Lekshmy P R – Software Development Engineer in Bangalore

Lekshmy P R – Software Development Engineer in Bangalore

LEKSHMY P R 

Software Development Engineer – Push Marketing Engineering
Bangalore, India
Joined: 2013

An exciting innovator on the Push Marketing team, Lekshmy makes sure that Groupon’s communications are impactful and drive people to the website.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

The 2017 Grace Hopper Conference in Austin, Texas. It was my first time travelling internationally. It was amazing to meet all the wonderful women working in Groupon Engineering from around the world. It was a very well-organised event by Groupon. A gang of 60 women from our offices across the globe came together with the goal of hiring and branding. We were one of the Gold sponsors, with a grand stall next to LinkedIn and Microsoft. We had 8 iPads where the students could check themselves in and attend their interviews.

Can you talk more about your experience at Grace Hopper and what you learned as an engineer?

I attended multiple sessions by leaders from other companies like Google, Amazon, etc. The person who inspired me the most was Anna Patterson who won the Women of Vision Award. She was a mother of three but still led the Artificial Intelligence team at Google. Her journey was something I could really relate to. Her speech had a really big impact on me as an Engineer because I always thought that married life could challenge my career as an engineer. But after meeting all those successful women who have great careers along with wonderful families, I was so moved and inspired. My perception totally changed.

Each time I heard those amazing women speak, all I could think about was when I would be able to present a session at Grace Hopper. My career goal is to have a journey that’s significant and inspirational enough to encourage women to stay with Engineering and not shy away from a career in Tech.

 

What was your first role here? How did you get to where you are now?

I joined Groupon as a fresher. Since then, Groupon has moulded the engineer inside me to think outside the box, learn, experiment, attempt, fail, and succeed. My first role was really challenging and exciting. As I had prior experience with RoR in college, I was paired up with my mentor to design, develop, and roll out a content management system that could run the customer support page FAQ and the first level of the questionnaire.

This was my first experience in designing a service with such a scale. Perhaps the first time I dealt with the real-life problems of scaling, caching memory leaks, etc. As I was a fresher just out of college, my designs were reviewed and revisited multiple times. I had to redesign and redo my coding multiple times. After six months of design, implementation, and testing effort, we were able to successfully launch the service to production. Though it missed the initial deadline of five months, I was on cloud nine. Those six months were a great learning experience to learn more about the systems, frameworks, and real-life challenges at Groupon. I’m really thankful to my mentor for trusting such a big assignment to me as a fresher.

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

I work as a developer for Push Marketing team in Engineering. We handle sending emails, push notifications and SMS. I love the way Groupon challenges its engineers with new and innovative problems. I deal with one of the most important services in the Groupon Push flow. My service takes care of sending emails, push notifications, and SMS to customers. We deal with multiple services to pick the relevant deals and the best offers available for a customer.  

The service is developed Play Framework using Java. It handles a scale of 8KTPS. We send almost 300mm emails and 100mm push notifications every day. We use rabbitmq for the asynchronous queuing of messages before they are processed for sending.

Where can we find you outside of work?

I love swimming, dancing, singing, driving. If not any of these, I will just go shopping.   🙂

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve worked on?

Of these 4.5 years at Groupon, there were many exciting and challenging tasks I got to work on. The most challenging one being establishing the performance of a legacy system that handles a scale of 8KTPS. Debugging, analyzing, configuring the infrastructure, load testing, and slowly improving the performance without affecting production were all challenging tasks.

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What was your first impression of Groupon?

All I knew was that Groupon sold restaurant and spa deals.

What do your parents think you do?

They think I am like those geeks who spend 90% of their time on laptops, like they normally see in movies.

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

My team and I ensure that the right deals reach the user every day without them having to search through millions of deals.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I acted in two episodes of a TV serial. As I pursued dancing and singing from a young age, I was a regular performer for various events at school and club programmes. One day when I was around 10, one of my neighbours who was directing a dance-based TV series gave me an opportunity to perform in two episodes.

Have you won any awards during your time here? Green Award, team award, etc.?

I have won four quarterly awards, Question of the Month AwardGEEKon Local Award, and the most important Employee of the Year Award.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

Groupon invests a lot on an employee’s personal development, be it the mentorship program, personal growth programs, training sessions, or workshops. We have many committees where we can have discussions about tech. Sometimes people just ping on HipChat to get together for a table topic discussion.

What’s your favorite part about your team’s Software Development process?

We have a very direct impact on the business’s bottom line.  The emails and push notifications we send drive business to the website. The variations in the open/click rates of our emails with each feature are exciting as they signify the impact on revenue.

