Celebrating Juneteenth with Blacks in Groupon & Allies

Celebrating Juneteenth with Blacks in Groupon & Allies

BLACKS IN GROUPON
June 19, 2018

Celebrating Juneteenth 2018

with Blacks in Groupon & Allies

Blacks in Groupon honored Juneteenth by sharing food and history with our members and allies across the organization in Chicago. Everyone came together to learn about the history of Juneteenth and the significance of the food and drinks that were chosen, specifically as an honor to our ancestors, their perseverance, and strength. We were joined by members across all the ERG population including Groupon for Latinos, Pride@Groupon, as well as several members of the recruiting and human resource teams. Rounding up the evening, we also were visited by COO Steve KrenzerWe are thankful for all of the support we received for this event and look forward to bringing more inclusive and diverse energy to our Groupon family!

So what is the story of Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is a celebration held every year on June 19th to acknowledge the Emancipation of the slaves of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Though President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the enslaved of those states were not told until June 19, 1865. With their newfound freedom, those who were formerly enslaved celebrated with certain foods, drinks, and clothing that had been restricted from indulging in as slaves. The celebratory food included barbecued meats, collard greens, red sugar water, etc. It was important for them to be allowed to gather and break bread as a family.

These celebrations continued for many years until those free of enslavement were harassed and killed when they tried to come together for a joyous occasion. However, times have changed and descendants are able to freely acknowledge the freedom of their forefathers. Many people don’t know what Juneteenth is or why it’s an important historical event which is why Blacks in Groupon & Allies wants to bring awareness to this holiday. It’s important for us to celebrate the great works and enduring strength of our forefathers by keeping the tradition of Juneteenth alive with traditional food and music; enlightening others with critical past events so we may all have a better understanding of how we—as dignified human beings—should move forward to ensure and promote growth and humanity for this country overall.

Written by BIG members LaTierra Randle and LaTrice

Neville Horton – Merchant Development Manager

Neville Horton – Merchant Development Manager

NEVILLE HORTON

Merchant Development Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2014

Keep an eye out for Neville: he might have a famous BBQ sauce one day and you heard it from us first!

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

As a Merchant Development Manager for the Home & Auto team (oil changes, car detailers, etc.), I help cultivate and maintain relationships with local businesses throughout all US markets. I love how no matter the size of the company, all business owners seem to carry a Fortune 500 swag.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

I got the sense when I first walked through the doors it was ‘a-happy-to-be-at-work’ type of culture. Work hard, play even harder. Things haven’t changed much since 2014.

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by the unconditional love my children show. Family is the end all be all for me. After a long day, seeing my kids run to the door to greet me when I come home is unmatched satisfaction and why I work so hard. It never gets old and it resets my energy meter immediately. Any parent will tell you it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

What’s your favorite local business?

Guitar Center. It’s the ultimate playground for the home studio musician/enthusiast.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us. 

I have literally been working on a BBQ sauce for roughly 7 years. I’m told it tastes great!

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

I work with a great team of driven and motivated individuals who are dedicated to not only personal success but making sure the entire unit succeeds. Of course within this unit is the local business merchant we are helping to achieve a positive end result. If the merchant is not winning, we are not winning. And that is not an acceptable option.

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

Around the time of my first year working at Groupon, I was coming out of the elevator and witnessed a giant T-Rex (a la Jurassic Park) casually walking the halls, scaring the snot out of co-workers, myself included.

Have you won any awards during your time here?

Merchant Development Groupon Green Award 2018 for Inspiration and President’s Club 2018.

What do your parents think you do?

Man, my whole family thinks I totally run the show. They are under the impression I can provide massive discounts on top of the existing deals we offer and one of my aunts is stilling waiting for me to finalize a refund dating back June 2012. Doesn’t matter one bit that I didn’t start working at Groupon until January 2014.

Why did you join Groupon Volunteers?

I’m a huge believer in giving one’s self for the enrichment of others, especially to those in need. This is something my mother instilled in me as a kid and what I try to teach my children today. Being a part of the Employee Volunteer Program just fell in line with my core beliefs.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

As a dad, all of my available free time is dedicated to my kids. A man of many hobbies, my top ‘go to’ I use to relax when the house is asleep is music production and editing.

So if you could do any other job for a day it would be….

Late night Quiet-storm radio DJ. I’m told I have the voice for it.

