Leandro Ariel De Oto – Engineering Manager, Consumer Web

Leandro Ariel De Oto – Engineering Manager, Consumer Web

LEANDRO ARIEL DE OTO

Engineering Manager at Consumer Web
Palo Alto, CA
Joined: 2012

Rainbow Flag on Apple iOS 11.3

When he’s not leading an Engineering team that builds solutions for a frictionless customer experience, you can find Leandro practicing his dance moves in the gym…channeling his love for the Backstreet Boys.

Why did you join Pride? What do you get out of it? Any notable highlights or memories?

I am very passionate about diversity and inclusion in the workplace and I felt this could be a great opportunity for me to contribute to the community. I led Pride Latino at Groupon LatAm a few years ago and I wanted to bring my experience to the US by actively working with the group and learning new things from them. Pride@Groupon gives me so much energy every day because they remind me how much we can achieve if we all work together by leveraging the values and principles we all share. It’s fantastic to have an email or a chat from them every morning where each member gets to be who they want to be.

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

Innovation is key for any company to survive in their field. A company that supports not only the LGBT community but diversity, in general, will be more likely to succeed. Exploring new segments of the population that may have a different vision of the world, of the business, and our customers will bring the company a new spectrum of opportunities never discovered before.

Have you ever worked for a company that accepts, champions, and supports the LGBTQ+ community before? 

Groupon is definitely the first company that takes concrete action on the matter. I worked for other companies that were ok with it but I never had the chance to speak up my mind in relation to diversity and non-discrimination the way that I do here. Not that these other companies didn’t support it, they just didn’t talk about it. At Groupon, we have a dedicated space for this and full support to bring these type of topics to the table.

What makes Pride@Groupon unique?

Authenticity, passion, and respect. Pride@Groupon truly believes in changing the world. We truly understand the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community faces every day and that many people just don’t notice. Every person in the group has a unique strength that we leverage to make an impact. We respect each other and everybody gets to be themselves 100%.

How are you celebrating Pride Month this year?

Personally, I am still deciding whether I want to celebrate in San Francisco, Chicago, or Seattle. All their Pride parades are so fantastic that I haven’t decided yet which one I want to go. Such a hard decision! Professionally we are working on multiple initiatives within Groupon to make June a very colorful month.     🙂

Who are some notable figures you’d like to recognize for Pride Month?

I have to say, Freddie Mercury. I wish he could have lived his short life more openly and freely as we all deserve. I love his music (as we all do) and I wish I could sing like him 🙂 #GodSaveTheQueen.

What was your first role at Groupon?

My first role at Groupon was as a front-end developer back in Chile. I was hired to be a front-end developer for the LatAm countries and after a year or so I joined a global team to maintain the front-end for Checkout and My Account web apps worldwide. After a few years in that position, I was promoted to Engineering Manager of the same team. In 2016 I moved to Palo Alto. I have been managing the Checkout and User Sessions web teams for about 3 years.

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

My teams and I are responsible for optimizing the login and checkout experiences for the web platform. We have to build solutions that provide our customers with a frictionless and usable interface customized to their needs so that they can proceed to log in and purchase their favorite deals with confidence and no confusion when using a web browser. I love being a manager because it gives me the opportunity to work on building teams who build great products for millions of users. What I love about my teams is that we all share the same passion for front-end development aimed to solve common problems in the e-commerce industry. Having an impact on so many people is sincerely rewarding. We truly want to build a daily habit for our customers and make local businesses accessible to them.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

2012 Groupon holiday party contest: Made a Gangnam Style-like video and we won 1st place.

What’s been most surprising about working at Groupon?

How flexible a big company can be to promote career opportunities among its people. I learned this from my own experience too. I’ve spent half of my professional career at Groupon 🙂

Are you involved with any Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)? 

I am an active member of Pride@Groupon. I led Pride Latino back in Chile before moving to the US. It’s great to see so many colleagues and leaders fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion among our people. That definitely makes us stronger. I have also recently joined Groupon en Español.

What’s your favorite programming language?

Javascript and its allies.

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

If your checkout and login experiences are full of blockers and rocks in the user’s road, there is no e-commerce platform that can survive. We work every day to implement new solutions that would streamline this process based on rigorous analyses and customer feedback. All of these using modern technologies to improve the overall website’s performance so our customers can get their favorite deals with just a few clicks.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I like taking hip-hop classes and using the gym’s studio to practice some moves.

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

In 2013, we had to redesign the whole web platform to improve the usability and user interface for our new online marketplace. It was the first redesign since Groupon’s launch in 2008. We had to learn new technologies, work with a lot of new people, all this in a language that I wasn’t too familiar with (no, not Javascript but English!). I learned so much during those days and we worked really hard to deliver a project that millions of users would face. The results were successful and very well taken by our customers and merchants.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

“Will I be able to make an impact in such a big company?”