We see that you are a member of Women@Groupon.  What do you like about being in this ERG?

Women@Groupon Bangalore is a very positive forum that has widespread activities like mentorship programs and training for women. The togetherness among the women in coordinating various activities brings a liveliness to the office.

What’s been surprising about working here?

Be it a fresher or a senior, Groupon has challenges and opportunities for anyone who would like to try out new things in their career.

Vim or emacs?

VIM. More user-friendly commands than shortcuts I feel.

Name your favorite programming language.

Ruby

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs

Lauren Forster – Merchandising Strategy EMEA in London

Lauren Forster – Merchandising Strategy EMEA in London

LAUREN FORSTER 

Merchandising Strategy EMEA
London, UK
Joined: 2017

Lauren is big on taking risks. Whether it’s jumping from a 12-person company to Groupon or jumping out of planes in New Zealand, she’s always ready to hit the ground running.

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

I’m responsible for creating the Goods quarterly merchandising campaign strategy for EMEA. My main role is to analyse internal customer trends, external market data, and financial forecasts to establish which and when supply needs to be pushed to the customer, as well as identifying new opportunities in the market. I work in close contact with the Dublin-based Marketing team to ensure their promotional plans are aligned and drive traffic to our newly-sourced deals. Once the campaign calendar is established, I create weekly deadlines and targets for each country in EMEA to ensure strong supply will be delivered. I also work closely with the in-country merchandising managers to make sure the correct deals are sourced to drive the campaign performance.

I love working across multiple countries; my wider team is spread across 8 different countries and this means that no day is the same! The people at Groupon also make this role exciting. I work with colleagues in Merchandising, Marketing, Buying and with directors who have a wealth of experience and are great to learn from.

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

Q4 planning (October-December) is the best but most challenging part of the role. This is the busiest time of the year for retail and if you execute the right strategy it can be a real game changer. As Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas fall into this period it means forward planning and regular stakeholder communication is critical. This year I’ll be travelling across EMEA to present the plan to every office!

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

Young and evolving. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in new projects and identify areas you want to work. There are also a lot of chances to get involved outside of work too: netball teams, running clubs, and volunteering, to name a few.

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

All of our projects focus on making the website, emails, and marketing most relevant and effective for the customer, with the goal of increased engagement. After every campaign, we deep dive into performance by country and identify ways we can improve or decide what we need to take a different angle that will better suit the customer trends. We are also improving our retargeting through marketing channels and improving our understanding of the customer to make sure we show users the best content available.

Describe the proudest moment you’ve had at Groupon.

Being nominated for the People Blog!

Work with me!

What do your parents think you do?

I messaged my parents about this, their response: “I’ve no idea what you do!”  I think I’ve got my work cut out here.

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

After university, I joined the Graduate Scheme at Ocado where I undertook placements in buying, supply chain, trading analytics and merchandising. This was a great experience, providing me with a breadth of knowledge across core retail departments, which I use regularly in my current role. After the scheme, I moved permanently into merchandising to launch a premium online beauty store, a joint collaboration by Marie Claire magazine and Ocado. The company had 12 people in total…a very different size than Groupon! After that, I decided I wanted to work on a larger scale and across international markets, which is when I identified Groupon as a great opportunity to further develop my career!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Every last Friday of the month we have International drinks where we ‘travel across’ the different nationalities at Groupon and sample the best food and drink from the nominated country. What better way to bring in the weekend!

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

I’m definitely one to fill the evening out with friends for dinner and drinks. I like to try new places and cuisines around London, which are not hard to find! When the office is so conveniently located in ‘the city’ it’s hard not to enjoy a drink or two on the riverbank after work. I also like to exercise; I play netball and tennis and enjoy running regularly (although I’ve yet to join the Groupon running club!)

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

I’d love to be a pilot (I’m a sucker for a good view) or a property developer. I like having a project, working out how I can improve it and making the most out of what you have available.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I’ve jumped out of a plane from 15,000 feet in New Zealand!

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Ajay Arora – Regional Sales Director in London

Ajay Arora – Regional Sales Director in London

AJAY ARORA

Regional Sales Director
London, UK
Joined: 2013

“Ajay has stood out among his peers at Groupon as someone who is focused on delivering business strategy and great customer experience. He is innovative, not content to accept the status quo, and builds for the long term. He leads his team from the front, developing their skills with his wealth of experience, enabling their success and letting them take credit,” Jonathan Starkings, Director of Travel, EMEA

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

I am Regional Sales Director for UK, Ireland, Spain, and Italy. My job is to make sure every International travel deal that’s published to the Groupon platform is of top-notch quality. I always ask myself these questions for every deal, “Does this campaign give our customers the best price?; Will it inspire them to travel?; Will it provide convenience to buy and redeem?” These questions reflect the unique Groupon offering of price, discovery, and convenience.

