Katrina Bryce – Business Development Manager in Sydney

Katrina Bryce – Business Development Manager in Sydney

KATRINA BRYCE

Business Development Manager
Sydney, Australia
Joined: 2016

This former Rugby champion and consummate salesperson has her eyes on the prize – working hard so she can play hard.  Katrina loves working for this quirky and inspirational company.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

I have three:

  1. Walking into the office one morning to find a riding blender smoothie bike in the kitchen.
  2. Meeting and hearing Tristan Miller at this year’s conference. This man ran 52 marathons in 47 countries in one year. It was such an amazing story to hear.
  3. I also loved Friday afternoon trivia we had for a short time, which always brought the LOLs.

Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it? What does a typical day look like?

I am a Business Development Manager, or as I call it, a hunter. I work within the beauty health and wellness, leisure, food and beverage and services space. I love that it’s so versatile and never gets boring.

What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve worked on?

A particular merchant I was chasing (hunting) for over a year finally signed. I would hear from him for a few days and then wouldn’t hear from him for a few months, then he would come back to me again…this went on for 15 months. I normally walk away but he kept popping back up. Persistence pays!

Who or what inspires you?

Richard Branson. A leader needs to be able to take risks and Richard Branson is an explorer and a ground-breaking entrepreneur on so many levels. He has created an organization that can run effectively without his presence. That is the sign of a great leader. He sets goals that exceed expectations and achieves them.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

That is had a very relaxed atmosphere and was a place for long-term growth.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

By signing high-quality merchants and making sure they provide our customers with great choices so that they continue coming back to our site to purchase.

Describe the proudest moment you’ve had at Groupon.

Signing Cuckoo German Restaurant in Melbourne over the phone. This merchant had been pursued by a few Groupies over the years, and I was the one who finally got them on board! The merchant was reluctant to sign as they had been around for over 60 years and were already successful. I managed to convince them to run an afternoon tea and dinner campaign and it managed to sell out (it made me over $17k) and generated the merchant $75k in just four days. I finished up on 243% to target last month (April 2018) with some of my other deals doing well, too!

Have you won any awards?

I won the Commonwealth Games gold medal!  And my team won the Sales World Cup in 2017.

What is your favorite conference room?

Fair Dinkum!

What do your parents think you do?

My mum asks me daily who has bought my deals and what I have been up to at “Scoopon.” I’ve tried correcting her many times but she still gets it wrong…whoops! She thinks the customers are buying the actual deals directly from me.

Where were you before you joined Groupon? How did you get here?

I’ve worked in sales for eight years now. I was a sales manager at one of my last gigs and have worked in both the insurance and IT sales industries as well. I had bought Groupons for years before I started working here so wanted to work for a company that I believed in…which lead me to apply.   🙂

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work? 

I love to travel a lot…I’ve been all over the world. I enjoy tanning at the beach and going to the gym. I find enjoyment having cocktails with my friends and listening to music. I play netball and I wakeboard.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be and why?

I would want to work as a Wall Street investment banker. That intense environment would be hectic, but only for one day… I wouldn’t want to live at my desk.   😉

What’s your favorite local business?

Illuminate Cosmetic Medicine in Newtown!

Your role probably exists at other companies aside from Groupon…so what makes your role at Groupon unique? 

I believe in what I am selling. I love Groupon and I love that a merchant doesn’t have to physically pay to work with us until a voucher is sold.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I was an exchange student in Canada at the age of 15 and was selected and played for the Provence Ontario (state) in women’s rugby.

Jordan Eselevsky – Manager, Merchandising Strategy & Planning

Jordan Eselevsky – Manager, Merchandising Strategy & Planning

JORDAN ESELEVSKY

Manager, Merchandising Strategy & Planning
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2017

Groupon is full of a lot of passionate, hardworking, quirky individuals and Jordan is no exception. He talks about how he connects users with pertinent deals on our site as well as his desire to take home the gold in his department’s Quarterly “Dip Off.”

Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it?

I am in charge of merchandising strategy for the Things to Do vertical. In a nutshell, once the sales and corporate partnerships teams close deals to sell on our site, it is up to my team to take the deals to our users. This involves strategizing who we should show these deals to, when we should target these users, and what platform makes the most sense (email, push notification, etc.). We know that our users’ time is valuable. Based on what we know about our users’ engagement with Groupon, we use data to serve the most pertinent deals for them at the most relevant occasion. The better we do our job, the more users will continue engaging with our platform, being inspired by our great content, and discovering new and exciting local businesses.

What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve worked on?

It has been a work in progress for Groupon to make the transition in customers’ minds from a daily deal site to a marketplace. This is something that all teams are working on in their own way. For example, in the Things to Do business, we have a growing number of live events (sports and concerts) that are not discounted. Inventory like this allows our platform to become more all-encompassing when a user is looking for things to do in their city and they can use Groupon as a one-stop shop for all of their options. However, we must continue to work to clearly distinguish market rate pricing from discounted in order to maintain user trust throughout this transition.

There are a lot of amazing Groupon stories. What’s your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment—which is a never-ending process—is continuously improving the efficiency of our Things to Do targeted merchandising. We only get to engage with most of our customers for a few seconds a day. Because of this, we have to do a great job curating and personalizing the inventory we show them to get them hooked and hopefully engaged enough to click through and come to our site to browse more. Part of this effort has been creating campaigns that effectively read signals that users give us with their Groupon behavior. This allows us to serve both relevant deals that the customer may know about and inspire our customers with new content and occasions to use Groupon.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Deals on deals on deals —

Inspiring our customers —

Save money all day

Tell us about your involvement with Groupon Volunteers!

