Sean Murphy – Senior Desktop Support Analyst in Phoenix

Sean Murphy – Senior Desktop Support Analyst in Phoenix

SEAN MURPHY

Senior Desktop Support Analyst
Phoenix, AZ
Joined: 2015

The best way to dodge a Polar Vortex in Chicago? Move to Phoenix! Sean talks Phoenix office culture, magicians, table tennis, and Minecraft.

Tell us about your job! What do you do? 

As a Desktop Support Analyst, I cover the Scottsdale office locally and work with our team on the frontline for global coverage. Days are very unpredictable, which is why I love my job. You need to stay on your toes to be ready for whatever comes in. I love the challenge it presents and the learning opportunity Groupon provides.

And you’re originally from Chicago—how did you end up in Phoenix?

I actually moved from the northern burbs of Chicago to Phoenix prior to working at Groupon to escape the “Polar Vortex.”  I’ve been back to Groupon’s Chicago office since orientation. The Phoenix office culture is unique: we’re sales-dominant and pretty much everyone knows each other due to the office size which makes outings, competitions, and general friendliness in the forefront. Table tennis is a pretty big deal here; typically there’s an office-wide tournament open for anyone to join. It’s hands- down the most fun I’ve had at an office job!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory? 

My favorite Groupon memory was my first day. I was completely blown away walking through Chicago’s reception to my new hire orientation—it seemed surreal, this was the place I’d been looking for! Everyone shared the same excitement to be part of something so big.

What’s the most random thing you’ve seen at the office?

Probably when we had a magician visit the office who was part of a deal one of our reps had put together. He put on a small show for us and expressed his gratitude towards Groupon for helping him drive a bigger audience to his show. Everyone got a kick out of it, moments like this make you really appreciate what we do for small businesses.

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

It’s my department’s responsibility to provide timely support to ensure business continuity and that everyone is provided with the tools they need to perform to the best of their ability.

What’s your biggest accomplishment here?

At the beginning of the year, I was awarded the “December EngOps employee of the month” for my work consolidating, auditing, and managing our software profile. I’ve never received such recognition for doing what I love. This encourages me to work even harder.

Give us a glimpse of the Phoenix office!

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

Throughout 2017, I managed Groupon’s global software portfolio. This forced me to learn all the tools we utilize to be a successful business along with forming strong relations with different departments and business partners. I treated this as I would my own personal investments to save financially where we can and get the most out of the products we own. I’ve never worked on anything of this scale before, coming out of it I have a new level of confidence!

Where can we find you outside of work?

My wife and I love checking out local businesses with purchased Groupons as we learn the lay of the land in Phoenix (since we’re Chicago transplants). My son and I love playing Minecraft together (mostly him showing me the crazy stuff he builds!). Personally, I spend much of my free time running or mountain biking the desert. At any given point I’m usually training for the next big race.

Who or what inspires you?

The more I put in, the more I get out. I’ve never worked for an organization where this was so true. Everyone’s accomplishments are celebrated, this drives me to be on my A-game. The moment I got my first taste of success here I was hooked.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

Walking through the doors the first time I had no idea what to expect, I was nervous for whatever reason I might not fit in or that it’d be overly competitive. I’d learn very quickly that was the complete opposite! The diversity in our workplace is mind-blowing, there are groups for everyone to be part of. All my peers are interested in sharing knowledge and bringing each other up, it’s such a unique work experience. Everyone I speak with is as excited as me to be here and a part of this. I have so much pride saying who I work for, I know we are each individually responsible for the business’s success.

Carlos Vale – Head of Diversity Recruitment

Carlos Vale – Head of Diversity Recruitment

CARLOS VALE

Head of Diversity Recruitment
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2017

If you see Carlos, give him a high five for snagging a spot on the Latinos 40 Under 40 list—an amazing accomplishment! We’re proud of the work he’s doing to make Groupon a more inclusive work environment. 👏👏🏾👏🏿

So it’s only been a few months, but what’s your favorite Groupon memory so far?

I think my favorite Groupon memory so far would have to be going to the Arlington Park Race Track with the Talent Acquisition team. I think I had been here for about two weeks, which provided a perfect opportunity to connect with everyone–it was a blast!

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

In short, I lead Groupon’s global diversity recruiting strategy in order to build robust pipelines of diverse talent for critical positions across all levels. As an ambassador of Groupon’s dedication to a more diverse and inclusive workplace, my role requires a highly relationship-driven approach to building and sustaining a deep and broad network of connections both inside and outside Groupon. Finally, through working cross-functionally with Recruiting, HR, and Talent Development while driving deeper collaboration with Groupon’s Employee Resource Groups, my role helps provide the framework for all business groups to embrace diversity.

No small feat, we’re sure! What’s challenging about your work?

In this field, building, assessing, and reworking strategy is always challenging no matter how supportive the organization may be. There isn’t a magic solution to this, and sometimes it feels like a shape-shifting puzzle–you think you’ve found the right piece, and surely, it changes shape right before your eyes; now, you are trying to figure out where the new piece fits. I love it, though–I’m a person totally driven by solving challenges!

So what makes your role at Groupon unique?