I love what I do because I’m a passionate traveler myself who seeks culture, nature, and food.  I want to make it easier for other people to travel, to see and do things which otherwise would take them a lot of effort to research and book. I love the fact that change is constant; every day is different and it is a constant adventure. My line manager has given me complete autonomy over my responsibilities. I select the time, tasks, and strategies, and he supplies the goals!

A typical day for me is reviewing travel deals with my team, having a few Zoom meetings, and thinking about new deals to launch. When I do get a moment in the day, I like to daydream about traveling to destinations I haven’t been to yet.    🙂

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

Managing teams, merchants, and customers in other countries where language can be a barrier. I try to balance merchant, Groupon, and customer expectations. It’s an ongoing and a neverending challenge that keeps me on my toes.

Who or what inspires you?

The new graduates who join the Groupon team remind me of and reinforce my commitment to the passion and hunger to succeed.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

It’s very people focused; the level of autonomy makes me feel like you’re running your own startup with multiple hats on and senior management is very approachable.

What’s your favorite conference room?

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

I strive to find and promote highest quality travel deals that perfectly balance our customers’ desires for price, discovery, and convenience. By providing the best service that I can, I’m doing my part to make sure everyone knows to check Groupon first!

Describe the proudest moment you’ve had at Groupon.

Last October, I was promoted to a Regional Sales Director. It was a very happy day because I was recognized for my hard work and focus on the customer.

Have you won any awards? 

I have been nominated for a Groupon Green Award for EMEA.

What do your parents (or children!) think you do?

My 3-year-old old daughter thinks am talking to Peppa Pig when I’m on video calls.   🙂

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Are you a member of any ERGs? If so, why did you join?

I’m a member of Women@Groupon. At first, I didn’t realize that anyone could participate, so when I found out I could join, I signed right up. I love learning about the perspectives and experiences of other Grouponers.

Where were you before you joined Groupon?

I worked for an online travel agency which is exactly the kind of vendor I try to recruit in my current work. I always wanted to experience the other side of the fence, and I’m so glad I did.

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

You’ll either find me in the park with the kids if the sun is out or in the kitchen cooking something. I also read a lot and keep current on tech and startups in travel.

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

Mayor of London: I can’t imagine the challenges and excitement of running such a big and successful city!

What’s your favorite local business?

Pho & Bun – I love Vietnamese food!

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

What makes Groupon’s offerings unique for small businesses is that they get to acquire new customers without the fear of losing money on advertising.  And I can honestly tell them that the ROI is always positive. Not many platforms can offer that.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

In Groupon we trust – –

With Local, Travel, or Goods – –

Go check Groupon first!

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I surprised my family by telling them that I was moving to England only after my MBA application and student loan were approved and after I got my student visa. I wanted to make sure I could get out before I told them.

Todd Webb – Senior Program Manager, Engineering

Todd Webb – Senior Program Manager, Engineering

TODD WEBB

Senior Program Manager, Engineering
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2011

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED with Todd Webb.

What was your first role here? How did you get to where you are now?

I started as a Product Manager with a charter to automate our merchant payments processes with zero lines of code and two stellar senior engineers. I worked with that team for six years building new systems, growing the team, and cultivating a strong team culture. As my team evolved, I took on a Senior Product Management and Senior Engineering Manager role and we delivered many important new capabilities. Throughout those six years, I had tons of opportunities to learn and grow. In fact, I’m a big believer in continuous learning, so it was a no-brainer when I jumped at an opportunity to work on a multi-year program with our global sales and service teams. That’s the team I work with today, as a Senior Program Manager.

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

As a Senior Program Manager, I serve as a leader, guide, strategist, and connector on a multi-year effort to level-up our sales and service processes around the world. I love being able to connect the right people, to help colleagues discover new ideas and ways of thinking about the problems we are trying to solve and to help avoid hidden obstacles and overcome big roadblocks.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favorite moment was when my team hung a giant 25-foot—and very presidential—”Mission Accomplished” banner when we reached a major milestone toward the end of a big new release (but we actually weren’t completely done yet). We still have the banner and hang it up now and then.

Where can we find you outside of work? What are your hobbies, side projects, or interests?

