Putting diversity hiring into action in Seattle

Putting diversity hiring into action in Seattle

What’s one impactful way to connect diverse talent with tech companies? Put them in a room together and have deliberate conversations about diversity hiring.

The Tech Jobs Tour, formerly TechUP, is an organization that—in conjunction with like-minded organizations such as Lesbians Who Tech—focuses on promoting and supporting diverse and non-traditional engineers in order to diversify the tech scene. The tour recently had a stop in Seattle and Groupon was a sponsor of the event, which had over 500 guests in attendance. Throughout the evening at Impact Hub Seattle, engineers connected with companies who are prioritizing diversity hiring, such as Groupon. The schedule consisted of speed mentoring sessions, demos, a career fair, and a keynote address by the 3rd CTO of the United States of America, Megan Smith. In conjunction with sponsoring the event, Groupon had roughly 20 employees attend, volunteer, or mentor during the course of the evening.

 

How is Groupon helping to empower women in Tech? Two Engineers share their stories.

How is Groupon helping to empower women in Tech? Two Engineers share their stories.

Coding Across Silos: What One Intern Learned at Groupon

The fastest way for any coder to grow is through mentorship, getting a guided and hands-on tour of real-life problems and solution development. Through its relationship with the Ada Developers Academy, Groupon is supporting the next generation of women engineers by teaming interns with experienced developers in a space where classroom learning is mixed with hands-on development.

Today Melissa—a former ADA intern and current Groupon Software Development Engineer—and her mentor, Karena, talk about why it’s crucial for organizations to invest in initiatives that encourage women to pursue careers in STEM.

Karena // Senior Software Development Engineer in Test (above left)
Melissa // Colombia native & Journalist-turned-Software Development Engineer (above right)

How did being an ADA intern at Groupon impact you?

 [Melissa] Being an ADA intern at Groupon was highly impactful for me, as both of these institutions cared about my success. This, in turn, helped invigorate my desire to become a stronger software developer and strengthened my commitment to help other women starting out in the tech field. It is fantastic that Groupon is committed to making the Tech industry more diverse. It has very practical improvements to the overall developer community but also makes Groupon a more attractive company to software developers who care about such issues.

Why is the partnership important to Groupon?

 [Karena] Of course we all know about the big gender gap in the Tech world. When the Groupon Getaways leaders heard about the ADA program, they were intrigued because it was working to address this gender gap while still maintaining an extremely high bar for the candidates in the program. Groupon loves to get involved in initiatives that promote diversity, and finding such a reputable academy focused on educating women in Seattle was amazing! We’re excited about our partnership with ADA so we can help connect women with careers in Tech while bringing new, diverse perspectives to our Engineering teams here at Groupon.  

[Melissa] In my opinion, ADA connects Groupon with a highly-qualified network of developers. ADA developers have had successful careers in other industries, have committed to becoming software developers, and are highly vetted. Groupon benefits not only by adding talent to their Engineering teams but in broadening the larger skill sets and world views of its engineering community.

Why is the partnership important to you professionally? Personally?

[Melissa] I have become an advocate for women in Tech and a role model for the success that can come despite the risks of changing career paths. I am now in a position to speak with other women about what the industry is like for women. More specifically to Groupon, I can dispel many of the myths about being a woman developer at a large company and promote Groupon as the pinnacle in the field of career choices.

[Karena] As we continue to see problems with the lack of diversity in the tech field, ADA is an extremely valuable partner for Groupon. It not only promotes and advocates for women in tech, but it also brings in women from diverse backgrounds with a variety of non-technical skills that are often lacking in the one-dimensional tech world.

What did you learn as a student or mentor?

[Melissa] As a student, I obviously gained a lot of technical knowledge. However, I was also trained on many of the other skills that are necessary to become a successful team-based software developer: project planning, communicating ideas, working cross-functionally, testing and debugging, and of course proper Git usage. Before Groupon, I mistakenly assumed coding was about coding all day in front of my computer. On a more personal level, I was born in Colombia and have been living in the U.S. since 2014; this background provides interesting learning opportunities for me such as noticing cultural differences, subtle nuance in language, and even office etiquette. One benefit of working at Groupon is that the team is already globally diverse, meaning that a number of my teammates have already gone through similar cultural assimilation and are happy to help me in my process.