Although some iterations of my role exist outside of Groupon, the reason why I’m here is that I feel like I am generally given the opportunity to identify challenges/opportunities and come up solutions that are heard by many across the organization, including the CEO and other senior leaders. Most people wish they could have the opportunity to meet with their CHRO on a weekly basis, and possibly meet with their CEO and General Counsel on a monthly basis, but all of those things have been quite normal during my first months here.

Tell us about your first impression of Groupon as an employer.

My first impression…was that this is a great place to build things, as well as build on things. Here, I have the opportunity to create new things as well as build on some of the amazing things that have been previously started/accomplished.

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

I would probably want to be the CEO of Groupon for a day, just to see what a day in their life is like. How early do they get up? How many meetings are they in? How do they find balance during the day to eat, or chat with their family? These are all questions I would love to know!

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

Our customers, employees, merchants, and investors come from many backgrounds. Through diversity recruitment, we are able to bring in diverse top talent that can help in the areas of talent, culture, and marketplace–all of these areas help us be better equipped to identify additional opportunities and resolve challenges more quickly through the diversity of thought.

Talk about our ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) and your experience working with them.

ERGs are central to our I&D mission of making Groupon a great place to work for every employee. In my time here, I’ve had the opportunity to do some amazing things with and through our ERGs–I’ll keep it to one example, though. When I first started, I wanted to put together an on-site event where we could invite diverse top talent to network and learn more about Groupon, while also ensuring that they were able to walk away with something. Once going through initial negotiations, I brought it to our ERGs to see if/how they could help–the results were great. In November, we co-hosted an event with the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), attended by almost 100 professionals of all levels that were able to engage with our CFO, folks from our Talent Acquisition team, and employees from multiple departments. The coolest thing is that this was coordinated by Groupon en Espanol, and supported by Groupon4Vets and Women@Groupon!

Who or what inspires you?

I’m definitely motivated by visionary leaders who have overcome odds and have helped to make a difference in some way, shape, or form. I’m also motivated by the desire to be a good role model for my nieces and nephews. Finally, I’m motivated to pay it forward to others by providing and exposing me to opportunities, just as many have done for me.

Where can we find you outside of work?

I looooove playing volleyball–indoors, outdoors, and anything in between!

What’s your favorite local business?

I would say King Spa is my favorite local business. It’s nice to be able to feel like you can get away, locally. Also, it reminds me of my year in Japan in 2000, and that alone is worth the Groupon to get out to King Spa!

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Different people, all coming together here, supporting local

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I lived in Japan for a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student and absolutely loved the experience!

Emily Wilson – Technical Program Manager, Engineering Operations

Emily Wilson – Technical Program Manager, Engineering Operations

EMILY WILSON

Technical Program Manager, Engineering Operations
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2011

What’s your favorite conference room?

Emily “Dubs” Wilson is one of the few Grouponers who has been featured twice on the People Blog! That’s how much we 💚 her Groupon journey. Get ready for an inspirational tale of growth and resilience from one of our favorite women in tech.

You have quite the Groupon story, can you walk us through your journey from 2011 to today?

I started off as a second shift customer service representative. I didn’t think I’d get the job; I am a certified music teacher. At the time, Groupon was committed to oddball humor, and most of the people I worked with were involved in Chicago’s improv comedy scene. The first person I sat next to now has her own television show! But my background in education ended up being an asset. I was really good at teaching customers how to use this new-fangled Groupon. It turned out I also had some intuition for how the website worked, why it didn’t sometimes, and how to find workarounds and teach my colleagues about expected behavior. My first manager put me on a special project that eventually became its own team. Our team grew together, going from supporting fellow customer service reps to any business team, from supporting the customer experience to any employee experience as well, and from using the site to testing it before major releases.

Eventually, as Groupon rolled out the front end component of our service-oriented architecture internationally, this team was moved into the engineering department. As our role became more defined, my desire to build and improve processes outgrew the work I was doing. I also missed the part of education that allowed for growing the people around me. I did so informally, of course, with my teammates. I was not chosen to be our team’s next manager, something I believed I had been clearly working toward since the team was formed. I started to feel like maybe it was time to make a career shift, and get back into education somehow. But I still had this nagging feeling that I had more to do at Groupon. I had “made it” out of the service organization, and I was close to being empowered to give back.

A mentor of mine helped me believe this, convinced me to stay at Groupon and helped me understand that the career shift I was looking for could happen here. She and my interim manager, my most trusted advisors at the time, collaborated on what an expanded version of my role could look like and presented the option to me. I would keep reporting to my interim manager (who would become our teams’ senior manager), and I would learn project management skills on-the-job. With this new role came greater autonomy. I started working more closely with the engineering team under my senior manager and did a scrum master certification course. To quote Stephen Colbert, “The process of process is process,” and I can’t think of a more process-y process than agile methodologies! While taking on a sort of scrum master role with the engineering team, I also began doing their product work.