I’m a husband, dad, and avid reader, so if you found me outside of work I’d probably be with my family or buried in a book. I’m also a passionate supporter of Montessori education, and if you caught me in Northern Michigan I’d either be sailing or snow skiing.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve worked on?

The biggest challenge I’ve worked on was building a great engineering team and building a global merchant payment system with a dozen different services, paying billions of dollars to merchants, all from scratch.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

I’ve known Groupon from day one. I was an executive at a small consulting company and we helped augment Groupon’s early engineering staff (when there were less than 10 employees). I knew it was fun and crazy, and that was my first impression when we joined forces and I became an employee.

What do your parents think you do?

They think I build great teams that build complex systems.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

Groupon’s engineering culture has evolved a lot as we’ve grown, but the part that stays the same—and that I appreciate most—is the openness and willingness to help each other.

Name your favorite programming language.

Clojure, because I really dig code-as-data and immutable data structures.

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

My work has always been about doing the right thing for merchants. That’s where I really connect with Groupon’s mission.

What’s your favorite local business?

My favorite local business is A Toda Madre in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I can juggle and ride a unicycle*. Or at least I used to ride one, it’s been a long time. I learned when I was about 14 at a community center where a lot of local professionals used to practice. It was my first experience with a community of people who loved to teach their craft. One of them was a fella named Paul Kyprie, AKA Zeemo. Look him up. He’s amazing!

*Editor’s note: another Grouponer in tech, John Stokvis, can balance three chairs on his chin. So many talents!

What ERGs are you a member of?

Women@Groupon and Parents@Groupon.

Why did you join? What do you enjoy about your participation?

I led Parents@Groupon for a few years. It’s a great group of people who are eager to learn from each other.

Vim or emacs? Why?

Spacemacs (best of both worlds).

Laura Hamilton – Group Product Manager

Laura Hamilton – Group Product Manager

LAURA HAMILTON

Preferred pronouns: She/Her
Group Product Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2014

Laura and Groupon seem to be a perfect match. She brought 10+ years of strong product management experience to Groupon. In turn, Groupon provided an opportunity to get scrappy, make an impact, and walk by a cat spaceship every day. (What else do you really need?)

What was your first role here? How did you get to where you are now?

I started off as product manager for the checkout page, and I gradually took on more responsibility. I took on Consumer Web in Q1 2016, LivingSocial in Q4 2016, and International in Q1 2017. Today, I head up product for Consumer Web, International, and LivingSocial.

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

I have worked in product management for 10+ years, at a wide range of company sizes from founder to seed-stage startup to hypergrowth phase to a public company. I started my product management career at Enova 10+ years ago, where I led the product team focused on new initiatives. We launched several new businesses and product lines during my tenure, including the installment product in the US and the Pounds to Pocket brand in the UK. After Enova, I worked at a couple of early-stage tech startups. Then I joined Groupon in 2014 — Groupon still has the scrappiness, innovation, and bias for action typical of startups, while also having massive global scale.

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

I always try to tie my product strategy and roadmap to Groupon’s mission of being the daily habit in local commerce. Whether it’s adding more structured data to the cards on the browse feed, making our pricing clearer and more transparent, launching new products such as Groupon+ and BeautyNow, it’s all in support of our mission to connect customers with local businesses.

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

In 2016, when I took over consumer web product, our mobile website was very outdated and lacked many key features that the mobile app had. Over the course of 2016, I led a major effort to redesign the mobile website, and we overhauled almost every page in the site. It was a big undertaking that involved a dozen different teams, but after several months and a few dozen A/B tests, we had a much more organized and modern website.

Take us back to 2014. What was your first impression of Groupon?

I think I was going to the Geekfest meetup for the first time, and the instructions said to look for the “cat spaceship.” I was very confused about what a cat spaceship was, and why it would be in an office. I was somewhat nervous that I would miss this landmark; however, upon seeing the cat spaceship, I realized that my fears were unfounded.

What’s something that has surprised you while working at Groupon?

Groupon’s Optimize team, which owns the experimentation framework and methodology, has a novel (patent-pending) process for the analysis of A/B experiments. It uses a technique called group sequential analysis, which originated with heart valve studies in the 1970s. It’s essentially a statistically rigorous way to “peek” at experiment data while limiting false positives. It has allowed us to experiment much faster, which in turn has led to faster improvements in the customer experience.

So what’s unique about Groupon’s Product culture?

