Why Leave Groupon Engineering for a [Much, Much] Bigger Tech Company, Then Return? Director of Engineering Manish Chhabra Tells All.

Why Leave Groupon Engineering for a [Much, Much] Bigger Tech Company, Then Return? Director of Engineering Manish Chhabra Tells All.

Why leave Groupon for a much [much] larger Tech organization, then return? Director of Engineering Manish shares his boomerang story.

I am one of the recent boomerang employees of Groupon. Like some others who have left and come back, I also decided to return for the challenging opportunities and the engineering culture. In my first role here, I was leading our Goods Engineering team which is responsible for driving the engineering and product enhancements to build the online marketplace where our customers discover and save on amazing products. After more than three years with the organization, I decided to pursue an opportunity at one of the biggest and highly-coveted tech companies, but after a short stint I decided to come back to Groupon.

There are many reasons why someone might seek out a new role; sometimes they find an opportunity that appears to be better for their career growth and other times it’s merely the itch to try something different. I’m constantly pursuing new challenges to solve as the joy and satisfaction of positively impacting the lives of people is immense. At Groupon, we keep our engineering teams at an optimal size and empower our engineers to make a huge impact on the design and outcome of each product.

As an organization, Groupon is continuously growing and evolving in the local commerce domain. With this continuous growth, we are solving a lot of engineering challenges in a fast-paced environment. Some of these challenges include moving away from a monolith stack to Service-oriented architecture or the challenge we encountered while building a real-time analytics engine for our A/B Testing framework, along with many others. 

We have a lot of talented, energizing, and smart employees who come from diverse backgrounds. The culture encourages innovation in order to keep us up to date with the latest technology trends. GEEKon, our global internal hackathon which encourages engineers to create useful solutions for the company in a cross-collaborative environment, is one example.

Josh: Philosopher and Chicken McNugget Expert

Josh: Philosopher and Chicken McNugget Expert

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2016! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and working with our teams.

Who are you?

My name is Josh and I’ll be a junior at Northwestern University studying Computer Science. I’m from Cincinnati, OH. I can identify all four distinct Chicken McNugget shapes by taste alone.

What do you do?

At Groupon, I’m on the Goods CX (Customer Experience) team, which basically owns the Goods part of the Groupon website where you can find deals on products. Because that’s a wide net, however, I’ve also gotten to work on code from other teams as well that are used by the Goods team. My main focus for this summer will be working on a dedicated tips page for local deals, which allows users to see reviews, ratings, and advice given by previous customers on a given deal. Since I’m on a web team, I’m writing in the standard languages, but with slight twists (mustache instead of pure HTML, Stylus instead of CSS, Coffeescript instead of Javascript). This is my first time writing a lot of code in Coffeescript, which is really neat and not at all like real coffee.

What’s an internship at Groupon like?

If you’re like me and this is your first time working on code that gets used in a fairly large company, you are going to get absolutely dunked on in your first week by a field you once thought you were on friendly terms with. Jumping into an established codebase and trying to figure out how everything works is a task in itself. Combine that with making changes, debugging, writing tests, and figuring out why code doesn’t work on your machine when it works for everyone else, only to realize it’s because your config files are pointing to staging, when they should be pointing to production. Luckily for me though, everyone on my team has been super helpful and is always willing to put up with my questions (especially my mentor, whom I asked a question probably every ninety minutes during my first week here). Everyone here really understands that you’re here primarily to learn, so they’re very accommodating while you get your sea legs under you, and that’s a huge help.

What’s a typical day at Groupon like?

Josh (right) with Groupon interns and mentors @ the Cucina Bambini cooking class!

I get in around a quarter ‘til nine and have a bowl of Special K Red Berries® cereal with soy milk. I refer to it as Special K Red Berries® because that’s what it’s labelled as on the dispenser, but to be completely honest I have no idea if it’s actually Special K Red Berries® cereal because I’ve never seen any Red Berries® in it, or berries of any variety for that matter. I don’t know what happens to the berries on their journey to its container, but the result is me eating the equivalent of unfrosted Frosted Flakes out of a paper bowl, which isn’t as unappetizing as it probably sounds. Other than that, the constants of my time here have been daily stands, which is how Groupon ensures that you’re not slacking off, and intern outings, which is how Groupon ensures that you’re slacking off sufficiently. I would also say that around 30% of my day is split between asking my mentor to help me, asking someone who isn’t my mentor to help me, and thanking whomever I just asked for help. Besides that, I spend my day taking care of issues that come up every now and then, writing tests followed by receiving and implementing feedback on my code.

Any advice for prospective interns?

Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know how to do something, especially if it’s Groupon-specific. Seriously. No one is going to think less of you for not knowing how to rebase and squash 15 commits your first week, even if you’ve told them that you’ve used Git before. There are a lot of things that you just don’t get exposure to until you start working. Just go at your own pace and ask a lot of questions…which is pretty much how I’d recommend going through life in general.

Meet Some of the Women Behind Groupon’s International Women’s Week

Meet Some of the Women Behind Groupon’s International Women’s Week

Women @ Groupon sponsored a five-day femme-stravaganza for International Women’s Week and every day saw great turnout and participation.