I have participated in two volunteer events so far at Groupon, but am definitely looking to do more this year. It always feels good to give back and help those in need. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you devote some of your time and resources to volunteering; just the other day we packed 7,000 lbs of sweet potatoes in just 2.5 hours! In addition, it’s always a fun team-building activity and allows us to create bonds outside of work.

Your role probably exists at other companies aside from Groupon…so what makes your role at Groupon unique? 

In my career so far, I have always worked in the retail/consumer sector. I love getting products to market, showcasing and curating assortments for different user segments, and using customer data to fuel decisions. Groupon has been my first step into eCommerce, which opens up an entirely new world of merchandising. Groupon is able to hyper-target customers and create different user experiences, which I was excited to learn about. Also, I like that Groupon was, and continues to be, an innovator in their field and a true leader in the experiences/local marketplace. As a millennial, I value experiences and community, and Groupon is really in the business of getting these types of things out to the world.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

My work is very closely tied to Groupon’s mission. Some of our team’s key goals are user engagement and purchase frequency. Inherently, through our merchandising, we are hoping that we show users the best content that Groupon has to offer for them. With this, even if they don’t make a purchase that day, they have a greater awareness of the types of businesses that Groupon works with and the money they can save by shopping on Groupon. As a result, they will hopefully get into the habit of “checking Groupon first.”

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

Before working at Groupon, I had the impression of 2008 Groupon: a daily email with great random deals from your neighborhood. Boy, was I wrong. I quickly learned that Groupon has evolved so much from the early days. We truly offer our users a unique combination of value and convenience by providing a marketplace with offerings ranging from your local pizza joint to tickets to the Cubs game to a guided tour of Greece.

What’d you do before Groupon? How’d you get here?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. For college, I went out to the west coast and earned my business degree from USC. After college, I was looking to come back to the Midwest to be closer to friends and family. I started my career at Target HQ in Minneapolis and worked there for four years. I had a few different roles, ranging from inventory/vendor management for the candles department (Pumpkin Cheesecake is my favorite), to winding down the supply chain for Target Pharmacy after it was acquired by CVS. I moved into a role at Tyson Foods for six months, calling on Target as a Category Manager for lunchmeat and protein snacking. Finally, my wife and I decided to pack our bags and move back to Chicago.

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work?

My favorite way to spend my free time is traveling. I have been to 35 countries, including a 10-week trip to Australia/Southeast Asia/Japan right before starting at Groupon. I have found that there is nothing like experiencing different cultures, history, and (most importantly) food scenes. In addition to travel, I like playing, watching, and doing anything at all related to sports. I like to ride my bike by Lake Michigan in the summer. Finally, I am a huge lover of any and all sauces/condiments. I don’t discriminate, but if I had to pick favorites it would definitely be chipotle ranch and hummus.

Who or what inspires you?

What keeps me inspired by the work that I do is that the projects that I work on and decisions our teams make actually impact our communities and people that I know every day. Almost everyone has had their own Groupon experience and there is a real love for the brand. I love talking with friends and family and hearing about the latest Groupons that they have bought, how it got them out of their comfort zone, got them to try a new business, or just saved them a ton of money. These types of conversations remind me that I can see real-time results for the work that I am doing.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

I think it has to be the Quarterly “Dip Offs” that we have in our department. To start, I am very passionate about dips, sauces, and condiments. So, nothing could be better than stuffing our faces once a quarter with a variety of 20+ dips and ultimately voting on a champion. I’m coming for the crown at our next one.

Editor’s note: Check out Neville Horton’s story if you can’t get enough of condiments.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be and why?

I would be a hot dog vendor at Wrigley Field. I’d get to work outside—at baseball’s mecca—selling an all-American classic.

What’s your favorite local business?

They’ve expanded more and more in recent years, but in my heart, it has to be Lou Malnati’s. The deep dish just hits the spot any day and is a true Chicago classic.

What do your parents think you do?

Mom direct quote via text: “I think you analyze the activities and experiences that Groupon sells to see what is popular or not. You try to explore and cultivate new and trendy experiences. You seek to broaden the appeal of the experiences Groupon offers by analyzing demographics and price point.” (OK, so sounds pretty accurate!)

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

While living in Minneapolis, I ran in the Minnesota Twins mascot race as Louie the Loon on two separate occasions. The first time, I lost…by a beak. The second time I came out victorious!

Kathryn Winiecki – Tax Manager

Kathryn Winiecki – Tax Manager

KATHRYN WINIECKI

Tax Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2017

What’s your favorite conference room?

The immense exposure that Kathryn’s role as a Tax Manager brings her is part of what keeps her excited to come to Groupon every day, but the #1 thing? The people! (OK and maybe team outings like Sears Tower yoga and Beyonce spin class don’t hurt, either.)

Tell us about your job as a Tax Manager!

I manage global tax compliance and reporting, which means I assist with the coordination and review of tax filings in the US and all over the world. What I love most about my job is that I get to interact with so many different people on a daily basis, whether that be here at HQ or in another country. I’ve even gotten the opportunity to practice my German (I studied it in high school and college). I am responsible for managing our global tax filings and audits, which gives me the opportunity to work with accounting, legal, and procurement teams. I’m grateful for the relationships I’ve been able to build at Groupon and the talented people I have the chance to work with daily. Tax laws are constantly changing, and Groupon is always evolving, so I’m never bored here!

Tax exists at other companies, so why Groupon? What keeps you excited to come to work every day?