Groupon is unique in that Product Managers can take on a ton of responsibility—whole product lines, or product suites—while still operating at massive, global scale. At startups, you can have broad responsibility but not at scale; at most publicly traded companies, you can have global scale but you only own a small piece. At Groupon, product managers can have broad responsibility as well as massive impact at scale.

“Groupon is unique in that Product Managers can take on a ton of responsibility — whole product lines, or product suites — while still operating at massive, global scale.”

What’s your favorite part about your team’s Software Development process?

Software development at Groupon is very solution-oriented. If there’s a bug or production issue, the discussion is immediately around how to solve the issue and how to prevent it in the future. We don’t have unproductive fingerpointing conversations. When there is a production outage, the discussion is around “how do we improve tools and processes to prevent this from happening in the future,” rather than “so and so made a mistake.”

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

After six months of work across dozens of engineering teams, we successfully migrated the LivingSocial website and mobile apps to the Groupon tech stack and celebrated with a cutover cake and champagne at 3 am.

Name your favorite programming language.

I think it depends on the problem domain, but in general, I am partial to python. The syntax is natural. I don’t need to define variable types or worry about semicolons. Also, python has a very thorough set of supporting libraries, including a lot of machine learning and analytics related libraries.

Tabs or spaces?

Spaces

Vim or emacs?

Vim

What do your parents think you do?

I asked my parents what they thought I did, and their answers were actually pretty close. Both my parents have PhDs in economics. My mother said, “I think you handle the website. I would love to know.” My father said, “Management/analysis.”

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I love checking out new local restaurants and fitness studios. I live right by Restaurant Row, and there are so many fantastic local businesses in my area. There are new ones popping up all the time — it’s hard for me to keep track!

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

It’s so hard to pick just one. I love Big & Little’s; their gourmet fast food is so delicious.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I have done two startups – neither of them successful.

Alicia Babich – Sales Training Manager, Onboarding

Alicia Babich – Sales Training Manager, Onboarding

ALICIA BABICH

Sales Training Manager, Onboarding
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about the evolution of Sales training at Groupon. 

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your proudest Groupon accomplishment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who or what inspires you?

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

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.

Ashley Doran – International Tax Manager

Ashley Doran – International Tax Manager

ASHLEY DORAN

International Tax Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2016

Visits from the Abominable Snowman and team pajama parties aren’t necessarily things you might enjoy while working in public accounting. But for Ashley, working at Groupon means you can work hard while enjoying all of the oddities that come along with working at a quirky, global company.

First off…can you write a Groupon haiku?

With so many deals – –

possibilities endless – –

what to do today?

So tell us about your job! What do you do and why do you love it?

I am part of the Tax department at Groupon, specifically the International Tax team. I mostly work in the area of transfer pricing, which encompasses all of the intercompany transactions that occur between our related party entities. We have to manage and report these transactions appropriately to foreign tax authorities and there are a lot of rules!

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

About six months after I started, I was asked to help out with the sale/divestiture of some of our foreign entities. I didn’t have prior experience in that sort of M&A work, and one of our Tax Senior Managers left Groupon for another opportunity before the sale was completed. It challenged me to get up to speed very quickly. There were a lot of non-tax consequences that had to be considered, so there was input from many teams: Accounting, Corporate Development, Legal, Communications, etc.

This experience gave me an opportunity to work with people from all over the Finance organization, in a way that someone at my level probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do working somewhere else. We all helped each other through the process and my relationships with those teams are stronger now as we continue to tackle new issues and projects.

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

By structuring our intercompany transactions in a specific way, we allow ourselves to position Groupon global operations for future success, which translates to more Groupon deals and more opportunities to make Groupon the daily local commerce habit.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

There is a huge assortment of random things I’ve witnessed at the office, from team pajama parties to someone walking around dressed in an Abominable Snowman costume on the first day of winter. Also, all manner of quirky signs and desk decorations mean you can witness something new every day.

What are your biggest accomplishments?

The personal accomplishments I’m most proud of are completing my CPA and running my first marathon. I studied and sat for my CPA while working in public accounting, which required a lot of working hours. I had to stay very focused and really dedicate a lot of my free time to studying. It was so gratifying when I finally passed all the tests. Also, last fall I ran my first marathon in Chicago! As someone who loves running, it was something I had been working toward for a long time. I hope to run another one in the next couple of years in my home city of NYC!

So how did you get to Groupon?

I worked in public accounting at KPMG for a few years in NYC before going to a smaller in-house tax role at a private company. When I decided to move to Chicago, I knew I wanted to stick with an in-house position. The fact that Groupon was publicly-traded, and had a large international footprint meant I would be exposed to a lot of new issues and likely be learning a lot. I was not wrong!