“Emily’s passion for Groupon is electric. You can feel it when you’re in the same room, you can see it for miles away. Emily’s dedication to her job is infectious. She consistently makes me want to do better for our customers, merchants, and employees,” Alan Deitch, Director of Engineering

That summer, having learned in the previous year how important it was to always vocalize my career goals, I told my manager that my ultimate goal was to be a chief operations officer. Instead of laughing and bringing me back down to earth, which is what I totally would have expected someone to do, he took me seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he said people management was probably the next logical step toward that goal. Before I knew it, I was on my way to becoming an engineering manager. My team was small, but their skills were mighty. Having not been an engineer myself, we had to find our own ways to work together, put out quality products, and do so on time. My team met all of their deadlines in the time that I managed them, and I couldn’t be prouder.

We rolled out a global careers platform in line with the company moving toward a global applicant tracking system solution. We vastly improved an internal tool that has become essential to our business teams’ day-to-day efficiency, globalized an external-facing application, and so much more. The experience taught me that empowering your reports to do what they love (or connect what they have to do to what they love) and building a trusting relationship was the most important key to our success. Because the team was small and they were ready for more learning opportunities, a peer of mine and I decided the next logical step was merging teams. We did complementary work, and more team members to collaborate with was going to mean a stronger environment. I transitioned into a program management role, as I wanted to increase my technical chops, learn to be a more effective influencer, and learn to build long-term organizational strategy.

OK, so what’s your secret to success here?

The people at Groupon are definitely the reason I’ve been as successful as I have. I have something called a “Dream Boss” list. Before I understood the difference between everyone’s roles, I created this list as a way to identify those bright, shiny characteristics that I admired. Through the years, I’ve so far worked for, been mentored by, or been peers with them all. (Hot tip: Asking someone to mentor you is probably the greatest complement you can ever give them, and they’ll almost always agree to do it.) I’ve had amazing mentors and sponsors, people who saw in me things I didn’t recognize in myself. I’ve also had incredible mentees who, through our one-on-ones, have probably taught me more than I’ve taught them (shh!).

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

I don’t think I’ve ever asked someone to help me with something and heard “no.” We’re all busy, but we also all understand that without a grassroots effort to build strong networks at the company, we’ll never reach our potential.

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

Everything that I do has the end goal of empowering employees. From being an employee that was directly talking to our customers every day, I can confidently say that employees who are empowered to do their jobs efficiently, with the proper knowledge, and with empathy have everything to do with building that daily habit.

Work with Emily.

 

Check out our open Tech roles!

Tell us about your involvement with Women@Groupon.

I was the finance chair for Women@Groupon for a year. I wanted to learn some skills I hadn’t had the opportunity to learn elsewhere, and I wanted to work toward a more inclusive company culture. I mentored someone who became the co-chair for PRIDE@Groupon, and I have collaborated with a lot of the other ERGs as well. The thing about Women@Groupon is that all the other ERGs have women too, and I feel it’s our responsibility to raise each other up.

What’s your favorite local business?

Ba Le Sandwich Shop. Before I ever moved to Chicago, I saw Ba Le on Check Please, a conversational PBS show that features Chicago-area restaurants. I had a friend who was a theater critic, so we’d meet in the city from our respective suburbs so we could see a show for free, and we’d find the cheapest possible places to eat. I got a job before we got the chance to try Ba Le. When I moved to Chicago months later, I unknowingly picked the exact neighborhood where Ba Le stood. I stayed in that apartment for 6.5 years, and I ordered a veggie avocado (no cucumbers) Bahn mi sandwich at least once a week. Hmm, I might go there tonight!

Vim or emacs?

VIM. Because “:x”

What was your first impression of Groupon?

Having never imagined I’d “go corporate,” this place is a lot less “corporate” than my stint in public education.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

One of my favorite memories was completing Project Gemini, Groupon’s white label solution that allowed us to integrate the LivingSocial brand (and future brands) with our platform. I started at Groupon before we became a publicly traded company, and to not only see us acquire one of our biggest competitors but to be part of an engineering-wide effort was magical. We had great leaders working together and built a stronger technical community within our organization as a result. People stepped up to help one another, and we delivered quality solutions well and on time. I can recall a time when the engineering department, though it wasn’t alone in this, was perhaps a bit more ego-driven. The way this project was executed proved that we had, culturally, made a complete 180, and I loved being a part of something bigger.

What do your parents think you do?

“You know, Emily, you basically do what I’ve done most of my career,” my dad once said to me years ago when I was talking about how I envisioned the future of my support team. That was the first time that I (kinda sorta) understood what my dad does for a living.

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs

What’s the story behind your track jacket nickname “Dubs?”

It’s no secret that it isn’t easy being a woman in technology. I picked up the name “Dubs” (because my last name starts with a “W”) when I was on second shift. The majority of my colleagues during the day shift hadn’t seen me, but they had heard of “Dubs,” which gave them no indication of my gender. While I now proudly identify as a woman in tech, I am still attached to the nickname. Many of my close friends whom I met at that time period still refer to me as such.

What keeps you fulfilled and busy outside of work?

I love trying new things and “owning the experience,” especially when they challenge me. I’m someone with no childhood training who became a professional dancer, an incredibly weak swimmer who learned how to sail, and now I’m taking voice lessons. I used to get nervous when I would present to large groups, and I figured the only way to get over that was to do something that scared me even more: singing in front of another soul. I won’t be on stage anytime soon, but I love how much I’m learning about vocal mechanisms.