What do your parents think you do?

According to my mom: “You program the operation of the website using codes” and I can also “remove viruses from her computer.”

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

Authentic diversity. Groupon Engineering culture is very diverse and that’s what makes us different because we truly believe that our multiple nationalities, cultures, genders, styles, and accents make Groupon a better place to work at where we all can learn from each other.

What did you do before Groupon? How did you get here?

I worked for some media companies as a front-end developer in Buenos Aires, Argentina. One day I got an email from a Groupon recruiter to interview me for an open position in Chile. I had my interviews but my profile didn’t fit the back-end positions available at that time. Three months later, they contacted me again with an offer for a front-end position. I accepted and I moved to Santiago de Chile three weeks later.

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

When we deliver our features to Production is when I feel most proud about my team’s work and impact in the customers. We call our new features “our little babies.”

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs

What’s something about you that’d surprise us?

I am a big fan of Backstreet Boys.

Christina Tolman – Business Development Representative

Christina Tolman – Business Development Representative

CHRISTINA TOLMAN

Business Development Representative
Phoenix, AZ
Joined: 2017

Switching careers can be daunting, especially when you’re trying Sales for the first time. But Christina, a Phoenix Business Development Rep in Phoenix, handled her career 180 with ease thanks to an energetic outlook and Groupon’s robust Sales training program.

How does the Phoenix office have fun during the work day?

Catch Phrase! On Wednesdays we have Breakfast Club (where two people bring breakfast to share) and then we play Catch Phrase. It’s friendly but also very competitive and a great way to prepare people for the phones!

What do you love about your job?

What I love most is getting to build lasting partnerships between Groupon and businesses. Checking in on businesses that I’ve worked with and hearing about their success brings me a lot of joy. I love that each day is different and that it is challenging. There is a new puzzle to be solved for every business and it keeps me on my toes!

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

The most challenging thing to me is refining on my own approach at work. In my last career, almost every interaction that I had was in person. It was tricky at first to build relationships over the phone and to be able to connect with someone when I couldn’t see their face but now I actually enjoy this more because I can communicate with so many more people each day!

What inspires you?

What inspires me is the ability to learn and grow each day. It’s pretty amazing that I can be a better person each day, learn something new, and try to bring more joy and good to the world. Simply said by Don Draper, “Make it simple, but significant.”

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

I walked in the door for my interview and knew I wanted to work at Groupon. The environment was positive, fun, and welcoming. In fact, during my interview I said, “If you offered my the job right now, I would say yes!” I was offered the position two days later.

“I love that each day is different and that it is challenging. There is a new puzzle to be solved for every business and it keeps me on my toes!”

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

One of the things that I do is ask my friends about new businesses or businesses that they would want to see on Groupon throughout the country. I focus primarily on new breweries or smaller breweries because one of the things that I hear from many that I work with is how they want to bring the community together. It is pretty amazing for me to partner with a brewery before they even open their doors and hear about how they started, to watch all the equipment be installed, and ultimately to see them open their doors for the first time.

What’s your proudest accomplishment in your time here so far?

Working with a shooting range this year. It was a newer range that really wanted to be on Groupon for the exposure. It took a lot of work on the back end to get them on the site but ultimately we got them on just in the nick of time before Thanksgiving. I was in Austin when I received a text that said, “Congratulations – you have one of the top deals of the week!” That was my first time being recognized as one of the top deals. After that, I received Rep of the Week. It was great to see that after all of work of the merchant and my team, that they were able to get on the site and gain the exposure they were looking for!

Have you won any awards?

Culture Club: Unity Award

What do your parents think you do?

“Lets see; I think you work with companies large and small to help them sell themselves better by providing deals that encourage others to use their product and because of that use they want to continue using the product even without the discount coupon. How does that sound?” Written by mom and approved by dad.

Where were you before joining Groupon and how did you get here?

I worked with early childhood programs throughout the country. I was a trainer and coach for childcare centers and helped them improve their quality of care. I’ve always wanted to try sales but was scared. In February 2017, I started thinking that I was going to make the transition and by March I decided to put my two weeks at my job without another job lined up! Amazingly enough, I ended up having an interview at Groupon the next week and was offered a position. I guess it was meant to be!

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I’ve recently taken up hiking: Arizona has some amazing views! Mud runs and races are also something I like to do. The Hot Chocolate 15K and Terrain Mud Run are my favorites.

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

I would want to own a brewery or a coffee shop. It would be great to get to know the people in the community I work in by providing a great environment! (Maybe one day I’ll start a business and I’ll have to call Groupon to help me build the brand!)

What’s your favorite local business?