Reuben “Reubenomics” Wabomnor – Business Development Manager

Reuben “Reubenomics” Wabomnor – Business Development Manager

REUBEN “REUBENOMICS” WABOMNOR

Business Development Manager: Health, Beauty, & Wellness
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2015

Reuben and cats don’t bode well together, so how has he fared at a company with a slightly-odd obsession with felines? (Hint: really well!)

Alright so tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it?

I am a Business Development Manager for the Health, Beauty, & Wellness team. I’m responsible for helping business owners in this industry introduce their services to locals in their area. I genuinely like helping people, so any chance I get to help a new business owner reach their goals is enough for me to keep coming to this job every day.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m largely inspired by challenges, failure, and self-competition. I feel as though I perform best when the pressure is on and the seats are hot. I don’t know what it is exactly but whenever I have a bad month, thoughts just flood my mind on how I can bounce back, and it never fails.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

I thought that one of the hiring requirements involved owning or having a deep admiration for cats, and guess what? I hate cats, so I thought I wouldn’t get the position. Hate is a strong word though, cats are probably pleasant but since I’m allergic, they will always be my arch nemesis! What happens when I come in contact with them you ask? Think Will Smith in the movie “Hitch.”

What’d you do before you joined Groupon?

Before Groupon, I was the neighborhood’s favorite barista at Starbucks and a student. After I graduated, I joined Groupon. The rest is history.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I love hanging with family and my friends. I also LOVE playing basketball and creating art.

What’s your favorite local business?

PJs Footwear.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

A telephone rings—

Positive ideas flow–

Satisfied people

Want to join my team?

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

I’d be an astronaut because my charm is out of this world! (Was that cheesy?)

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favorite memory at Groupon involves an event that was held where all the Business Development Reps in my department went on a trolley ride around the city. Rae Sremmurd’s ‘Black Beatles” was a popular song at the time due to a viral video called the Mannequin challenge in which people have to remain as still as they can while the song plays. Long story short, we killed the challenge on that trolley! This led to a floor-wide challenge in the office which I spearheaded along with my manager, Matt Rolnick.

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

Being part of the local sales team makes me envision being on the frontline of this mission. The more quality deals we work to put on the platform, the more consumers get a chance to have an experience that motivates them to return.

What are you most proud of in your time here?

On the first day of training, we were told our goals. Each person had 16 weeks to close 16 contracts. I felt a pit in my gut and in and instantaneously raised my hand and asked, “What is the quickest this has ever been done?” to which the trainer replied, “9 weeks.” When I heard that, I told myself I’d do it in 8…and I did!

Have you won any awards in your time here?

I’ve won a few awards in my day, but I’m most proud of “Best Dressed.”

Valerie Smith – Customer Support Representative

Valerie Smith – Customer Support Representative

VALERIE M. SMITH

Customer Support Representative
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2014

What’s your favorite conference room?

Show us your team!

Team Eastwood ROCKS! We are the pilot team for Groupon+ and BeautyNow.

Me and Digital Asset Manager, Jeff Knutson, with our free copies of “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington from her speech at Groupon!

Valerie makes things happen! From maintaining top scores in Customer Service to orchestrating a last-minute Chinese business delegation office tour…with help from our CEO!

Tell us about your job. What do you?

My position as a Customer Support Representative has changed to a specialized position, where I work with my team on various types of projects from BeautyNow, Costco and much more in the pipeline! I’m also answering callback phone calls and what I love is solving problems in an effective where my customers are surprised that something so complicated can be solved in less than five minutes.

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

The most challenging thing was beginning my journey at Groupon! Only one week to train and know the processes for the Goods Channel and answering the phone calls for the first time and it was Black Friday! I had to take what I know from 15+ years of Customer Service experience from my previous employers and apply my strengths to master the customer service processes at Groupon, Inc.

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

When my Toastmasters colleague, Henry Jiang, contacted me, saying he had some Chinese Business Delegates visiting Chicago and that Groupon was top on the list of places to visit. This call came at the end of October of 2017. I asked when the delegates wanted to visit and he said the following week—which also happened to be earnings week! Did I make it happen? Yes, I did! I had emailed Groupon CEO Rich Williams and he responded immediately, getting me in touch with the right people. Within two business days, the Chinese Business Delegation was scheduled to visit the following week. That was a quick turnaround!

It was an amazing experience to have the Chinese Business Delegation from a high-end executives network called Zhisland take a tour of Groupon and meet key stakeholders at Groupon and have a Q&A session. Being part of the tour and Q& A session was a great experience from an international standpoint.