What’s unique about the culture at Groupon as opposed to public accounting?

The culture at Groupon is definitely what makes it unique. Groupon’s background as a start-up combined with its laidback culture makes for a fun work environment. Despite the challenges that sometimes come with a laidback environment (at least for type-A accountant types), there is much to learn at Groupon and I am not done learning yet!

What do your parents think you do?

Simply “taxes.”

Be part of a global team.

What do you enjoy about being a member of Women@Groupon?

There are a lot of women in leadership positions at Groupon. I want to get to know them, learn more about how they navigate their careers and be exposed to more of my peers who want the same!

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by people who are intelligent, hardworking, and collaborative. At the end of the day, I think most everyone is just trying to do a good job, at work and in life. It helps to help each other!

Where can we find you outside of work? 

I love to run—with or without my dog, Hank—especially in Lincoln Park along the lakefront. I also enjoy cooking and have been trying to expand my skills with some cooking classes at Sur La Table. My fiance, Mike, indulges me by coming along, too!

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

I’d love to do something creative for a day like photography or interior decorating. No spreadsheets necessary.

What’s your favorite local business?

Taco Joint!

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I took piano lessons from the time I was 6 until 19!

Martha Szatkowski – Senior Director, Global Risk in San Francisco

Martha Szatkowski – Senior Director, Global Risk in San Francisco

MARTHA SZATKOWSKI

Senior Director, Global Risk
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2013

If you’re looking for an inspiring leader—or a workout buddy in Chicago—Martha, Senior Director of Global Risk, is your go-to.

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

This is a tough question to answer in a short way! I oversee a Global team that is made up of three main functions: merchant escalations, recoveries, and analytics. That doesn’t totally capture our mission and overall work, of course. I could go on in depth but it’s so interesting that I don’t want everyone coming to me and asking to work on my team.  🙂

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

I am challenged every day in my role. That is what has kept me at Groupon. On the worst or most stressful day, I leave thinking…wow, I learned so much today and I am humbled by all the amazing and smart people that I get to learn from each day.

Who or what inspires you?

Generally speaking, passionate people inspire me–whether it’s a passion for work, family, the arts, etc. If I am getting more specific, my mom and dad have been the most inspirational people in my life. Each of them has a beautiful story–from coming to the U.S with almost nothing to accomplishing so much and more than I could ever imagine both professionally and personally. Their energy, strength, and passion for life have always been contagious.

Speaking of your parents, what do they think you do?

I explain Groupon a lot to my mom and I still don’t think she knows! My nieces and nephews know I work in an office with a cat spaceship and to call Aunt Martha if they ever get in trouble. I think that last part is because my siblings don’t know how else to explain what a lawyer does or what someone in the Risk field does!

Were you referred to Groupon by anyone?

Yes, Silvija Martinjevic!

You recently celebrated your 5-year Groupon anniversary! Take us back to 2013: what was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

When I first walked in the door on that first day of work back in March 2013, I thought…what am I doing here?! I had always worked in a traditional office environment as a lawyer so the open platform, all the themed areas in Groupon, the cat spaceship…all of it was so different. However, the one thing that struck me above all of the differences was the energy–I could feel the energy of the office and how people enjoyed their jobs!

So after working in a more traditional environment, then coming to Groupon, what keeps you coming to work every day? What makes your work here unique?

The general Risk field is different at all companies. Groupon is unique because if you work hard and want to take on more and things that may not specifically fall into your field, you are encouraged to do it. I have had the opportunity to take on many different tasks/roles within my overall Risk role and more projects than I can count. I work daily with many different cross-functional teams. Why do I stay at Groupon? My extremely supportive manager and awesome team keep me at Groupon. Every day is different and challenging.

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

Part of my job is to get the best merchants on our platform and then to keep our customers coming back to the site to buy amazing deals on all our lines of business.

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

I am a spin class fanatic and I love to make my friends workout with me–ask anyone on my team…I’m always looking for workout buddies! I love to cook and have been trying to learn how to play guitar. I have a very big family and we are spread out from the midwest to the west coast so I spend a lot of free time trying to see them all!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

I can’t think of just 1 memory that is my favorite…but the most random thing is the day I walked into an elevator with the Abominable Snowman.

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

Honestly, my biggest accomplishment is being part of building a successful Global team. I have been lucky to work with a team that is so passionate, smart,  and hardworking on a daily basis. I am also proud of being asked to Chair Women@Groupon in early 2017. It has been a wild ride working to empower women (and men) in a time where women have such a strong voice in this world.