Here’s a quick breakdown of last week’s events:

Monday: A Lunch & Learn with an all-female panel of senior executives from across the organization covered topics such as raises, performance reviews, self-promotion, and how to navigate the often murky waters of career growth.

Tuesday: A screening of Half the Sky brought roughly 50 employees together to view how the Half the Sky movement continually helps women from across the globe who strive to change their often difficult circumstances.

Wednesday: Both a bake sale and a bra drive generated impressive donations for our partnership with Dress for Success.

Thursday: Women @ Groupon’s new executive sponsor, Sri Viswanath, spoke at a Town Hall meeting which focused on what to expect in 2015.

Friday: Ann Ziegler, SVP/CFO of CDW and Groupon’s only female board member, spoke to an audience of over 100 people (with many remote participants as well) about her professional journey.

Let’s meet the women who helped to make IWW happen.

1. Carolyn Dorant, Site Editor and Women @ Groupon Communications Co-Chair

As Communications Co-Chair, Carolyn’s main responsibility for IWW centered around ensuring that our North American employees were informed of all the events of the week. She also interviewed many of the IWW participants and speakers for Groupon’s intranet and kept the forum updated with information about when and where events were taking place.

“My favorite event of the week was the Lunch & Learn on Monday in which leaders from different departments talked about raises, promotions, and self-promotion.”

2. Rachel Matuch, Content & Community Manager, Groupon Coupons and Women@ Groupon Special Events Co-Chair

Rachel helped to coordinate the entire week of events as Special Events Co-Chair alongside Allison DiDominick. Having Ann Ziegler in to speak was one of her favorites parts of IWW, and she felt that Ann had great advice on asking to be considered for new roles and challenges, “Take that step. The worst thing that can happen is that somebody says no.”

Rachel says, “Our GrouponWorks merchant blog profiled female small business owners in honor of the week. Check out their interviews with Wild Heart Beauty Salon owner Misty Briglia and Dragonfly Cakes owner Brooks Nyugen for some great inspiration from women who are out there making things happen.”

3. Allison DiDominick, Technical Recruiter in Chicago and Women @ Groupon Special Events Co-Chair

As one of the co-chairs for the events committee, Allison coordinated and planned how to execute the multiple events throughout the week. The project management this type of event entailed proved to be a great learning experience for her.

Allison’s favorite part of the week? “Having our Executive Sponsor, Sri Viswanath, join our Town Hall meeting to speak about his passion for supporting Women @ Groupon as well as learning about navigating internal office politics from our internal female panel.”

4. Val Agnew, Recruiting Project Manager and Women @ Groupon Co-Chair

As Co-Chair for Women @ Groupon, Val oversaw much of the general event planning, but was most excited to hone skills she doesn’t use everyday as a Project Manager in Recruiting. Val MC’d the Town Hall on Tuesday (in conjunction with Lori Kaplan, Co-Chair in Palo Alto) and interviewed Ann Ziegler on Friday.

“My favorite part of the week was seeing it all come together. We had an event everyday, we had great attendance, and all of it culminating with the event with Ann was a great way to cap off the week.”

Thanks for reading the Groupon People Blog–A blog about People at Groupon. You can see all of our current open jobs here, and please let us know what you think in the comments below.

Faizal in Tax

Faizal in Tax

Today we get to know Faizal, the Global Leader of Direct Tax and Transfer Pricing. Faizal joined Groupon in June of 2014 and felt palpable excitement in the office from day one. A self-described “fixer,” he explains how Groupon gives him the opportunity to dive into multiple challenges within the organization.

What did you do before coming to Groupon?

I led Wal-Mart’s global e-commerce tax group and covered state, local, international, transfer pricing, local, country tax, etc.

Why did you decide to come to Groupon?

It was the opportunity to join a very innovative organization. I would say at heart I’m a builder and a fixer. When I came to visit the office, the energy I felt when I walked into the building and walked the floor was (and is) a palpable, positive energy. People here want to win—they’re not just here to collect a paycheck. The vast majority of people here are in it to succeed and win. When you have a group of people that are striving toward that same goal, it’s infectious and exciting.

What has surprised you most about working here?

The breadth of issues. Some people may view that as a negative, but I view it more as an opportunity. Coming to work here, you’re going to see a lot more issues that cover a broader range of topics than at most other companies and you’ll have more opportunities to dive into these things and drive value.

What has been the biggest challenge?

I would say resource constraints. Resource constraint is the great equalizer where ruthless prioritization and multitasking are the keys to success. This helps issues get the time they need for resolution with the right mix of internal resources and advisors.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into Tax at Groupon? 

Have an open mind! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes people feel daunted with the volume of work and issues, and because they don’t want to give the wrong answer, but you need to ask questions to understand what’s going on. Unless you’ve already worked at a startup, the speed with which we move and operate is beyond what most people have seen. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask lots of questions.

For people that want autonomy and the ability to drive value early on, Groupon is the right place for you.

Funniest thing that’s happened at the office?

There was an associate who sits on a Salesforce ball (Groupon-speak for “exercise ball”) at her desk. Well, one day there was a point at which she got really relaxed and started to slide off the ball. It actually took her a full minute to fall off because she couldn’t find her balance. Finally, she fell to the floor and everyone in Finance stood and gave her a standing ovation.

If you’re interested in working on the Tax team, or just want motivation to do your taxes, click here to view our open positions.