Groupon is constantly changing as a business and facing new tax challenges. I enjoy the daily challenges and problem-solving that my job involves. My boss is also pretty great and truly cares about the team and our development. One of the best things about the Groupon tax team is definitely its people. We work extremely hard, but we also make sure to take the time to do fun activities together outside the office. This past year, these included (but were not limited to) yoga at the top of Sears Tower, a Beyonce-themed spin class, WhirlyBall, flag football, and a Chicago brewery bar crawl. On most Fridays after work, you can find at least a couple tax team members playing ring toss at Jerk down the street.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

In tax, it is a little more difficult to impact this habit directly. However, what the tax team does every day helps leaders plan and make the best decisions for the company. I’m also always shamelessly plugging Groupon deals to all my friends and family…

What’s your biggest accomplishment at Groupon?

My team’s biggest accomplishment last year was bringing Groupon’s US tax compliance in-house and preparing the tax returns ourselves, something that had never been done before. I know that might not sound glamorous, but I was so proud of the way the team really came together to get this done despite the challenges we faced along the way.

What do your parents think you do?

They think I crunch numbers in Excel all day without speaking to anyone.

What’d you do before Groupon? How’d you get here?

Before Groupon, I worked as a Tax Manager at a public accounting firm. After speaking with a Groupon recruiter and meeting the tax team, I knew I wanted to work here.  In just one year, I’ve been exposed to so many different tax projects and types of work. The wide range of experience is something that you can’t find at every company, and I feel it has really helped further my career in tax. The culture at Groupon also drew me in; it’s a fast-paced environment, but the people here are always willing to help each learn and grow. The people at Groupon really make it a great place to work, and I’m extremely grateful for the friendships I’ve made here.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

“Is that a cat in a spaceship?”

Tell us about your involvement with Groupon Volunteers.

I joined Groupon Volunteers in order to give back to the community and meet people from other teams at Groupon. Groupon makes it SO easy to volunteer: just sign up and show up for whatever events you’re passionate about!

What keeps you busy outside of work?

When I’m not at work, I’m probably planning my next trip, doing yoga, playing rec volleyball, cooking, or obsessing over Instagram pug puppies that I don’t own (yet).

What’s your favorite local business?

Music Box Theater: great spot for independent and classic movies.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

When I was five years old, I jumped off of a swing set and broke both of my arms at the same time.

Who or what inspires you?

My grandma inspires me because even as a woman in her eighties, she is still traveling the world. Last year, she went to Russia by herself! My wanderlust likely comes from her, and I hope to always have that sense of adventure. My next trip is to Southeast Asia in July, and I can’t wait.

Alicia Babich – Sales Training Manager, Onboarding

Alicia Babich – Sales Training Manager, Onboarding

ALICIA BABICH

Sales Training Manager, Onboarding
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2015

Having recently celebrated her 3-year Grouponiversary, Alicia reflects on her whirlwind journey at Groupon, provides super sound career advice, and shares some love for Beyoncé.

Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it?

I manage half the Sales Training & Development team: the Sales Trainers you’ll meet as a new hire to Business Development, Merchant Development, Merchant Support, Groupon+, BeautyNow, and Inbound sales. My team is also single-handedly responsible for coaching for those in Groupon Sales University: your first year or two in tenure as a salesperson here at Groupon. The people in the Sales Training & Development family are caring, creative, considerate, and an absolute gift to us all. I couldn’t be luckier.

What’d you do before Groupon? How’d you get here?

I came straight from a B.S. in Psychology and minor in Leadership Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I had volunteered for a crisis hotline for two years there by the time I graduated early and wasn’t unconvinced yet that my next step wouldn’t be medical school for psychiatry. Feeling burnt out, I wanted to do something fun, and came to Groupon as a Business Development Representative, then Sales Trainer, Senior Sales Trainer, to the role I have now just past my 3-year anniversary. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Tell us about the evolution of Sales training at Groupon. 

In January 2017, Groupon Sales University didn’t exist. We took a once-a-week 3-month program designed to ramp up current salespeople and expanded it to a 12-month curriculum designed to teach soft and hard sales skills from day 1 at our company, no matter how much or what kind of professional experience you bring to the table coming here. In January 2018, we launched our first full cycle as it stands today with our Business Development class: the best sales onboarding program in the country.

You’re a member of Women@Groupon. What do you get out of it?

Ladies helping ladies‘ is something I would wear on a t-shirt every single day and I already shout at almost everyone I know. Women’s issues abroad, domestically, and specifically empowering women to rise in the workplace are all very representative of who and why I am. I signed up for Women@Groupon during my first week and became a mentor through their program two years later, where I met one of my closest friends at Groupon now. She and I still meet and talk about skills, resumes, movies, tea, and travel, and this is one small testament to the community these groups cultivate and the incredible experiences being part of them that can really sneak up on you.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

Sales Training & Development’s insanely talented taskforce of sales slayers is the first impression salespeople have at the company and we hold the privilege and responsibility of instilling strong, strategic, and moral sales skills to our salesforce here: how to get in touch with merchants, how to have effective conversations, how to get the right deals on the site for all parties involved and how to cultivate the right relationships so that the merchants are compelled to work with us and us with them, the right way, forever.

What’s your proudest Groupon accomplishment?

The scope of your role does not define you. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be mentored by Senior Operations Project Analyst Israel Pederson when I told my boss I wanted to learn SQL as a general, professional interest. I had no coding skill. Nearly 100 1:1s, one online course, and one year later, our team can track in real-time the effects of the training we do for the first time ever, allowing us to begin to make directional decisions about how we train and to whom, thanks to SQL and teradata. My new goal is to start and get intermediate with Python by the end of this year.

“In January 2018, we launched our first full cycle as it stands today with our Business Development class: the best sales onboarding program in the country.”

Your role probably exists at other companies aside from Groupon…so what makes your role at Groupon unique? 

The chance to rise at Groupon is unparalleled. Work harder and longer, ask more questions, be humbler, admit defeat more, follow the rules more, defer to those who came before more, and do more than you were asked to and more than every single person around you, every single day. That recipe wins every single time inside these walls. And if you think you do them all, ask a candid teammate if that’s true. Then do them more.