[Karena] One of the things I love about mentoring is that I always learn at least as much as the person I am mentoring! Something I have definitely seen firsthand from Melissa is how to view learning and growing in a positive way. She is always excited to hear other people’s opinions about her code and is so open to feedback. Programmers sometimes take it personally when their code is criticized, but Melissa has been a great reminder of how to always view feedback in a positive and constructive way!

What about interning at Groupon impacted your decision to join us as a full-time employee?

[Melissa]  Having a very smart and supportive mentor was one of the primary reasons. To have that connection, admiration, and role model who was invested in guiding my career path as a software developer became an asset that Groupon had which other companies could not compete with. Another big incentive to returning to Groupon was that I would be able to rejoin the same team I had interned with. The Discovery and Demand (Getaways) team is filled with smart and committed developers, and it is exciting to work alongside them. Finally, I found the Groupon culture to be a great fit for me; they are serious about software, but also value work-life balance and team building. All of these reasons made my decision rather easy.

What differentiates Groupon Engineering from other Tech companies?

[Karena] One major difference in Engineering at Groupon is the openness of the culture. I love the way we open source a lot of our projects so other engineers can benefit from our efforts. Internally, I love how collaborative the engineering teams are and the way we are developing good processes for working in each other’s repositories. Many Tech companies are more siloed and it’s difficult to contribute to code repositories that your team doesn’t own.

Want to learn more about women in Tech at Groupon? Check out or aptly-named category to get more insight.

How Women@Groupon is Commemorating Women’s History Month

How Women@Groupon is Commemorating Women’s History Month

Written by: Nicole Meyerson, Marketing Program Manager and Women@Groupon Community & Volunteering Co-Chair

Women's history grouponYou may recall some ideas we suggested for companies to celebrate International Women’s Week last year. Since our past celebrations of the important day have been so well-attended, and in light of the current political climate, we’ve expanded our programming to all of March around Women’s History Month.

Companies large and small can draw inspiration from our initiatives below. The first step is acknowledging that women in the workplace have different challenges than men, and that truly anyone can be an ally.

“We’re excited to build on the successes of last year and celebrate the amazing accomplishments of women with engaging programming throughout March,” said Anjana Dalal.  Deb Schwartz added, “Acknowledging all those who have blazed the trail for us makes me realize how much more impact we all can have.”

March 6: Women@Groupon presents our “View From the Top” speaker series featuring former Navy Seal and business expert Pete Naschak. He’ll discuss leadership skills for women in the workplace.

March 15: Groupon’s Talent Development team established a partnership with Second City Works to put on a series of Inclusion 101 Workshops; the first starts in March. In their words, “We believe that the same skills that make successful improvisers can also support an inclusive culture. By offering experiences, unpacking ideas, and providing real-world tools, our programs give participants ways to practice inclusion.” Explore their course offerings.

March 16: In partnership with Blacks in Groupon (aka BiG) and IMPACT Chicago, we’re hosting a “Speak Up, Speak Out” self-defense workshop. Skills including reading body language and assessing verbal communication, projecting confident body language, and speaking confidently and powerfully can prove vital in a variety of situations.

March 17: Fireside Chat with Groupon’s new Vice President of Investor Relations, and Women@Groupon’s executive sponsor Deb Schwartz.

All month long, and March 11: Collecting gently-used professional clothing and accessories for Dress For Success throughout the month, and volunteering onsite at their Chicago donation center. (Anyone can contribute to their Amazon wish list!)

March 22: Networking organization ARA launched in Chicago in 2013, and has since established chapters in other cities across the country. Women@Groupon is co-sponsoring their event A Journey in Progress: Diversity & Inclusion at the Chicago Trading Company. This event is open to all attendees who register in advance.