 

Daryl Billingsley – HRIS Analyst

Daryl Billingsley – HRIS Analyst

DARYL BILLINGSLEY

HRIS Analyst
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2015

If you ever need someone to talk HRIS -or- majestic birds with, Daryl is your go-to guy.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Every workday is a new experience.

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

I provide support for Workday (HCM) system-related functions via configuration and/or reporting.

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

Initially, increasing efficiency by creating more of a collaborative work environment.

Who or what inspires you? 

People still believing in HUMANity and my awesome BBoyz (sons).

What was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?

Did I really just see someone in shorts, flip-flops, piercings, and exposed tattoos in a corporate meeting?! I thought it was a young, progressive, and promising startup.

What’s your favorite conference room name?

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

Cost-effectiveness, increased efficiency, timeliness, and reporting analytics.

There are a lot of amazing stories at Groupon. What are you most proud of?

I’m always proud of my HRIS and HR colleagues, but I’m most proud of my engagement in helping Groupon assist in rebuilding communal efforts and increasing diversity.

Have you won any awards? 

AJ Iniguez (from the Employment Brand team) told me I was awesome once.

What do your parents think you do?

Play on my laptop between meetings.

So you’re one of the co-chairs of B.I.G.! Tell us about your involvement with the ERG. 

I joined B.I.G. in order to assist in rebuilding our communal efforts, champion inclusion and diversity initiatives, and provide tools for professional development for the minority population.

What did you do before joining Groupon?

I worked fort a liquor distributor!

You have a life outside of Groupon, obviously, so what keeps you busy outside of work?

Rec with my sons, sports with my friends, and mastering the art of understanding that everyone is probably right in their opinion (regardless of logic).  😉

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

I would record dope vocals in a professional recording booth. I’m sure my bath-time vocals would give people in the studio all the chills, as they give me the chills. (Brrrr, that dude is COLD!)

So why Groupon? What keeps you excited to come to work every day?

Groupon is unique in itself and there is something to be said in doing your part to increase a corporation’s overall efficiency. Plus, who doesn’t want to have the option of wearing shorts to work? 😉

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Wait just a minute – –

There is a flying G-Cat – –

Where’s the sunroof switch

(Very nice!)

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I love to watch majestic birds. No, seriously, they’re awesome.

Jasmine Alleyne-Gill – Manager, BeautyNow

Jasmine Alleyne-Gill – Manager, BeautyNow

JASMINE ALLEYNE-GILL

Manager, BeautyNow
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2016

Jasmine is many things: a singer, a manager, Co-Chair of Blacks in Groupon, and probably the only person we’ve met who does not like garlic bread.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory? 

Planning and executing our first Blacks In Groupon event was really special for me. We had an amazing turn out (over 50 people!) from all walks of life. It was beautiful to see a room full of inspiring people ready to make a change in the culture here at Groupon.

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

I manage a lovely team in BeautyNow. I love that I am challenged every day to inspire my team to be great and hit our goals. I love that I am challenged to think outside of the box in regards to building a platform that doesn’t exist. I am surrounded by some of the smartest, most insightful people on a daily basis, and for that, I am eternally grateful to learn from them.

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

Loaded question! Every day in the BeautyNow world is a challenge! But I wouldn’t have it any other way 😉

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by artists and risk-takers. Strong women who don’t take “no” for an answer. I am inspired by people that despite all odds, pursue their dreams. Music, flowers, food. I take inspiration from it all. We live in a wonderful world if you just slow down to listen or take a look.

Where were you before joining Groupon?

I was a manager at the H&M Customer Support Center.

What was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?

“Omg, wait…I can just HAVE that La Croix?!” I was taken aback by how hard everyone worked, (despite the fact that there’s a huge cat in a spaceship in the lobby), and other just plain fun and silly stuff around this office. I like that Groupon plays hard, but works even harder.

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

I am working to make beauty-booking a breeze! For anyone who wants to get a spa service done and doesn’t have the time to research. I am making it so that all businesses from the largest spas to the mom-and-pop shops of the world all get a chance to shine!

There are a lot of amazing Groupon stories. What’s yours?

I’m very proud to have been elected as the Co-Chair of Blacks in Groupon and to be in a new position within less than a year of my being here. I’d like to say I’m pretty proud of my career progression and the opportunities that have been given to me thus far. Onward and upwards for me, guys!

Congrats on being elected Co-Chair! Alright, so tell us about your involvement with Blacks in Groupon!

As Co-Chair (along with Daryl Billingsley) I get to bring beautiful, intelligent, inspiring black people together to celebrate our culture. I get to invite others to our conversations to create a unity that is much needed in the world today.

What does your mom think you do?

My mother thinks I sell coupons…and she thinks I’m the absolute best at it. I’ll take it!

Where can we find you outside of work?

I am the lead singer of a band H.a.R.d. (find us on Facebook or just friend me ‘Jasmine Gill’ and snoop around my pages for vids!) I’m blessed to have my band—my boys, my best friends for over ten years. I hope to sing until my very last breath.