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work? 

I volunteer for an organization called Rape Victim Advocates as a Rape Crisis Counselor: advocates are on-call for X hours each month and get dispatched to one of our partnered hospital emergency rooms any time a survivor of sexual assault is admitted, to accompany them during their entire intake and defend their legal and medical rights and fair treatment, and generally provide support face-to-face. I also love, love, love PS4, running, singing, dancing, drawing, and my MoviePass.

Who or what inspires you?

My desk is littered with quotes, lyrics, and photos from and of Beyoncé. I’m convinced my first full year with this team, my profound love for that woman is the singular thing anyone knew about my interests, which isn’t even wrong. May all of us women be strong, powerful, graceful, fearless, and supportive of other women in the professional sphere and otherwise, always.

Anne Bustamante – Strategic Account Executive

Anne Bustamante – Strategic Account Executive

ANNE BUSTAMANTE

Strategic Account Executive
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2014

It can be daunting to switch jobs as a parent, especially when you’re a mother of three. But between joining the Parents@Groupon resource group and Groupon’s flexible environment, Anne has settled into a company where she can thrive.

Tell us about your job! What do you love about what you do?

I’m a salesperson for Groupon Getaways and cultivate relationships with hoteliers in the central region of the U.S. Together, we build deals based on seasonality and performance and look to grow the relationship over time. I love that what I put into my job is what I get out of it.

So how does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

I love to travel. I have a running list of places I want to see and plan on visiting as many as I can when I have a little more time. The Getaways home page is up on my computer all day…in part because I’m always looking for new destinations to visit but also because I work in Getaways (it’s a win/win). The work we do inspires travel and as we grow I see markets expand and people looking to Groupon exclusively for the best rates and most interesting locations.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done here?

Any presentation I’ve given (or have to give)! I’m not a fan of public speaking, so that’s always my biggest challenge.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

There’s so much energy, activity, color, opportunity, and collaboration at Groupon. I noticed it when I started and still see this every day on the job.

I love that since I’ve been here I’ve never heard the statement, “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Instead, I hear “we can do that” or “let’s give it a shot!” and think it’s the best way to grow the company and that’s exciting.

Have you won any awards in your time here?

Yes! I won President’s Club in 2016.

Sales obviously exists at other companies, so why Groupon? Why not sell elsewhere?

I came here because, professionally, I’ve always worn many, many hats and I was at a place in my life where I wanted to focus on one specific profession and do that one thing really well. My experience with Groupon had always been positive and I had heard that the culture was super awesome and collaborative. I love that since I’ve been here I’ve never heard the statement, “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Instead, I hear “we can do that” or “let’s give it a shot!” and think it’s the best way to grow the company and that’s exciting.

Show us your favorite view from the office!

What do your parents think you do?

My dad owned a bicycle store for 25 years and I spent my summers and weekends working at the bike shop. I cut my teeth in sales before I could ever ride a bike. I thought my parents would say that I work with travel or that I work at Groupon (they’re subscribers so they get it!), but when I asked them they responded, “obviously we think you sell.” I think they’ll always think my job is to sell!

Speaking of parents, tell us about your involvement with Parents@Groupon!

I was co-chair of Parents@Groupon from April 2016 until December 2017 and a member of the group since I started at Groupon in 2014. I’m a mother of three and when I started at Groupon, I looked to the group as a resource and as a support system. Honestly, I was a little worried about entering such a young company with a family. What I found when I joined the group was a surprisingly large network of parents and allies and an amazing team that wanted to make Groupon a great place to work for parents.

Backing up a bit, where were you before joining Groupon and what brought you here?

My background is in the arts. After I graduated college I worked as a medical photographer in a hospital in Baltimore, MD., then in Springfield, IL. I transitioned into arts management and worked for several non-profit arts organizations throughout Chicago overseeing membership, sales, and sponsorships. One of the organizations I worked for used Groupon to sell memberships and that was my first introduction to the company. I loved the process and seeing the impact on the organization.

Where can we find you when you’re not at work?

I spend all my time out of the office with my family and dog. I love to cook and eat and I have lots of kitchen help: kids chopping, husband chatting, dog rooting.

If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

Coffee taster. I took a coffee cupping class once and while I don’t think I have the palette or experience to evaluate coffee, I would love to taste different coffees and learn about their flavors. It’s fascinating. (I was up for almost two days after the cupping class, so I think one day would have to be it!)

What’s your favorite local business?

105F – Chicago. I started going here on a Groupon a couple years ago and it’s still my favorite place for yoga.

Tell us something about you that would surprise us!

I can untangle anything!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

I have to admit, I was a huge fan of the candy pit in the enchanted forest. All that candy in the tree stump is the most random thing I’d seen in the office. I didn’t expect to see anything like it and thought I was imagining things! It was so beautiful…

Julie Szudarek – President, International

Julie Szudarek – President, International

JULIE SZUDAREK

President: International
London, UK
Joined: 2011

“Julie has a great and evolving leadership style, well suited to the complex, fast-moving, digital space of Groupon. We see Julie listening to, learning from and connecting people across the business, especially between North America and International, pushing us to become more global, more effective and more successful,” Cathy O’Grady, Senior Director of International HR

Tell us about what you do! 

I’m based in London and run the international business for Groupon. I have an amazing team who bleeds Green. We all love driving customers to merchants and providing value and discovery to customers.

What are you excited to take on in the upcoming year?