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

I practiced as a lawyer specializing in complex medical malpractice litigation (yes, I know totally makes sense that I came to Groupon!). A very close friend of mine was and is still working at Groupon–she introduced me to my former boss and after meeting at Motel Bar for lunch 5+ years ago, we left our meeting talking about an open role. The rest is history.

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

I love to cook and am obsessed with Top Chef…for one day I would love to know what it’s like to be a real chef in a restaurant somewhere in the West Loop of Chicago.

What’s your favorite local business?

Cycle X in the West Loop and La Colombe in the West Loop. Spinning and coffee…that’s pretty much how I make it through the day!

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I used to sing as a kid–from voice coaches to theater to even taking classes in college. I always knew I wanted to go to law school but I thought maybe I could do Broadway on the side! Only kidding, I always knew I wanted to pursue a law career but briefly had a musical passion. Now, all my friends who know I used to sing try to (unsuccessfully) get me to do karaoke!

]

Joanne Soo – Senior Technical Product Manager in San Francisco

Joanne Soo – Senior Technical Product Manager in San Francisco

JOANNE SOO

Senior Technical Product Manager, Groupon+
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 2011

At a young age, Joanne was told she wouldn’t be able to do any overly physical activities due to her disability. Fast forward to today, she’s not only climbing three-story walls but is also applying her fierce determination to a growing Product role at Groupon.

Tell us about what you do and what you love about it!

I work on the Groupon+ Product team, focusing on consumer growth. I love that I get to launch really cool features, learn what our customers love and what they don’t, and collaborate with the best and smartest people in the industry to shape the way people save money while dining out.

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

Back in 2015, while on the Conversion team, I’ve had the opportunity to drive the North America PayPal integration, which was a feature that was very high in demand from our consumers. This effort was particularly challenging because the integration happened during a time where Groupon was rolling out a set of new technologies (new API endpoints, new backend services, and a few ongoing frontend UX A/B experiments). The challenge was to launch this initiative on top of those rollouts without compromising on performance and user experience. There was a lot of careful planning needed and strong coordination between various teams proved to be very valuable. We were able to successfully launch the payment method and it was a big win for customers and for Groupon, which was really, really awesome!

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

I love the diversity and our continuous pursuit of a diverse workplace. One of our core values (Groupon’s) is “respect, integrity, and inclusion” and while this is important at any workplace, it is even more so in engineering departments, which are usually predominantly masculine. At Groupon’s Engineering organization, our proactive fostering of a diverse workplace has created a place where people feel comfortable challenging each other’s ideas, regardless of where you come from, your gender, sexuality, identity, etc. Also, cats. What’s not to love? 🙂

And what specifically do you enjoy about Product at Groupon?

I really enjoy being able to launch really cool features. As owners of our specific areas, we have a direct influence on the outcome of the product, and through that, we get to learn about consumer behavior, our merchants, and Groupon as a business. And because we operate in a lean, agile environment, we get to launch, learn, and iterate quickly and see our product evolve over a short span of time.

So what did you do before joining Groupon?

I worked for a startup in Malaysia that focused on youth empowerment. One fine day in 2010, we decided to pivot our business model and try something new. We built GroupsMore.com, a Groupon clone offering deal of the day to Malaysians. Within four months of launching, our company was acquired by Groupon. Since then, I’ve worn many hats at Groupon (customer service, editorial, project management, and now product) and have lived in various countries for the job: Malaysia, Taiwan, and now the US.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

In Groupon Malaysia, we had set up an RM9,000,000 unicorn ride deal ready for April Fool’s Day in 2012. We decided not to launch it at that time and we killed the deal before we launched it (but the deal URL was still live, and accessible if someone had access to it). Fast forward to February 2013— something mysterious and weird happened—we saw a huge spike in traffic on groupon.my and found that the (closed) unicorn ride deal had for some reason gone viral! We were worried about bad press at first, but the virality actually was a good one…people were amused. Here’s an article about it. Needless to say, sales skyrocketed that week. 🙂

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I climb walls! I was born with a disability and was told as a child growing up that I would not be able to do any big physical activities, but with my nature of breaking molds + wanting to prove people wrong + in the spirit of “I can do it even if you say I cannot!”, I’ve developed a passion for scaling three-story walls at climbing gyms.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I have synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon where one’s senses are intertwined. Some people taste words (lexical-gustatory synesthesia) or feel sounds (auditory-tactile synesthesia). I see numbers and letters in colors (grapheme-color synesthesia), which make memorizing/remembering spelling, names, strings of numbers relatively easy for me.