If you could do any other job for a day, what would you do?

I would be Oprah for a day. Whatever day, whatever she has planned, I’d like to take that wheel and see how it feels to be that dope!

What’s your favorite local business?

Oh my goodness, loaded question! I love Horse Thief Hollow in Beverly. I love Williams Inn Pizza, Haire’s Gulf Shrimp, Cafe Jumping Bean in Pilsen, Soul Vegetarian….there’s a trend here….I LIKE FOOD. And Old Town School of music, because duh.

Your role might exist at other companies…so why Groupon?

My role does NOT exist anywhere outside of Groupon (thanks for the reminder!) NOTHING like BeautyNow exists, so….yeah no comparison. One and only. I feel special 🙂

(We sort of set that one up!)

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Sitting at my desk —

sun shining through the window —

it’s almost Friday

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I don’t like garlic bread.

LaTrice – Member Experience Manager

LaTrice – Member Experience Manager

LATRICE

Member Experience Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2016

LaTrice talks BeautyNow, moving up at Groupon, and her experience volunteering to help a local high school’s volleyball team.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

During my time as a Social Media Moderator, which was part of the Customer Support team, the department celebrated Customer Support Week. During that week, there were random celebrations, but the funniest thing that happened was Ronnie, the VP of the department, passing out ice cream on a motor scooter. It was a hilarious thing to see.

Tell us about your job! What do you do? 

My position aligns customers with the various beauty merchants through the appointment setting process.

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

Being part of the Customer Support team was a challenge because of the various projects we had, being able to adapt to the various needs of the business, and aligning with customers’ needs as well.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by many people. My mother, my older sister, and my best friend are amazing inspirations to me. They are women who—in spite of various restrictions and limitations—continue to persevere and inspire change in the world.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

Everything moves at the speed of light. Do not expect things to remain stagnant or rudimentary because things move fast!

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

We work specifically with local businesses in the BeautyNow area. The majority of our merchants are local businesses that offer amazing services which most clients would not find without aligning with the BeautyNow area of the app.

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

I am very proud of every goal I made in my original department. Through hard work and dedication to my tasks, I reached every one of them. At the end of my tenure in Customer Support, I was a Customer Support All-Star and I used my experience and diligence to move out of the Customer Service department into the BeautyNow area.

What do your parents think you do?

When working on Social Media, “You mean to tell me that you sit on Facebook and Twitter? At least you’re getting paid to do what you do all day anyway!”

Why do you volunteer with Groupon Volunteers? 

When I learned that Groupon supported Employee Resource Programs, I thought it would be a great idea to take advantage of the opportunity to meet and engage with members of the organization in various roles and capacities. I wanted to participate with Groupon Volunteers because it allowed me to be a mentor. Working as a mentor with the Spark Program, I partner mentored three young ladies at a local grammar school. Through various fundraising efforts, we were able to raise over $300 towards replacing the school’s volleyball team uniforms.

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

A winding road through many retail and professional environments.

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

I would be a fashion stylist for a major awards show.

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.

Black History Month: Meet Some of B.I.G.’s Leaders

Black History Month: Meet Some of B.I.G.’s Leaders

Black History Month is upon us and some of the leaders of Blacks in Groupon (B.I.G.)—our employee resource group dedicated to supporting people of color within Groupon—are here to introduce themselves, talk about their heroes, and share what they love about B.I.G. Blacks in Groupon’s mission is to cultivate inclusion and diversity for people of color, rebuild communal efforts and increase professional development.

VALERIE SMITH, Marketing & Comms Chair

Speaker, Trainer, Mentor & Professional Flautist

You’re busy! Tell us about yourself and your background.

I’m active within Toastmasters International—an organization where members become effective communicators and leaders. I’ve been a member of the South Loop Speak Freaks Toastmasters Club #7079 since December 2011 and have been involved in taking on leadership roles, such as President, VP of Membership, VP of Public Relations, appointed Area Director, and I’m currently VP of Education. I’m known as the “Social Media Queen” of my Toastmasters Club, where I’ve set up and run many social media channels. My passions are attracting and engaging followers! I also facilitate Social Media Workshops at Toastmasters International District Conferences in Chicago.

My greatest achievement will be receiving the DTM: Distinguished Toastmasters Award this Spring in April, the highest honor within Toastmasters International. I look forward to using my communication and leadership skills as the Marketing and Communications Chair for B.I.G.

KEVIN HOWARD, Community Advocate

Business Development Rep

Tell us about yourself and what’s on your agenda for B.I.G. this year.

I’m a current Business Development Rep for the Things To Do vertical here at Groupon. I started in March of 2017 after working in luxury retail for 7 years. I studied Public Relations and Marketing at the University of St. Francis in Joliet. Why did I join B.I.G.? It’s simple: I wanted to help represent people of color within Groupon and help bring awareness and opportunities to initiate positive change and make a difference inside and outside of Groupon. I want to aide in providing proper communication channels to shine light and awareness on issues that minorities experience in the workplace and elsewhere. Nothing unites us quite as well as adversity and sharing common issues we face will help engage positive conversations and drive better relationships to build brighter futures. I’m honored and excited to be part of this group and I look forward to building something great with everyone involved.