I’m excited to continue to grow and evolve the international business. I’m excited about a lot of the HR plans for 2018 which are focused on continuing to drive employee engagement at Groupon.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

We work hard every single day to find the best merchants across local, travel, goods and coupons for our customers. Local businesses are the core of our community and the work we do for these businesses is one of the reasons I love working at Groupon; I love small businesses because they offer unique things to me as a customer. I’m glad we can help them thrive and obtain new customers.

Speaking of small business, what’s your favorite local business?

In Chicago, it is a place that my kids call ‘the fire place.’  it’s a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant in Lakeview called Sakura Teppanyaki and Sushi, and it’s also a Groupon merchant.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favorite memory was doing a dance on stage at the Local All Hands in Chicago with Darren Schwartz.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen at the office?

When I was interviewing in 2011, a zombie was walking through the office. It was March, not Halloween. I’m not sure what was going on…

So, based on that experience, your first impression of Groupon was…

“Wow, this is a really crazy place.  A week feels like a day and like a year at the same time; I think there is a problem with the space-time continuum.”

What inspires you?

Seeing my kids learn and achieve new things.  My very shy 8-year-old daughter composed a song for her violin and played it in front of the whole school. It was a huge accomplishment for her!

What do your parents think you do?

Go to meetings.

What did you do before joining Groupon?

I ran revenue management and strategy at Orbitz. Aaron Cooper, currently President of North America, hired me. One day when I was on maternity leave with my 2nd daughter, I told my husband that I had to work at Groupon. Aaron called me the same day. I think the stars were aligned and it was fate that I ended up working here.

“Local businesses are the core of our community and the work we do for these businesses is one of the reasons I love working at Groupon; I love small businesses because they offer unique things to me as a customer.”

So now that you’ve been here for a while, what keeps you excited to come to work every day?

I love our value proposition, it’s very unique and one of a kind: drive new customers for merchants and save consumers money and help them discover new things.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I have 3 kids…. i’ll say no more. But seriously, I like concerts, going to the gym, and trying new restaurants.

If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

Field hand or farmer; I find things like cutting grass and doing outdoor physical labor very relaxing.

Tell us something about you that’d surprise us.

Many emails I write are completely contained within the subject line.

Karishma Patel Buford – VP of Global Talent Management

Karishma Patel Buford – VP of Global Talent Management

KARISHMA PATEL BUFORD

VP of Global Talent Management
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2016

As a global leader, I have found Karishma to proactively get to know each teammate both personally and professionally; she adapts her leadership style to meet individual needs. She also goes “hard” for her team and goes above and beyond to ensure that any obstacles in the way are broken down for their success (and the success of the initiative). She has been a tremendous add to Groupon and a great representation of someone who lives/models our Values every day. – Cassandra Black: Senior Lead, Talent and Inclusion & Diversity

Tell us about your leadership style. 

If you asked my team, I’m sure they would start and end with “driver,” which is always something to watch out for to avoid micromanaging or burning out my team in the process! I’m sure they would also say that I focus on the big picture and making an impact and that I am fearless in fighting the good fight.  

And what’s the most important quality in a teammate for your organization?

Focus on the solution, instead of just the problem. And follow through!

Talk about the time you realized your work was making a big impact. 

Since the question is the first time, I have to go back…way back to a very personal experience that changed my life and trajectory. I was in my 4th year of college and had just decided I was going to transfer out of my Biomedical Engineering major into Psychology. I was testing the waters by engaging in some extracurricular programs like volunteering at a crisis hotline and interning at the psych unit at UVa. It was a Sunday night when I had received a call at the crisis center from a father who had just taken his wife to the ER for a nervous breakdown and had come home to put his kids to bed. With a gun in his hand, he was ready to take his own life. The fact that he called first let me know there was a chance to save him. We spent two hours talking on the phone and at one point, I pointed out some conflicts in his thinking: that he believed his wife when she blamed him for their troubles but never when she told him she loved him. Somehow, simply helping him see the disconnect in his thinking was a breakthrough.

When the calls end in these situations, you never really know what happens next. But, the next day, I went on to my internship to interview a patient who had just been admitted the night before. After a few questions, it was clear that this was the wife of the man I had spoken to only 12 hours before. Two days later, he visited and I watched all four of them playing together with even a sense of calm. I knew then that I was meant to influence others, to change minds, and maybe even change hearts to make a difference in the world.  

How has working at Groupon impacted you?

Groupon has been an amazing ride in two short years. I’ve grown more as a leader and professional in these two years than ever before thanks to new experiences that have stretched me, lots of feedback from my customers and team, and most importantly, an incredible sense of pride for what my teams have accomplished through their unwavering focus and commitment.

Who are your biggest influences?

My family. My father who has taught me about excellence and striving for more; my mother who taught me compassion; my husband who has taught me about forgiveness and resilience; and my kids who have taught me about patience and true love.

Speaking of your family…what do your kids think you do?

Probably summarized as building great leaders. And now, as my role has expanded…hiring them!

What’s the last book you read?  

I just finished Ray Dalio’s Principles. It is spot on in terms of building a culture from the ground up and what really matters in building a high-performance organization.

Describe a unique breakthrough moment in your time at Groupon.

I think my team will be OK with me saying this because it was a great aha! moment for all of us. At our recent Talent Development & Diversity offsite, the entire global team got together. One of our lightbulbs was that in our super fast-paced environment—and though we talk all the time virtually—we really did not have a clear sense of each other’s challenges in different regions of the world. Because Groupon is headquartered in the US, the perception is that things run more smoothly with fewer challenges on this side of the pond. The reality is that we all have our challenges no matter where we sit, they are just different. So it’s important to always ask about what those are, have empathy, and collaborate together to figure out how to support each other as a team.

Describe your job in 10 words or less.

Support the business in attracting, selecting, developing, and retaining great talent. (11!)

Inspired by Karishma's story?