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

Effective communication and understanding the customer’s bottom line. Also, I add value to each and every Groupon customer experience when I speak with them on the phone.

Have you won any awards during your time here?

My Q&A and Customer Service scores are always 95-100% monthly because I add value to each customer I come in contact with on a daily basis. The awards I have obtained so far are 2015 Rep of the Month on my team; November 2016, December 2016, and February 2017 80/80 CSAT winner giving exceptional customer service; and October 2017 Exceptional Customer Service during CS Week.

Valerie with her sister, Sandra, at the Groupon holiday party

So take us back to life pre-Groupon. What were you doing? How did you get here?

Before Groupon, I was working for a credit union as a Human Resources Associate within Learning & Development and Recruiting with my HR Director. My coworker at the credit union received an invite to apply for an onsite interview at Groupon headquarters in Chicago. This coworker knew my energy levels and how I always wanted to work at a global company. He knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime. He emailed me and I applied for a part-time CS position to get in the door with my customer service skills! The rest is history.

What was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?

My first impression of Groupon was how much things change. If you cannot adapt to change quickly, you have to make a decision if you are in or not!

Tell us about your involvement with Blacks in Groupon!

I joined BIG because I wanted to be a part of the Diversity & Inclusion movement happening at Groupon. I’m the Marketing and Communication Lead and I’m looking forward to spreading the voices within BIG onto the People Blog and other marketing channels.

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

Talent Development: I have a passion to train and mentor talent to see them grow within their strengths and placed in roles that would allow them to shine!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Seeing All For One perform on the first floor of our building in Chicago It was so much fun. It was an afternoon full of FUN!

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I’m a professional flautist!

Who or what inspires you?

Speakers like Oprah, Les Brown, Lisa Nichols, Eric Thomas, John C. Maxwell, Jim Rohn and Tony Robbins! I love every last speaker for being transparent on what it means to be intentional with action, behind your goals. I live that daily. I mean what I say, I mean what I do!

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I’m involved in Toastmasters, taking on leadership roles, improving speaking techniques, and am a social media queen training others on how to utilize social media channels. There is one passion I do have and that is training individuals to develop their own personal brand!

Carlos Vale – Head of Diversity Recruitment

Carlos Vale – Head of Diversity Recruitment

CARLOS VALE
Head of Diversity Recruitment
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2017

Rainbow Flag on Apple iOS 11.3

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. 👏👏🏾👏🏿

Why is it important for Groupon to support and champion the efforts of Pride@Groupon?

Pride gives us all an opportunity to reflect on what we can do for ourselves, and for others. It’s a celebration of not only the LGBTQ community but just community, in general.

How does it feel to work for an organization that embraces the LGBTQ+ community inside and outside the office?

As a gay man, it feels amazing to work for a company that embraces the LGBTQ+ community–it’s one less thing for me to have to worry about, which gives me more time to focus on impact and results. Part of why I do what I do is because I know that there are people out there in other parts of the world that are looking for a place to belong–a place that will accept them as who they are; I want those people to know that there are places and that Groupon is one of them.

How will you be celebrating Pride Month?

I’ll be supporting by attending a variety of Pride-focused events, and of course, attending the Pride parade here in Chicago.

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!

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.

You recently won a Groupon Green Award…congrats! Tell us about your award and how you felt when you found out you won.

I was nominated for a Green Award for Respect, Integrity, and Inclusion and I was nominated by my friend Michael Galfas. When I first learned that I won, I was in shock! It’s not very often that you are recognized by your peers, so this means a lot. It encourages me to continue to live Groupon’s values both in and outside of work. It means a lot knowing that my company recognizes these qualities in its employees across the globe.

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.

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.

Vrnda – Business Development Representative

Vrnda – Business Development Representative

VRNDA

Business Development Representative
Phoenix, AZ
Joined: 2017

We pride ourselves on helping local business owners achieve their goals, and Vrnda is proof of that…on both sides of the coin. After having partnered with Groupon to boost her small business, she’s now behind the scenes helping other business owners do the same!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory? 

My favorite memory was during my initial training when I started at Groupon. I was shadowing a Business Development Manager and I got to observe her relationship with a merchant. It highlighted for me that I could share and not sell and that genuine interest and concern for the business owner had a place on the sales floor at Groupon.