PORCHA HARVEY-LOBBINS, Community Advocate

Business Development Rep

Name an entrepreneur who you’d like to recognize for Black History Month.

For BHM I’d like to give a special shoutout to Madam C.J. Walker, one of the richest and most successful African American entrepreneurs in her time. She was a first generation born-free African American: her parents were slaves set free. She manufactured and sold hair growth products from her knowledge of working as a laundress and experimenting with different soaps and concoctions. At the time she went from making $300 a year to $300 a month. She expanded her business and built an empire that included over 2,000 employees and had a net worth of over 600,000…the equivalent of 6MM today, making her one of the richest businesswomen of America during that time. With her income she advocated for African American and women’s rights with the NAACP and YWCA. I chose her because she is an inspiration for financial literacy, entrepreneurship, community advocacy, and paved the way for the modern hair care industry we now have today. Perfect example of “starting from the bottom and now we’re here!”

MUHAMMAD RIZVI, Marketing & Comms Chair

Business Development Representative

Tell us about yourself and why you joined B.I.G.

I’m absolutely honored to be a part of B.I.G. I was born and raised in Pakistan and my family still lives there. I came to America to attend college at Illinois Wesleyan University and ended up staying. I graduated with a degree in Economics and I’m currently pursuing an MBA at night. During the day, you can find me on the phones talking with local merchants for the Home and Auto team here at Groupon. You can read my full Groupon story here! My biggest motivation to join B.I.G. was because of the great things I’ve heard about the group. I envision helping the group transform into a system where there are more minorities, such as myself, so we can spread diversity and inclusion. I have been at Groupon for a year and a half and I want to make more of an impact here, starting with B.I.G.

 

LATRICE T., Community Advocate 

Member Experience Manager

Who are your heroes you’d like to recognize for Black History Month?

Amy Jacques Garvey. Pearl Cleage. CaShawn (Pretty Brown Girl) Thompson.

Amy Jacques Garvey—the second wife of Marcus Garvey—was the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association of African Communities League. Amy, who was both a journalist and leader of the organization, used her words and ideas to further convey the mission of the UNIA-ACL. Through her work and her endeavors, she provided a new face and outlook to the role of women in activism.

Pearl Cleage was a member of the original Black Panther Party and is currently an author and playwright. She spoke the truth of being a Black woman in America during a time when women were not given a full voice in politics and community activism.

CaShawn Thompson is a mother, nanny, and the founder/creator of the Black Girl Magic movement. As a single mother of two, she understands that Black women are not always seen as magical and beautiful, but through her movement, she has popularized the concept that every aspect of Black womanhood has an inherent beauty and magic that continues to carry the community and one another to new heights.

Lindsey Womack – Human Resources Business Partner

Lindsey Womack – Human Resources Business Partner

LINDSEY WOMACK

Human Resources Business Partner
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2010

Lindsey has held many roles in her time here (we count 5), all of which have enabled her to make a positive impact on the lives and experiences of local merchants, her direct reports, and finally the employees of Groupon. (We’re sensing a trend here.)

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

As an HRBP, I support my business groups by helping them retain and grow talent. I enjoy working with people and finding ways to help employees grow in their career.

What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve worked on in your time here?

I worked on a project with many team members from the business, recruiting, and HR to update our Onboarding program. This was a challenging project because it was global, and we were working with teams in different countries and timezones to streamline our processes. We wanted to ensure the new hire experience is the same no matter what office or team you join.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

In 2010, there was a monkey dressed like Santa Claus that came to the office. There are always crazy things happening in the office and you never know what to expect: Zombies on Halloween, T-Rex running down the aisles, Steve Harvey, All-4-One singing in the lobby, the Abominable Snowman, etc.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

I first came to Groupon’s office in 2010 just a few days after moving to Chicago from Florida where I worked for a small company. I was drawn to the energy of the team, which at the time was dubbed the fastest-growing company ever!

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

I impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit by helping the business grow and retain talent.

There are a lot of awesome Groupon employee stories. What are you most proud of?

I started in 2010 as a Sales Representative and have been through many roles at Groupon including Account Manager, Team Lead, Divisional Sales Manager, and Human Resources Business Partner. While in my manager roles, I created processes to streamline onboarding for new hires in Merchant Support and created a program for Merchant Development to ensure recent graduates of our Onboarding program had the resources (mentors, training, etc.) they needed in order to be successful in their role. I’m proud of the programs I was able to create in sales and the career I have been able to build for myself at Groupon.

Have you won any awards during your time here?

President’s Club 2014! Also—funny story about President’s Club—my husband also works at Groupon (we met in college, but ended up here together). When I had found out that I won President’s Club, I let my husband, Jon, know that he would be my plus one. A couple days later, they sent out an email to all of the winners to join in a celebration, and my husband was on the email, too! Turns out we had both won that same year!

You’re a member of Women@Groupon; why did you join? What do you get out of it?

