Today, Noah Spitzer-Williams chats about how much impact Engineers have on the business and also sheds light on the quirkier side of Groupon.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 9.41.40 AMSo what do you do? I lead the Consumer Experiences team for Getaways, Groupon’s travel business. We sell almost $1B worth of hotel and tour package deals a year. My team obsesses about building great experiences for travelers in a dozen countries across both our web and mobile platforms. We’re “full stack” in that we build everything from the user interfaces to the backend services.

My favorite thing about product management at Groupon is how much exposure we get to all elements of the business. In a typical week we’ll work with folks in engineering, design, business development, marketing, customer support, and analytics. We have impact on everything from the “why and what” to the “how and when.”

What did you do before Groupon? Immediately before Groupon, I ran an action sports video editing startup. We weren’t financially successful but the experience was phenomenal. I learned how much hustle it takes to make it on your own. The Cinderella stories of successful founders you read in the news are not flukes. I also learned that I love building products much more than dealing with finances and legal documents.

What was it that made you want to join Groupon? Long story short, I had already done both the big company and the startup. I wanted something in between that had the resources of a big company but the entrepreneurial attitude of a startup. I also wanted to work in travel. Getaways was the perfect fit. It was a small team, but they were hungry and had big ambitions. Groupon itself was only 4 years old yet it was making billions all over the world. In effect, Getaways was a startup within a startup.

What’s unique about the work Groupon Engineers do? There aren’t many companies that provide engineers with as much opportunity for impact as Groupon. Engineers here work side-by-side with product managers, designers, and folks from the business. Our teams are extremely lean and we help our engineers hit the ground running. For example, we have a friendly competition to see how fast new engineers can deploy code to actual customers. The current record is around 48 hours, held by a college hire.

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Given Groupon’s relatively young age, we don’t have archaic legacy codebases lying around. This allows us to work with the latest and greatest technologies such as Node, Elasticsearch, and Swift. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of duct tape around when you move this fast, but we work hard to not let it slow us down.

Twice a year the company hosts a week-long hackathon called GEEKon. GEEKon gives our teams the chance to innovate bottoms-up and unleash their creativity and passion for collaboration on new and useful solutions for the company. This year my team shipped Getaways Explorer, a Chrome plugin that displays a beautiful travel deal every time you open a new tab. It was an awesome experience to be part of a multidisciplinary team that went from idea to shipped product so quickly.

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How is your role/team different now than it was 3 years ago? The biggest difference is the product and engineering teams have grown from a dozen to about 50 employees. The scope and scale of our impact is much bigger. It’s great in that it gives you a better means of competing in the market, but it also brings higher expectations and some growing pains.

We also have a much clearer vision for where we want to take Groupon and Getaways. We want Groupon to be a daily habit for everyone, whether you’re looking for great deals to buy, eat, or experience something. Getaways will simply help you to do this outside your hometown.

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How does Groupon’s culture resonate with you? Groupon is a quirky place and we all enjoy a good laugh. Whether it’s growing mustaches for Movember or sending mildly inappropriate GIFs in our vacation mails, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We make sure to hire people who will embrace our culture and help us evolve it.

On the tech side, my favorite cultural aspect is how teams work with each other. For example, if you’re dependent on a team that doesn’t have the bandwidth to build what you need, they’ll often invite your team to write the code yourself and they’ll review the work. That’s rare in companies our size and it allows us to (mostly) avoid dependency hell.

Anything else you want to add?  Last year Groupon sent me to my 31st country on my 31st birthday. A group of us went to Chennai, India to work with some of our partners out there. It was an incredible experience and as a proud carnivore, I came home with a new appreciation for vegetarian cuisine.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If you’re a fan of the movie “Inception” and want to work for a startup within a startup, check out our current Getaways Tech openings: Senior Product Manager – Consumer Experience, Senior Software Engineer – Front End, Software Development Engineer – Back End.


Tech Spotlight: Santosh Ameti Tackles Travel in Seattle

By
at December 14th, 2015

Name: Santosh Ameti

Location: Seattle

Title: Senior Software Development Manager

Start Date: June 2015

Santosh Groupon EngineerWhat brought you to Groupon from Amazon and Microsoft? In a short span of 7 years, Groupon has pioneered a new industry and remained the dominant leader in the space. The potential the company has and the growth it has exhibited thus far is exemplary. Local is very critical and important for any neighborhood and in the era of internet taking over physical stores, Groupon is doing a wonderful job  helping local merchants improve their visibility and increase foot traffic. This has created a new way of efficiently spending marketing dollars for any small business shop and in turn having a direct positive impact on their business.