What do your parents think you do?

My mom thinks “I do all the creative planning for the internet and website things” and my dad thinks “something with people management skills or something.”

Sarah Thomson – Business Development Representative in Scottsdale

Sarah Thomson – Business Development Representative in Scottsdale

SARAH THOMSON

Business Development Representative
Phoenix, AZ
Joined: 2017

Hitting sales goals and gongs with Sarah in Phoenix.

What’s your proudest accomplishment at Groupon?

I recently worked with a merchant that Groupon had been trying to close for years. I went into the first call knowing it was going to be challenging, yet a good learning experience. I listened to his hesitations and within a few months he overcame all of his objections and I closed the opportunity.

The best part was that at the very end he thanked me for hearing him out and putting something together that he felt would work for him and his business. He told me I was a pleasure to work with and that I really changed his view of Groupon and how excited he was for his feature to go live. It was really nice to hear and it is something that I will take with me whenever I get those merchants who may be hesitant at first.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I ever got was from my dad and I believe it applies to everything, not just work: have a positive attitude! You can’t control a lot of what happens to you but you can control how you react to it. Just staying positive and working hard on the things I can control is really what makes me successful.

What was your impression of Groupon when you first started?

So much fun! I loved the energy and the environment of the Phoenix office, the people are really the best.

How does working at Groupon fit into your life?

I moved to Phoenix only knowing two people and my dog. Groupon quickly became a giant part of my life. I became good friends with a lot of my coworkers and love how many activities are always happening in and outside the office. (Shout out to the Culture Club!)

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

I love talking to merchants every day and learning how I can help their business grow and be successful. I am from Omaha, Nebraska, so I spend a lot of time working with businesses I grew up with. I love to help grow an expanding market by creating deals for the area and others.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I can lick my elbow!

Who are the most inspiring women at Groupon?

I think it is a tie between Grace Litteken and Kelly Light. They both work so hard every day and are so respected for their work. They are easy to talk to and really get things done. On top of that, they both are so caring and understanding.

What do you enjoy about Women@Groupon?

I worked for a long time at a company where I was the only girl. It was so nice to learn that Groupon celebrated and recognized women through Women@Groupon. When I was looking at job opportunities these programs were actually what stood out to me and ultimately made me end up here!

Who is a woman you look up to?

My grandma. She worked hard for many years for everything she had, working with addicts to help them get back on the right track. She never doubted their or anyone else’s success for a minute. She had a heart of gold and really knew how to tell it how it was. She was never afraid to be herself or speak her mind, which are qualities I try to emulate.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

When I hit 100% to goal and got to hit the gong!

What’s your favorite local business?

Big Red of the Desert. It’s the best little Husker store owned by the sweetest lady.

Geraldine Ah-Soune – Outside Account Executive in Montreal

Geraldine Ah-Soune – Outside Account Executive in Montreal

GERALDINE AH-SOUNE

Outside Account Executive
Montreal, Canada
Joined: 2015

Former chess champion Geraldine talks about her experience working in our Montreal location and shares what it takes to stay motivated in Sales.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

When the whole team went to Bubble Soccer. It was very funny to see my colleagues in a different light.

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

I’m in touch with the partners and tell them about Groupon. I find it very interesting because I have the opportunity to interact with people from all industries. What I like about what I do is that I am convinced that I truly help small and medium businesses with their business strategy. I believe in what I sell!

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

In my humble opinion, I think the biggest challenge is doing what you have to do on a daily basis. It is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You must take baby steps every day. Several small decisions put together makes it a productive day.

Who inspires you?

I admire many people but here is an unoriginal example: Nelson Mandela who prevented a civil war in his country by breaking the vicious circle of hatred and violence.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

The first impression I got was from the employees. During the hiring process and when I first started, what struck me was the team’s humility. Even though they work for a multinational, the people were very cool and helpful. There was no ego game like we may find in other companies. Everyone is helpful and ready to stop working just to help you.  

What’s your biggest accomplishment and/or what are you most proud of? Tell us your story!

Be creative in bringing deals.

What do your parents think you do?

My parents think I’m selling coupons.

What’d you do before Groupon?

Before Groupon, I was in door-to-door sales. I was my very first job after university. I  learned a lot about attitude and sales techniques.

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

I practice yoga and I recently bought a sewing machine to motivate me to learn how to sew. I am also a tea drinker.

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

I believe in Groupon and in the fact that we are really helping small and medium businesses. There is no initial investment. Our business model is very flexible.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I was a chess champion between the age of 8 and 10!