 

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

This is really tough to nail down to just one piece of advice. I have been fortunate to have found many amazing mentors in my career who have given me a great deal of wisdom and coaching along the way. The best advice is played out in the Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man. Say “yes” – even if it’s scary or if it means some short-term pain. Say “yes” to the experience if you want to have a life and career of endless possibilities. In short, own the experience! That was SO not on purpose. ; )

What have you done when you’ve encountered setbacks in your career?

Dust yourself off and try again. (Aaliyah, RIP.)

What’s your favorite local business?

Toss up between Big & Little’s—which is two blocks from my house and a Friday night go-to—and River North Car Detailing that does magic when faced with the aftermath of a three-year-old and a ten-month-old.   

What’s the last Groupon you used?

Team dinner at Sapori Trattoria in Chicago.

We know you love what you do at Groupon…but if you could try any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

Oprah. Meeting and talking with people about their journeys, what they’ve learned, and how they have and will change the world…there’s really nothing more inspiring. 

Katie Knox – HR Operations Representative

Katie Knox – HR Operations Representative

KATIE KNOX

HR Operations Representative
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2011

Balancing parenthood and work is an epic challenge, but it helps to feel support everywhere you turn at work. Parents@Groupon co-chair Katie talks about her experience as a working mom at the ‘pon.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory? Or what’s the most “Groupon” thing you’ve experienced at your office?

Having cake and champagne at 8 a.m. on the morning of Groupon’s IPO in 2011. It was an amazing morning and I will never forget it. Another standout memory is when I was returning to work from maternity leave. I attended a recruiting team party called “Christmas in March” which was our team holiday party. I had been gone for almost three months and walked into the party with so many hugs and congratulations! It’s a pretty great feeling to return to such a caring team like that.

The most random thing I’ve witnessed at Groupon has to be when I was in the sales department, and our SVP of Sales came in decked out in a green suit (and top hat) while riding around on an electric cooler. He was tossing out ice cream sandwiches to everyone. So random, but I really appreciated the sugar fix!

You’re the co-chair of Parents@Groupon. Why did you join? What do you like about it?

I originally joined the Parents@Groupon ERG to meet more parents and get more involved. Plus, I loved being able to bring my son to Bring Your Kid To Work Day and our Groupon Trick-or-treating events. Now, I get to help plan those events as a Co-chair of the board!

So what does being co-chair of Parents@Groupon entail exactly?

My role as co-chair entails setting the strategy for the year on what events we do, how much money we budget, and finding new ways to support and celebrate parents at Groupon! We are really excited for our next Bring Your Kid to Work Day, which we host every year near the end of summer where all kids are able to come into the office and experience life at Groupon!

How does Groupon support parents?

Groupon supports parents by providing wonderful benefits such as maternity/paternity leave, mother’s rooms, and by having such a thing as an employee resource group that is dedicated to parents.

How does Groupon support you as a mother?

Groupon has supported me throughout my entire time as a parent. From the time I learned I was pregnant to now (my child is now three years old), my managers have been supportive, flexible, empathetic, and really have seemed to care about me and my family. The mother’s rooms are also amazing and I’ve loved being able to bring my son into work for our Parents@Groupon events.

Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it? What does a typical day look like?

I now work in HR Operations and address all kinds of requests from our employees across the globe. I also look at our processes and communication and try to make improvements.

Who or what inspires you?

I know that scheduling life and workload is a constant juggling act, I am inspired when I see a fellow parent doing the same thing.  And I want to tell all of them that they are doing a stellar job at work and home.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

We all know that people are the most important part of any business. I make sure our behind-the-scenes processes are running smoothly to ensure employees can focus on their jobs.

Have you won any awards in your time at Groupon?

Lots of them… though the names might sound unfamiliar to most.

“Manager Thinks You’re Awesome Award” for continuously exceeding my goals.

“Knighted by the King” award for having the best phone tone on my team.

While in Recruiting, I was given the superlative, “Most Crafty and First Soccer Mom

Where were you before you joined Groupon? How did you get here?

I was in Columbia, Missouri where I worked in social work when my husband casually mentioned that there was a job at Groupon that he was interested in. Fast forward to 2011, we had moved to Chicago and he got a job in the Editorial department. I soon followed by joining the Customer Service team. I’ve now worked in Customer Service, Sales, Recruiting, and HR Operations.

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work? 

I like to hang out with my little dude, my dog, and my husband. I’m a fan of coffee, cooking (sometimes), chocolate, and Target.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be and why?

I always secretly wanted to be a playground designer! I like to think I’m crafty and creative, so I would dream up designs when I was little.

What’s your favorite local business?

Katherine Anne Confections – they have the best hot chocolate in the city, are incredibly friendly, and the owner has kiddos as well!

NodeSchool Seattle and Groupon Team Up for Aspiring JavaScript Coders

NodeSchool Seattle and Groupon Team Up for Aspiring JavaScript Coders

DATA SCIENCE & ENGINEERING

APRIL 2018

NodeSchool Seattle and Groupon Team Up for Aspiring JavaScript Coders

As reported by Wil Alvarez.

In tech-focused Seattle, Groupon becomes the location for new and experienced coders to work together. NodeSchool, a global meetup with local chapters, is dedicated to helping people of all skill levels to learn JavaScript in a low-stress and inclusive environment. The event also created a great opportunity to hang out with other learners and mentors who share a passion for coding.

Seattle Grouponer Wil Alvarez tells us more about this exciting event.  

“It is the perfect scenario for us to build a great community around Groupon. Giving back and helping others to learn can mean a huge impact on other people’s lives. It is also a space that lives by the values of respect, integrity, and inclusion because it’s focused on providing a harassment-free event experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices. It’s a safe place where everyone should feel welcome.”