Groupon is a great marketing engine to get foot falls into any local store with minimal cost. The potential the company has is tremendous; what we have done so far is really a drop in the bucket in this space and there is still a ton to achieve. All of these challenges at such a massive scale are very exciting.

What do you work on and what does your team do? I manage the Inventory Platform for Getaways. My team focuses on creating a generic platform that can scale across geographies and meet the growing demands of Groupon Getaways. We have various types of travel offerings from diversified sources across the globe; these are consumed by various systems to present to our consumers. It’s a great deal of detail one needs to incorporate to make the same solution work across different countries with minimal or no modifications. We focus on building the next generation platform that enables us to provide our customers with a wide variety of travel deals and bundle it with our amazing local deals.

Can you describe the culture here? There are two things to call out: one is the people and the other is the environment. It’s a vibrant workplace filled with enthusiastic people. Groupon has an amazingly fast-paced environment and yet still provides a great work life balance. The environment encourages us to innovate and keep ourselves up to date with the latest and greatest in the technology world. People here are smart, enthusiastic, and collaborate with each other instead of competing; they are approachable and always available to extend their helping hand.

What’s unique about working on Getaways? One unique thing about travel is it’s global yet still local to the region. We are placed in a strategic way to extend the local relationships we have with travel and offer a complete solution to our customers. Getaways started about 3 years ago when we realized that our customers were interested in travel deals. Within a short span it became a key growing business and remains a key focus for the company. We are working on extending the solutions we built for the US to global countries and improve the selection for our customers.

What’s challenging about working with travel and what’s exciting about it? I believe there are several challenges in the travel space to tackle and we have a chance to create a great solution for our customers. Today you have to visit multiple websites to plan travel, read reviews, reserve activities…it’s a time consuming activity. With our great partnerships we have the potential to be the one-stop place for all travel needs.

Anything else? Outside work I like to travel and try different cuisines (I’m vegetarian!) :)

I write poems whenever I’m in the mood and have self-published a kindle book. I like playing games indoor and outdoor and am an ardent follower of Cricket.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Interested in working with Santosh on Getaways challenges? He’s actively looking for an Engineer and Engineering Manager, both Backend for Getaways.


Groupon Tech Spotlight: iOS Engineer Nicolas Yuste Tirados

By
at December 7th, 2015

Name: Nicolas Yuste

Location: Seattle

Title: iOS Engineer

IMG_2907You came to Groupon through Blink; can you talk about Blink and what it was like being part of an acquisition? I was living in Madrid working for Blink (Blink by Groupon). We had about 30 people in the office and it was awesome; everyone was super young and it was one of the best working environments I’ve ever been in. I was there for a year and will remember it forever. I was only 23 when I was hired and it was my first real job as an Engineer.

We had an awesome time there but we also worked really hard. I remember those days with pizza in the office at 9:30pm… Our bosses (Miguel Ortega, Rebeca Minguela, and Alvaro Febrel) did an awesome job and got an agreement with Groupon. After a year working with Blink, Groupon acquired the company and the three bosses and four engineers moved to Seattle to work on the Getaways team. It was a really fast process!

Spain’s work environment is really different from the US and it took a while to adapt to the new environment. Anyway, we did really well and here we are. I am working with an awesome team and I am living in an awesome place. The Getaways Team is really cool, there are a lot people from all over the world: Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Chile, China, India, Korea, El Salvador, Brazil, and Taiwan. This makes both the team and the office great.

So what do you do? I was the first member of the Getaways Mobile Team and we built the Getaways standalone app from scratch. It was really challenging but we did awesome work and finally shipped one year later in December 2014. After launching the Getaways app, the Getaways Mobile Team (3 devs and 2 QA per platform) started working on the main Groupon app. We made a trip to our Palo Alto office to learn from the main Mobile team how the app was built and the foundation of the project. After that two weeks of bootcamp, we started to build features related to Getaways and that is what I have been doing the past year. I have grown a lot and I am also working in a really big project not related to Getaways. The Getaways Mobile team is now essentially part of the main Mobile team based out of Palo Alto.