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

I talk to my former self! I owned a small business and ran a Groupon. I talk to the people responsible for maintaining main street businesses. The people that keep communities strong and innovation alive. On really great days, I get to contribute to an individual’s dream of living out their passion and supporting that little shingle they were brave enough to hang!

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

Anything with math….so everything. It is always a challenge to translate the heart and soul of a business into numbers!

Who or what inspires you?

The right of every person to live the “American Dream” or have the fullest expression of their passion….too corny? Ok, the opportunity to get to be exactly who I am and know that every day I have the opportunity to share with one person that their skill, dream, service matters!

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

The fact that I owned a small business and ran a Groupon. I was a pretty new business owner and had literally worked every day that first year and was exhausted. The Groupon call came at a time when things could have gone either way. As a single mom (at the time) of two teenagers, the boost in income literally put clothes on their backs and food on our table. To have the opportunity to pay that forward is the accomplishment I am most grateful and proud of.

What do your parents think you do?

“You make those dooda thingies that are on my computer sight thingy right? Isn’t that just a lovely thing.”

Tell us something about you that’d surprise us!

Vrnda, my name, is a Hindu goddess. I used to hate my name because I could never just walk into a store and get a name keychain…and the list goes on. Now, I have a huge piece of artwork on my back that is a representation of the Hindu goddess Vrnda and I like my name!

You’re a member of quite a few of our employee resource groups. Why do you participate?

I’m a member of Veterans at Groupon to give back and support the 30 years my husband served in the Army before retiring. I’m also a member of Blacks in Groupon to support initiatives that are inclusive and support diversity. Lastly, I joined Pride at Groupon to encourage equality and safe free expression within the workplace.

So what were you up to before joining Groupon?

I am a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and Certified Dog Trainer. I was also a Mentor for Animal Behavior College and CATCH Trainer’s Academy. I owned a Kennel and Behavior Center that specialized in canine behavior issues that included aggression, separation anxiety, and destructive behavior within the home. I am also a 200 CYT with 100 additional hours toward my 500 RYT.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

CATS! CATS! CATS! My husband and I have modern Siamese and Sphynx cats (we were married on April Fool’s Day). I also enjoy yoga and puzzles.

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

Professional cotton candy taster…because cotton candy.

What’s your favorite local business?

Growing up on Virginia Blue Crabs, my favorite place is Lee Lee’s International Market because I can pick up 30 or so just for me any day of the week!

Sales roles exist at other companies, so what makes selling at Groupon unique?

I believe in the product! I’m not a salesperson but I’m a heck of a share person AND I get to play my music and dance around all day long while making the world a better place!

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Merchants are talking–

Small businesses are growing–

Hometowns are thriving

Blacks in Groupon hosts 2017 year-end mixer

Blacks in Groupon hosts 2017 year-end mixer

BLACKS in GROUPON

Reflecting on 2017 at BiG’s End-of-Year Mixer

Written by BiG Co-chairs Daryl Billingsley & Jasmine Alleyne-Gill

 

Well, it has been a challenging, rewarding, hilarious, and infuriating year, but despite all of that, over 50 members of Blacks in Groupon came together earlier this month for an end-of-year mixer to reflect on 2017. Groupon Chief Marketing Officer and former sponsor, Vinayak Hegde, virtually kicked off the event from Seattle and spoke about and improving Groupon’s marketplace and talent pools through I&D initiatives, a key focal point for 2018.

We had plenty of other topics to talk about while we mingled. Between politics, reality TV, music (shout out to Kendrick and Solange), creative writing (Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, Donald Glover, Jordan Peele: we see you!), there are plenty of things to celebrate and be proud of. At Groupon, 2017 was also full of its own twists and turns, but we have an amazing opportunity to redirect our momentum as we head into 2018. Don’t be alarmed, as we are “back in stride again!”

We have collectively pledged to bring BiG the most relative, positive, and encouraging content and programs in 2018. Some of what we’re excited to tackle in the upcoming year includes: reigniting our professional development series; increasing value to marketplace via an initiative focused on connecting with merchants in urban communities; showing a screening of a documentary written by two Chicago teens featured in Ebony Magazine; and weekly themes to celebrate Black History Month.

We want to challenge perspectives and push members and allies to constantly strive for excellence. The overall success of BiG is directly correlated to our members’ success professionally and this vision cannot be carried out without the support and participation of our Grouponers. So…let’s reclaim our time! (We love you, Auntie Maxine.)