And feel welcome they did!  According to Will, “Some folks drove two hours just to join us! They said this was one the best JavaScript meetups they’ve been so far, mainly because new coders felt supported and experienced coders were glad they could have a space with the freedom to work on their projects but also with the support of mentors in case they needed it.”  

Wil, and fellow Grouponers Melissa Jimison and Marcin Kanclerz, were the three mentors who worked with 20 attendees during the event. In case you were wondering why Wil, Melissa, and Marcin wanted to give up a Saturday afternoon to help people learn JavaScript, Wil, who organized the event, says, “It is just wonderful to see how happy and grateful people were at the end of the day for the support we gave them. We, developers, have a great power that is capable of changing people’s lives and building a better world. So, why miss the chance to use it? Remember that not all heroes wear capes.”

It also gave the mentors valuable professional development experience. “Organizing an event like the NodeSchool helps me build my leadership skills and boost a stronger sense of community around my team members. Hopefully, this is something I can use not only in my team but in the whole office.”

Wil sees this as not only a way to give back while developing his leadership skills, he also sees this as one of the first events for his Groupon group the Seattle Culture Club. Their mission is to support all the activities that make Groupon a better place to work.

A Leader’s Garden—Designing a thriving organization when you aren’t in control.

A Leader’s Garden—Designing a thriving organization when you aren’t in control.

TECH PAPERS

Aug 19, 2014

A Leader’s Garden—Designing a thriving organization

when you aren’t in control

Written by Todd Webb, Senior Technical Leader

What if organizations were natural ecosystems, and like any other part of nature, cannot be controlled?

 

We like to think that we stand apart from nature, but what if we do not? What if our organization is just like a garden, with all its living and non-living elements, each at the same time independent and interdependent? How would this inform the way leaders approach the challenge of building and maintaining an organization?

If organizations were ecosystems then leaders must act as gardeners. Just as the master gardener must tend to an infinitely complex natural ecosystem, the leader must tend to an infinitely complex human ecosystem. Though the complexity of the ecosystem may be beyond our comprehension, if we understand its fundamental properties, we can help it thrive without the illusion of control.

What are the fundamental properties of a thriving organization?

A thriving organization is fundamentally a network of people with diverse motivations, sharing a purpose and objectives, and acting heedfully via systems and patterns of feedback.

A network of people

When you envision your organization do you think of a hierarchy? If you do, you are missing nearly everything important about how your organization works. If you were to visualize the real interactions between people inside and even outside the organization, you would see a tangled web of connections, some formal, some informal, some known, some unknown. You find people who influence the organization far more than their title or authority would suggest and others who have far less influence than you would expect given their positional power.

Although we may influence, we cannot control the network’s form, or evolution, but through an awareness of the network, can unleash its power.

(For more on networks watch The Power of Networks)

With diverse motivations

When you envision the motivations of the people in your organization do you think of everyone pulling the same direction with similar motivations or acting in self-interest and pulling against one another? Humans are wonderfully diverse and messy. They often have motives in line with organization goals, but they also have power motives, career motives, fear motives, outside interest motives.

Although we cannot control people’s motives, we can influence those motives through understanding and an expression of empathy. We must amplify shared motives and help people accept and find strength and creativity in diverse motives.

(To learn more about what happens when we fail to understand diverse motivations and act with empathy read Leadership and Self-Deception)

Sharing a purpose and objectives

When you ask anyone in your organization what the shared mission is, can they recite it? Do they list the organization’s values and principles? Do they share stories about people who embody those values and principles?

A shared understanding of values provides the glue for the foundation of the organization. This shared understanding of mission, values, principles, and objectives must permeate the organization and become a common lexicon within the company.

Acting heedfully

When you look around at the people working in your organization, are they aware of what is going on around them? If something went horribly wrong how quick would they notice and how well coordinated would their response be?

We must design and foster patterns of heedfulness. Heedfulness leads to resilient teams that can overcome significant chaos and change to reach a goal.

(To learn more about resiliency and heedfulness read Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty)

Via systems and patterns of feedback

Keeping all those fundamental properties in mind, we must tend to the organization by designing and encouraging systems and patterns of feedback that foster heedfulness, and harness diversity, while reinforcing shared purpose and objectives.

Designing in Systems and Patterns

A master gardener understands the underlying patterns of the garden. They understand how each element of the garden produces, uses, or affects the nutrients, sunshine, water, temperature and other factors that help the garden thrive. They design their garden to reinforce those patterns with no illusion that they are in control. Master gardeners are systems thinkers.

We must be systems thinkers too. We must understand and design in systems and patterns of feedback. A thriving organization has many layers of feedback:

  • An all-hands Q&A with senior executives
  • A personal pat on the back for a teammate
  • A practice community that shares knowledge about the Java programming language
  • A book club that studies management practices
  • A governance meeting that helps an engineering team decide what they should work on
  • Software developers pair programming
  • Employees job shadowing to learn what it’s like for someone in a different department
  • A retrospective meeting
  • An always-on group chat room for a project team
  • A team standup meeting at the beginning of each day
  • An employee survey
  • A weekly 1-on-1 coaching session

The next time you think about how to influence your organization, to build great culture, to do great things—think about systems and patterns of feedback. Know that you are not in control, but if you design and foster the right systems and patterns of feedback you can help your organization thrive.

(To learn more about systems thinking read The Fifth Discipline)

Helen Ly – Senior Business Development Consultant in Australia

Helen Ly – Senior Business Development Consultant in Australia

HELEN LY

Senior Business Development Consultant
Australia
Joined: 2013

For Helen, a Senior Business Development Consultant, the success of having generated over 3MM in revenue is only second to the relationships she carefully cultivates. Her customers are her extended family, as are the children who benefit from Helen’s charity work.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Receiving my Million Dollar Club plaque for the very first time.  🙂

Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it?