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Can you talk about the technology you work with? Being a mobile person means working with the latest technologies. I am an iOS Engineer and I get to work with the latest features that Apple launches. I have written code in Objective C and Swift for all the possible platforms: iPhone and iPad, Apple Watch, and I have been playing with tvOS lately.

What do you love about working here? I wake up every morning wanted to go to the office, isn’t that enough? I love to be in the office with all my peers; they are awesome and we have so much fun. I am working on one of the biggest apps in the world. I love the fact that what I do is touched by millions of fingers around the world…that makes me feel really grateful.

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Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Click here to view our current Getaways openings in Chicago and Seattle!


Employee Spotlight: From Sydney to Chicago, Niamath Talks Finance

By
at November 30th, 2015

Name: Niamath

Title: Senior Financial Analyst, North America FP&A

Start Date: March 2015

Niamath Groupon SFAYou were at GE [in Australia!] prior to joining Groupon. Aside from wanting to move back to the States, what were some other factors in your job search? Besides wanting to be closer to family, I really wanted a change of pace. The work I was doing at the time didn’t really align with my long-term vision for my career, and I didn’t work directly in corporate finance which was my preferred function.  After being in two different leadership programs within GE for 2+ years, I knew I still wanted to be in a learning environment, which typically correlates with how long one is expected to stay in a role. The longest I had been in a role at GE was six months and the shortest was one month. In every role, I was expected to get up to speed extremely quickly and be able to contribute within the first few days. I knew I still wanted that level of learning in my next role. Lastly, while I appreciated the discipline and structure GE provided, I knew that my career would be better served—at least in the earlier stages—being in an environment where the wheel was not necessarily already built. When you are asked to do something that no one else in the firm has already done is when true learning can happen.

When did Groupon get on your radar and when did you know this is somewhere you wanted to work? As luck would have it, Groupon found me! Around the time I was looking for my new role, Lauren reached out to me to describe some of the opportunities available in Groupon’s Finance organization. After meeting the Groupon crew, three things immediately stuck out to me:

  1. the flat finance organization
  2. increased responsibility at the junior level
  3. the collegial and collaborative culture

I remember thinking to myself at the time that this could be the place where I’d work on some really cool, impactful projects that are highly visible to the senior leaders and where I can actually be friends with my colleagues. After the in-person interview with the team, I was immediately drawn to the friendly culture and the challenges that the team was currently facing. At that point, I knew I wanted to work at Groupon.

How does working here challenge you? In my eight months here, I have already done two roles, parts of a third role, worked on multiple projects, and have worked for multiple managers. The constant change is challenging, sure, but I think it really drives learning, especially given that I am used to switching roles no more than every six months. Specifically, I was recently involved with our restructuring efforts across the firm. I think the compressed timeline, the breadth of the project, and the wide audience (internal and external) really underscored the visibility as well as the intensity of the project. Nonetheless, I learned about different restructuring laws across the world and honed my modeling skills.

What has surprised you most about working here? Even though the fast-paced culture was emphasized to me from the beginning, I was still surprised at how fast we move. Honestly, when I first started it was a bit frustrating when in the morning everyone seemingly agrees on one thing but by the end of the day, assumptions change and with it so must the deliverable. The culture I was accustomed to did not have constant changes on the fly. However, over time I learned that things at Groupon do really change that quickly; within a matter of hours you can find out if a recently instituted campaign is working with our customers, and depending on expectations, that could change the course of your deliverable or work. This took some getting used to, but I can firmly say that I am not surprised at whatever pivot we have to do because I know—more often than not at Groupon—it is due to better information.

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in joining Groupon Finance, or maybe hasn’t considered Groupon as an option? Almost every firm says that they move fast, but rarely does that really ring true across the organization. At Groupon, change is constant as is the real world, which is why I think it is a great driver for learning. So, be open to change and even welcome it: you are doing yourself a disservice if there isn’t change, whether that be in your role, project, deliverable, etc. Information isn’t constant, so your role shouldn’t be either.

Anything else? I am a huge Michigan sports fan (one of three so far to bleed maize and blue!) and have been to at least one home football game in Ann Arbor for seven years now. I expect that streak to continue at least until my kids graduate! Go Blue!

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Check out our Senior Finance Analyst opening!


Groupon Engineering Ambassadors Workshop

By
at November 23rd, 2015

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

  1. To never stop striving for excellence
  2. 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.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Interested in working with these passionate folks? Check out our current Engineering openings!