I joined Women@Groupon to expand my network and meet career-driven individuals who could offer different points of view. In 2013, I applied for the first mentor program for W@G and had a great mentor from our Legal department. It was so helpful to have my mentor’s perspective while I was going through my career changes at Groupon.

So backtracking a bit, how did you end up at Groupon from Florida?

Before Groupon, I worked as an Education Consultant at an audio-visual integration company in Orlando, FL. I sold A/V equipment such as projectors, screens, interactive whiteboards, and clicker systems to schools. My sister lived in Chicago and I wanted to experience living outside of Florida, so I packed up and moved without having a job, which was a little nerve-wracking. My sister told me about Groupon being the fastest-growing company ever at the time, and I decided to apply for a Sales role.

What are you up to when you’re not working?

I love to travel and have many places on my “to go” list. I also travel to Florida quite frequently to visit friends and family. I like to explore Chicago, try new restaurants, and love going to Broadway shows. I’m usually looking for a new workout to try and I also recently took up an adult tumbling class.

What’s your favorite view from the office?

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

I would love to be a Cirque De Soleil performer and miraculously be able to do all of the stunts.

What’s your favorite local business?

Kibbitznest in Lincoln Park: it’s a cafe/bar with nostalgic games, coffee, wine, light bites, and CDs and records that you can play.

What do you love about Groupon?

I love what Groupon can do for local businesses. When I was an Account Manager, I spoke to so many business owners and heard great success stories of how Groupon helped their business. Many businesses were able to expand in product or services.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York when I was in high school; it is my favorite tradition to watch it every year.

Fabien Jouneau – IT Support Services Team Lead in Paris

Fabien Jouneau – IT Support Services Team Lead in Paris

FABIEN JOUNEAU

IT Support Services Team Lead
Paris, France
Joined: 2010

What’s your favorite view from the office?

What’s your favorite conference room?

“Fabien is one of the best people I’ve been lucky enough to work with. He’s always eager to go the extra mile and make sure that every aspect of his work is as good as it can be,” – Anton Sidelnikov, Fabien’s manager & Senior Manager of IT for EMEA

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

One of my favorite memories is from when I was still a trainee. In 2011, we had outgrown the Groupon France and one day, having to plug too much computer—the electric meter caught fire. We suddenly had 120 people who couldn’t work because we had no power. I was tasked with finding a solution so that the employees could get back to work. I proposed to move all of the employees in the middle of the day to the new office. Thus, 120 people moved by taking computers, keyboards, and screens on their chairs and traveled 1km through the streets of Paris to our new location. The tourists thought it was a movie and took pictures.

What was your first tole here and where are you at now?

I was hired as a systems and network administrator for Groupon France. Now I am an IT Team Lead.

So tell us about what you do here!

IT is really exciting every day. We have a lot of responsibility when employees come to the office every morning. Every day I coordinate and drive the daily activities to provide the best service to our users. I am in contact with support services for our business (networks and administration services) to provide support services. We must not forget them because they are important to our business. I also produce useful data for management in order to improve the services when employees contact us.

Where can we find you outside of work? What are your hobbies?

During the week you can find me in one of two places. I’m either at the cafe enjoying a charcuterie board and wine with my friends or colleagues or I’m boxing, which I discovered 8 months ago. Otherwise, I’m probably playing video games like World of Warcraft,  Overwatch, or PUBG. I also love reading and devour TV series when I have time. When the weather allows, I’ll go boating to disconnect from technology for a while.

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

The biggest challenge I encountered was the standardized our global helpdesk processes. At that time, it was necessary to change everything, myself included.

So where were you before joining Groupon?

Before Groupon, I was in med school, but I got to a point where what I was learning didn’t excite me as much as computers. I decided to change lanes and eventually enrolled in an engineering school. Groupon for me was the same school! I was looking for a job where I could perfect my skills and knowledge. I was also looking for an internship when I came across an ad. Fast forward seven years, here I am sharing my story!

What was your first impression of Groupon?

I had an excellent first impression. In the beginning, most employees were still fairly young. I had just left school so it was really amazing to have a lot in common with my colleagues. Besides, many have remained very close friends to this day. During my interview, I said to myself, “if you must invest yourself in a company, this is a good one.” Since then I have never regretted my choice to join Groupon.

What do your parents think you do?

When I explain to my parents what I do, they always reply, “If you are happy, we are happy.” I am E.T. for them.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

Passion, tenacity, commitment, solidarity.

So what’s something that has surprised you in your time here?

I think the state of mind that prevails at Groupon. I am still pleasantly surprised by the work we do every day. It’s not always easy, but everyone takes responsibility, risks, and investments to produce quality service.

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

Every day I make sure that all Groupon employees can come and work in good conditions and make sure that no one is faced with any difficulties in doing their job. Sometimes I take the time out of my role as manager to accompany my colleagues in joy and good humor and they make me feel good.