Curious about what diversity and inclusion mean to Groupon at a corporate level? Read Karishma Patel Buford’s take, Global Head of Talent Development & Diversity, on ARA’s blog.

People of all genders can celebrate this important month with coworkers and loved ones. Follow the conversation on social media at #WomensHistoryMonth. Men, your efforts are needed and appreciated, too! Watch this speech to learn more about where to start.

Groupon employees: Visit Women@Groupon’s Skynet page to view more details about the above events, and to RSVP.

Shane on Team Culture & Ownership Advocacy

Shane on Team Culture & Ownership Advocacy

Today we’ll get to know Shane Stanford, a Senior Engineering Manager who leads three Tech teams in Chicago and Berlin.

Name: Shane Stanford
Title: Senior Engineering Manager
Start date: 4/11/2011

What do you do?

I lead an Engineering organization that consists of 3 unique teams: Finance Engineering, Voucher Inventory Engineering, and Financial Data Engineering. I spend a majority of my time coaching team managers and senior engineers and guiding those teams through strategic planning and delivery processes.

Finance Engineering – When I started at Groupon, the Finance Engineering team did not exist. Across the world, Groupon paid its merchants using spreadsheets. There was no common way to do this and there were few systems to help. I was one of the founding members of the Finance Engineering team that took on the mission of automating merchant payments globally. Today, this team ensures Groupon merchants all over the world get paid accurately and on time with a payment platform that sends hundreds of thousands of payments to our merchants every month.

Voucher Inventory Engineering – This team develops the platform that keeps track of the deal options you could buy on Groupon and the vouchers that you actually purchase. So, when you pick an option under the buy button or go to look at “My Groupons,” that’s the stuff this team cares about. Our platform tracks hundreds of thousands of inventory products and millions of purchased units.

Financial Data Engineering – The Financial Data Engineering team is located in Berlin. Hallo! They work on ETL processes and reporting for our international accounting team. They make sure our business has accurate and timely numbers to report and understand.

What’s challenging about the work your teams do? 

In a single word: scale.

  • 10,000,000+ requests to our services
  • 300,000 requests to inventory service a minute at peak
  • 100,000+ merchant payments
  • 100,000+ inventory products for consumers to purchase
  • 50 services talking to our services from all kinds of different teams at Groupon
  • 30+ countries relying on our reporting and accuracy

…no big deal.

What do you love about what you do? 

I really enjoy working with people and helping them reach their goals, both with engineering skills and career planning and advancement. I also like simply being in front of a whiteboard with a bunch of people and solving a problem as a team.

You’re a big advocate of culture; can you describe what your team’s culture like?

One of the most important factors in developing a strong team culture is ownership. We do a lot to try to own our culture and talk about our values. For example, we hold quarterly and weekly culture retrospectives where we discuss what’s working and what isn’t. We also conduct a retrospective anytime someone joins the team, as we believe our culture evolves with every new team member.

Something I’m also super passionate about is inclusion and diversity. Over time, we’ve developed some best practices that have helped us better celebrate diversity, such as:

  • Individualizing and tailoring our onboarding process to reflect that every new team member is unique
  • Discussing team culture with new team members so they understand its value
  • Recognizing colleagues’ emotions as important signals and finding ways to address any issues that arise
  • Calling out problematic words and actions and discussing appropriate team behavior and language

How much direct impact can your teammates have on the business?

All three teams have significant and broad impact on the business, from internal operations to merchants and consumers. Most consumer purchases and merchant payments are handled by our services as they pass through Groupon.

Is there a lot of ownership?

Yes, and not only with culture. I believe engineering ownership is the key to innovation.

Favorite Groupon memory?

When the Finance Engineering team rolled out our merchant payment platform internationally, we bought a giant 20’ banner that read “Mission Accomplished!” and hung it haphazardly above our work area. It was a reference to a certain presidential speech… well, you can probably figure it out. Of course there was still tons of work to do but it was great to celebrate the accomplishment. We now use the phrase, “When can we raise the banner?” when we want to talk about what success looks like at the end of a project.