Mike Erickson – Corporate Recruiter

Mike Erickson – Corporate Recruiter

MIKE ERICKSON

Corporate Recruiter
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2013

You won’t believe what this recruiter wants you to do on a phone screen.

What teams do you recruit for?

Sales in Chicago and Phoenix

What’s your advice for someone interested in applying at Groupon?

Be yourself and only apply to roles that you are most interested in.

Anything a candidate should know about how to work with you during the recruiting process?

Be prepared to tell me why you’re excited about the role: I love chatting with folks who have that enthusiasm for the position that they are applying for!

What qualities do the most successful sales reps have?

First and foremost, ya gotta WANT to be in sales. Sales is tough: you have to know why you want to be in a sales role in order to succeed. Whether you are money motivated or passionate about helping small businesses, that “why” has to be a clear motivator for you to keep pushing through those tough sales days. Once you have that, I find that the people who know how to nail that balance being coachable and being self-sufficient are our strongest sales reps. We have a great team of mentors and leaders here who know how to be successful, but at the same time, they won’t make your calls for you. Striking that balance is key for finding that success.

What’s your proudest Groupon accomplishment?

Being a Sales Recruiter is usually a lot of crazy ups and downs in terms of volume. One of our craziest times was the opening of our sales office in Phoenix; everyone was all-hands-on-deck to get quality people in the office and making sales and it was all during the holiday season. We filled the office then and I continue to fill it today, now being the primary recruiter for the Phoenix office. I love that office a ton and I’m happy I get to interact with them on a daily basis!

What’s the #1 thing you wish all candidates did?

Beatbox during phone screens.

Tell us more about the Phoenix office! What’s it like there?

The Phoenix office has such an infectious and positive energy to it. I’ve visited a handful of times recently, and as soon as you walk in the door it’s hard not to have a smile on your face. I will describe it as best as I can:

As you enter the office, you see the gleaming smile of our Sales Trainer, Jabril Baker, giving some solid sales advice while boppin’ to whatever jam is being played by Marlon Evans, one of the sales managers. I turn to my left and say “WAZZUP” to Kelly Light, the Site Director, and give Sam, the Phoenix HR Business Partner, a high five. I keep walkin’ past all the sales folks, giving as many finger guns as humanly possible, then make my way to the crown jewel of the office; the Coke Freestyle machine. I pour myself a refreshing beverage then head back to my makeshift desk space. As I’m about to start doing some work, my senses are absolutely overloaded with the fresh scent of the peanut-butter stuffed pretzels, the snack of snacks. I grab a handful and try to hold back happy tears. “This is paradise,” I say to no one in particular.

“The only Keane album I enjoyed was Strangeland.”

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

I get to hire people who help small businesses find success in an increasingly big-business world. I’m super into that. I love small businesses and we get to help them succeed.

Talk about your involvement with Blacks in Groupon (BiG) – what does your partnership with them look like?

I’m the talent partner for Blacks In Groupon (BiG). My goal is to provide resources to the group as to how to utilize their networks to bring in top talent, as well as being a resource for current members in terms of internal options if they want to search for a new role at the company.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

I do a lot of comedy stuff here in Chicago, and in April of 2014 I had my first live show. I was so nervous to actually perform in front of people for the first time, and a few minutes before showtime, I look out into the audience and my entire recruiting team was in the front row. This was the first time it really hit me how lucky I was to work for this great company. Here was this team that barely knew me, front row of a show in which I danced around the stage like Paula Deen. I’ll never forget that for as long as I live.

Who inspires you?

Folks who wear shorts during the winter because “they don’t get cold.” Hehe, just kidding. I have been inspired by a wide variety of things, but mostly musical theater, baseball games, and my brother Samb.

Do you beatbox on phone screens?

What was your first impression of Groupon?

Whoa! What a cool place. How neat are these swinging chairs! Let me go to the 4th floor to check that out. Oh god, I am locked in a stairwell.

What’s your favorite local business?

Southside Sub Shop in Elmira, NY. They have the best bread in the world. They also do this thing where they add just a smidge too much mayonnaise, but it mixes with the bread and hot peppers so well that you don’t even care at all.

What’s something that candidates are surprised to learn about Groupon?

The vast majority of the company has breakfast at least a few times a week.

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

My dream job is to be what Andy Richter is to Conan – the late night host’s sidekick.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

The only Keane album I enjoyed was Strangeland.

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