I engage with local businesses on a daily basis about how Groupon can be a part of their existing business marketing plan. I work remotely in Melbourne, Victoria, and am on the road 80% of the time. If I’m not working out of my car, I’ll be working out of a cafe or from home! It’s almost my 5th anniversary with Groupon Australia, too!

What I love most about my job is the merchant. Meeting new merchants and learning more about how they run their business is not something you can do with any ordinary job. I build enough trust for them to respect me and let me work with them to help grow their business. I am most satisfied when my merchants refer me to their friends and family to look after their business’ wellbeing and growth.

What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve worked on?

Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart would be the most challenging account I’ve recently worked on. I take full responsibility to ensure that all stakeholders are 100% happy with their deal. It was a multilocation deal with multiple franchises. Rather than risk information getting lost because it was coming from so many different locations, I dedicated my time to go out on site and walk through the whole process with management (both head office as well as store management) and with the staff just to be sure they fully understand how everything works. It was more challenging on the front end, but I think it was worth it.

Who or what inspires you?

I seek inspiration from everyone. Where I see weakness in myself, I find the strength in my friends and colleagues and learn from them. I draw inspiration from my customers, too. I love walking down the busy streets of Melbourne and knowing every single business owner by name…and they know mine as well! This reminds me that I am doing my job well and know my market.

“I seek inspiration from everyone. Where I see weakness in myself, I find the strength in my friends and colleagues and learn from them.”

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I got married last year and instead of gifting my guests with bonbonnieres, I donated the funds to Build-A-Bear as a partnership to give sick children in the hospital their very own teddy bears. In March of 2018, my husband and I visited the Royal Children’s Hospital and, together with Build-a-Bear and their charity Challenge Australia, we held a workshop to build bears with the kids in the cancer ward and also dropped into the rooms of the sick kids who were in isolation. It was an experience that I am truly grateful to have been a part of.

There are a lot of amazing Groupon stories. What’s your biggest accomplishment?

I am most proud of my accomplishments in my role of Business Development in achieving 1MM in my first year at Groupon, and my 2MM in the year after. Consistency is crucial to success and I thrive to maintain that and to exceed every time. When Sales transitioned to a hunter/farmer model, it was difficult at first, but I got through it and made my 3MM last year! That’s a win for me 🙂

What’d you do before Groupon? How’d you get here?

I worked in events planning and sales in Sydney and London. I moved to Melbourne with my now husband (we met in London) and saw an opportunity with Groupon, so I applied.  

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work? What are your hobbies?

I have two furbabies that occupy my time, and I’ve recently bought a house.  Also, shopping at Bunnings has taken up a lot of my time. Perhaps that could be a new hobby?

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be and why?

I would be a Forensic Scientist because the data never lies.

Steve Krenzer – Chief Operating Officer

Steve Krenzer – Chief Operating Officer

STEVE KRENZER

Chief Operations Officer
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2017

Meet Steve Krenzer, Groupon’s Chief Operating Officer. When he’s not focused on engaging and empowering our employees to do great work, you can find him, well, in a lot of places: scuba diving, hiking, checking out local bookstores, or enjoying…airplane food?

What do you love about working at Groupon?

I love to walk around the offices and meet the people of Groupon. I always learn so much and get energized by meeting our great people.

Tell us about your role as COO. 

As COO, there’s not too much about Groupon that I don’t get involved with in some capacity. The job can be expressed quite simply: to align the talent and engagement of the people of Groupon with our biggest opportunities. Groupon is such a broad and diverse company, I love the scale and variety of the things we’re working on. This also requires that I have the discipline to say “no” to many good ideas so we can focus on the difference makers.

What differentiates Groupon from other companies you’ve worked for?

I’ve spent almost 20 years working in e-commerce; the chance to work at scale with the opportunity set of Groupon was irresistible.

What are you excited to tackle in the upcoming year?

Five things:

  1. Gaining a better understanding of our customers in detail
  2. Mindfully aligning the assortment of our supply in order to help customers find more great things from more great merchants in their communities
  3. Gaining a better understanding of our merchants and how we can help with their business problems  
  4. Growing our leadership in mobile e-commerce
  5. Increasing the engagement and empowerment of our people

Who or what inspires you?

Passionate people, they’re all around us!  If I had to choose one individual, it would be our middle son, Ethan. Ethan was diagnosed with a very rare (<2000 cases in the world, that’s 1/3.6 million), very serious metabolic disease when he was three years old. At the time the life expectancy for children with the disease was seven years. Ethan has had many, many challenges, but he just celebrated his 28th birthday this past Thanksgiving and is currently completing his Master’s degree. He is so focused and committed to overcoming every obstacle life has put in his path, it’s amazing.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

The scale and energy of the teams on the floor were jaw-dropping.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

Everything we do needs to be in the service of bringing customers and merchants together more easily, more beneficially, and more frequently.

What do your parents think you do.

They have no idea, probably something like “travel a lot, working on big challenges.”

So where were you before joining Groupon and how did you get here?

Most recently I was the CEO of Core Digital Media, one of the larger direct-response marketing platforms on the web. When we completed the sale of the business, Groupon CEO Rich Williams invited me to come help at Groupon and I jumped at the chance!

What do you enjoy outside of working at Groupon?

Hiking, reading literary fiction, scuba diving, and drinking good red wine.

If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

For one day? Politics, but I wouldn’t want to make a career of it. If not that, then an Olympic skier.

What are your favorite local businesses?

It’s a tie between independent bookstores and wine shops.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

No, I only write in Iambic pentameter.

And last but not least, tell us something about you that might surprise us. 

I actually like airplane food.