La Santisima. They have the best horchata I’ve ever had: horchata with strawberry creme, pecans, cantaloupe, strawberries, and cinnamon! They also have a salsa bar where you can choose about 15-20 different types of salsa. Chips and salsa is my favorite food so it is a huge win for me!

Sales roles exist at other companies…so why Groupon? What gets you excited to come here every day?

My brother in law is in sales and has been for 20+ years. He said to find a company that has a training program that will invest in you. Coming from a non-sales background, I saw Groupon as a company that would invest in me to make me the better every day. If a company invests in me, it makes me want to in turn invest in them even more! The people I work with also make my life great each day! (Grace Litteken, my manager makes a tough job easier and I couldn’t do it without her!)

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Ping Pong Tournaments –

We take them seriously –

Better start training!

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I’m in sales, but money does not motivate me! Also…I have 7 older sisters. I’m the youngest of 8 girls!

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

Pride Panel & Office Tour: Lindblom Math & Science Academy’s Gay-Straight Alliance

Students and teachers of Lindblom Math & Science Academy’s Gay-Straight Alliance will be joining members of Pride@Groupon for an office tour, lunch, and an engaging panel discussion.

Lindblom’s Gay-Straight Alliance–formed to fill a gap that existed in Chicago’s South Side–has been actively engaging students, teachers, and administrators at their school to spread awareness and encourage meaningful conversations around ways to become allies and advocates.

Groupon is thrilled to have Lindblom at our World Headquarters, and proud of the work they have done!

Natalie Vas – Business Development Representative

Natalie Vas – Business Development Representative

NATALIE “CaptaiNat” VAS

Business Development Representative – Things To Do
Phoenix, AZ
Joined: 2015

As aspiring guitarist CaptaiNat approaches her 3-year anniversary, she takes us on her Groupon voyage from the early days of our Phoenix office to now.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favorite memory is probably our grand opening party for the new Phoenix office. We had a photo booth where everyone had a blast dressing up for pictures, and a surprising amount of people in our office have killer karaoke skills. (Just not me!)

Who inspires you?

My DSM Grace inspires me! Anytime I’m frustrated or upset, she reminds me to stay positive, keep my head up, and believe in myself no matter what.

What’s your biggest accomplishment here?

The thing I’m most proud of about my time here at Groupon is how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown since first joining. I came from a customer service job (which I didn’t particularly enjoy), and when I first started at Groupon I didn’t necessarily have concrete sales experience. I was around before Groupon’s Sales training program was built out, so we only spent one week training before I made my first call. The training at that time was “trial by fire,” but it worked out for the best because that’s how I learned to be more confident on the phone! I was the prime example of “fail forward.” Our manager always encouraged us to “just do it” anytime we were afraid to call a merchant.

It can be really hard when people tell you “no” all day, but all of those “no’s” have helped me learn how to be more confident both on the phone and in real life, too! Fast forward to today: I’m coming up on my third-year anniversary, and I’m so proud I’ve been around to see this office grow from using iPhones to where we’re at today.

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

I love being on the TTD (Things To Do)  team because we are getting people to check Groupon first for really awesome and unique things like brewery tastings and festivals…..or even pole-dancing classes!

 

What was your first impression of Groupon?

I was in the third hiring class in Phoenix, so when I first started, we were all in this tiny room making calls on iPhones. My first impression was, “oh man, what did I get myself into!” But, I was blown away by how great everyone was, and how committed we were to building out the Phoenix office into what it is today!

What differentiates Groupon from other companies with Sales teams?

A bunch of my friends work at other companies doing very similar jobs, but at the end of the day, they don’t have the office culture we do! What makes Groupon so special is a little bit of everything. It’s not just the people, but all the crazy contests and spirit days we’re always doing! Cold calling businesses and sales, in general, is not always the easiest job, but playing Catchphrase, having our weekly Wednesday Breakfast Club, team outings, and all of my coworkers keep me sane during the harder days. Plus, our Halloween costume contest was pretty amazing.

What do your parents think you do?

A direct quote from mom: “you sell stuff to people, like on that show ‘The Office’ right?” – close mom, close.

Are you involved in any of Groupon’s ERGs?

Yes! I’m a member of PRIDE@Groupon.

Why do you participate in PRIDE@Groupon?

I joined PRIDE@Groupon because it’s a cause that’s close to my heart. I want to be a part of anything we can do to create more awareness and support!

Tell us something about you that might surprise us. 

My personal goal for Q4 is to learn how to play one song on the guitar. I’m already halfway there!

Give us a glimpse of your workspace:

Natalie’s desk aka “organized chaos”

 

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

I would be a unicorn trainer, because who wouldn’t want to hang out with unicorns all day?

Pride@Groupon

Groupon World Headquarters