Ana Ananthakumar – Product Manager, Supply Intelligence

Ana Ananthakumar – Product Manager, Supply Intelligence

ANA ANANTHAKUMAR

Product Manager, Supply Intelligence
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2017

Ana describes his job as being an agent for Groupon’s version of the CIA. What does that entail? We’d tell you, but…just read his story to find out!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

On the day before Halloween, I was busy at my desk working and wearing a T-shirt and jeans (on that day, my tee-shirt and jeans combo was the most formal attire). I was already enjoying the costumes people around me were wearing. Top Gun’s Tom Cruise (our engineering manager), was sitting with his costume. A few desks away, a fox was coding. I thought that things couldn’t get any more hilarious. As if to prove me wrong, I saw all hell break loose in our office: Freddy Krueger, Jason, and a lot more of the everyday villains that haunted you were walking among us.

Where were you before joining Groupon?

I was born and raised in Sri Lanka. I graduated an Electrical Engineering major, completed CFA Level 3,  and worked for Unilever’s supply chain for four years. Then, I came to Kellogg to get my MBA. This was the first time I lived outside of Sri Lanka. Last summer, I was the product manager for a drone company. Now I am here!

So tell us about your job. What do you do? What do you love about it?

I am the Product Manager for Supply Intelligence. My product—an AI platform—brings in the best supply/merchants into Groupon. I think of it as GIA (Groupon’s Intelligence Agency – like CIA). Think of it as an ‘agent’ going out and looking at all the available merchants in the market, and gathering intel about which merchant would maximize Groupon’s value in the future ⇒ repeat. I love the fact that this is at the cutting edge of technology, and that I get to impact the entire Groupon, both North American and international as well. (This is the intimidating component as well!)

Where can we find you outside of work?

I am on okay cook (Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisines) and an excellent eater. I have won eating competitions (26 pieces of pizza in one instance). I used to play rugby and chess for school/college. I am a singer and a disaster of a dancer. Currently looking for friends who might go to fighting classes, dancing (you’ve already been warned), or climbing with me.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I eat a lot of sweets. One of our team members brought in a bag full of candies that were too much even for his kid (remember, this was right after Halloween, so the bag was really big). I have been constantly eating away all those candies, alone – without the slightest hint of guilt.

I always believed that with the agile methodology things would be fast paced, but at Groupon, I have seen some of the ideas go from concept to implementation within a few sprints.

Tell us about your first impressions of Groupon.

My first interactions with Groupon were with the recruiter, an alum, and the hiring manager. I got the sense that Groupon had a very open and inclusive culture because all of these folks focused on genuinely listening to my story and understanding what I wanted to do. I also felt that Groupon focused more on potential when it came to recruiting, rather than experience (slope vs intersection argument: Groupon hires more so for the slope). This means that not only does Groupon benefit from its employees, but it also has a keen interest in investing in their skills and career development.

What do your parents think you do?

They still can’t wrap their head around the fact that a tech laggard like me is handling a product that involves a lot of AI. “So your product has something to do with AI right? And you still take notes on paper? Son, you’re like from the stone age.”

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

How collaborative and organized the team is. In my team, I could find a textbook example of the Agile process, and every aspect of it. We have an excellent scrum master who works on the finer details of the agile process and drives it like a religion. I remember the entire team instinctively getting up and gathering around his table at 10:30 for the daily stand…even on Mondays, the only day of the week we don’t have that meeting. As the book, “Scrum”, says, he is driving the agile methodology into our bloodstream, as a way of work that would come naturally to us.

What about the Product culture?

Despite being a large organization, I can directly see how my product impacts the business. I have responsibilities that create a meaningful impact on the entire business. This also means that I should be extremely careful about the changes I make to the product given the level of impact it has on Groupon.

What has been surprising about working at Groupon? Or what would surprise candidates to find out?

Surprising to me: How fast-paced things work. I always believed that with the agile methodology things would be fast paced, but at Groupon, I have seen some of the ideas go from concept to implementation within a few sprints.

For external folks: Work hard, play hard culture. I’ve been at Groupon for a few months and already have been with various teams to dinners, improv shows, breweries, and even rock climbing. It is great to see that the teams truly enjoy being together whether at work or outside of work!

What’s your favorite view from the office?

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

My platform brings in the local commerce to the sales reps. Very direct connection.

What’s your favorite conference room?

What are your favorite local businesses?

Horror houses. I visited one and learned that Groupon has a big impact on the incoming traffic to the industry during the Halloween season.

What do you love about your team’s Software Development process?

How well defined the user stories are and how articulate the engineers are about the user stories. The dev team has a good ‘big picture view’ of how some of the changes might have downstream and upstream impact on the business. This makes it easy for me to connect the dev process with the other parts of the business and the respective stakeholders.

One of our software developers created a presentation which illustrated our process end to end. I use it all the time when I present to others about my product and process. Not only was it easy to understand, it was also quite comprehensive. Furthermore, we have a platform called Flux for our machine-learning models. As you might have already figured out, it’s a very hard concept to grasp. The engineer in charge of that explained it to me in such a manner that I could well understand what it meant for my product and for Groupon in general.

We have another engineer who has an amazing curiosity to learn. He makes sure to ask questions to hammer out the details. He sweats the details in meetings and finally when the products are built, there is no question as to any of the nuances being overlooked. I believe that this ability to articulate so well and curiosity, are key ingredients to a successful process.

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…