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.

 

Krassimir, Software Development Engineer

Krassimir, Software Development Engineer

What’s it like to work as an Engineer at Groupon in Seattle? Krassimir Dimov, a Software Development Engineer, gives us the scoop. (And some nice new office pics!)

What brought you to Groupon from your previous company? 

I moved to Groupon from Amazon Web Services. It was a magnificently executed recruiting effort that started with a cold call. I had several meetings with the team leadership; we talked about vision, execution plan, team needs, and my fit. I was looking for leadership that inspires, impacts, and provides ample learning opportunities. These are the two questions I always ask when approached with new opportunities:

  • What about my background stood out to you?
  • What will I learn in the next year?

What do you do here?

I am a Software Engineer on the Relevance team. As I like to describe it, we are the team that chooses the deals you see and the order in which you see them. This includes the content of web, mobile, touch, email, and notifications. The work is very interesting; it involves data mining, machine learning, real-time streaming and analysis, and a massive number of requests. We have teams of specialists in different areas: Applied Research, Data Science, and Infrastructure. We all work very closely together.

I am lucky to be in a position to contribute to our service at an architectural level while still spending a good part of my time deep in code. Some of my projects in the past year include traffic shaping on the load balancer, profiling and performance optimization of several systems, a new plugin for our indexing system, traffic analysis, design and implementation of a new request fallback system, and redesign and rewrite of a release and continuous integration.

I maintain close working relationship with other Groupon teams; most are either our internal clients or vendors of our data. We work on requirements, designs, implementations, general ideas, and keeping up to date with technology.

What sort of impact do your teams have on the business? 

One great thing about my team’s work is that our impact is measurable. We are constantly running experiments and quantifying their impact on business. We have dashboards with trends, debriefs on the progress of every experiment, and the ability to promptly fine tune them. So, speaking fiscally, we can express the impact of each experiment with the precise lift or drop of Groupon revenue.

There is also the engineering impact. We own one of the busiest services in Groupon: virtually all real-time customer traffic results in calls to Relevance, plus email and mobile notifications. We have engineers experienced in designing, developing, and delivering highly available, scalable, and reliable services using the newest frameworks, libraries, and tools.

Just to give you an idea of the level of talent I get to work with every day, two members of the Relevance team’s papers were accepted as full-length papers at IEEE Big Data 2015 (plus oneposter), and we had a presentation at Elastic{ON} 2015 with a deep dive into the custom scripting we do in Elasticsearch scoring and ranking.

What’s important for an engineering candidate to know about Tech at Groupon?

We are still a young and fast-paced company. Engineers here have a keen sense of ownership; even at junior levels we expect of them to own a task, carry it to completion, and maintain it. Out of all the companies on my resume, Groupon has the fastest time to market.

We have well-established and solid engineering practices. We can teach you how to develop a well performing, scalable, production-ready software and how to test, release, and monitor it.

At Groupon you will be exposed to a wide variety of open-source software. An important part of fast delivery is knowing what’s available, evaluating and choosing the best tool for the job, and recognizing what we can contribute back to the open source community.

Groupon is a company where distributed development works. My team sits in Palo Alto, Seattle, Chicago, Santiago, Berlin, and Austin. We work on the same code base, do code reviews across offices, and regularly jump into a video conference for a quick “in-person” meeting.

Anything else you want to add?

We recently moved into our brand new Seattle office, which is in the second tallest building in Seattle with amazing 360° views. Last week I had a video interview with a candidate and at the end I hauled my laptop to the window to give them a glimpse of the scenery. I’m not the only one impressed…after the move everyone brought friends and families and there were a ton of people staring out the windows or taking pictures. Because we anticipate growing the office here, we have many open seats for future Groupon employees. And as an added bonus, our gaming rooms are sound proof, allowing you to play without disturbing anyone’s work.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. We’re looking to add tech talent to our Engineering teams in Seattle; check out our current openings!

Michael Janusa, Software Engineer

Michael Janusa, Software Engineer

What’s it like to be an Engineer at Groupon in Seattle? Michael Janusa, a current Software Development Engineer, talks about impact of work as well as learning from teammates. Plus, a brand new office with a stunning view doesn’t hurt.

Title: Software Development Engineer – Goods
Start date: February 2015

What brought you to Groupon? Before joining Groupon, I was working at a much larger technology company in the Seattle area where I was a bit frustrated with the slow-moving nature and low impact of the work. I started looking for opportunities in the area with smaller engineering teams where I would be able to have a larger impact and discovered the opportunity at Groupon. During my onsite interview with my team, I became very excited about joining Groupon after hearing about the various interesting, high-impact projects they were working on.

You work on the Goods team; how is the work you do impacting the Goods business? I work on the Groupon Goods logistics team, which handles the fulfillment of all of our customers’ Goods orders. We are able to have a huge impact on both the company’s performance and the overall customer experience. As a still relatively young business, there are still countless opportunities in our logistics operations to increase efficiency that leads to both cutting costs and faster delivery of orders. It is incredible how large of a financial impact a small change in our process can have due to the scale of the Goods business.

How have you grown professionally since starting at Groupon? My team at Groupon consists of some of the most talented engineers I have encountered in my career. As one of the more junior engineers on our team, I have been able to expand my engineering skills very quickly as I learn from my teammates. Groupon is also a bit unique in that engineers are tasked with a much larger project management role than is often expected of engineers so I have been able dive much deeper into the business aspects of the job and grow skills that branch outside of engineering.

How’s the new Seattle office? The new office is absolutely amazing. The building we are in is one of the tallest buildings in Seattle and a bit of an icon in the Seattle skyline. The office itself has beautiful views of Puget Sound and the Space Needle from basically every corner of the office. It’s great being able to come to such a beautiful office every day.

What’s the culture in Seattle like? We have a really tight-knit team; everyone on the team is always very open to jumping in and helping out if you’re in need or just sitting down to bounce ideas off of one another. We regularly go out to lunch together and have team events off site about once per quarter.  Our engineering culture is very fast paced and we often have multiple projects going at one time. Since our projects often have high impact on the company, there is frequently a lot of pressure to get our projects done on time, but our team manages to stay fairly relaxed in what can be a high-pressure environment.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory so far? I’ve made a lot of great memories at Groupon through various team events and engineering challenges so it is quite difficult to pick one as a favorite. I think one of the most interesting things I have done since joining Groupon was traveling to Kentucky to see our Goods Fulfillment Center. It was really exciting to see how the code we write in Seattle directly effects the operations of the warehouse as well as the people that work there.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. We’re looking to add tech talent to our Engineering teams in Seattle; check out our current openings!

Geekfest Evangelism in Seattle

Geekfest Evangelism in Seattle

Title: Director of Engineering, Consumer Experience Groupon Getaways
Location: Seattle
Start Date: December 2010

Can you talk about Geekfest? What is it? Geekfest is a technology-agnostic software developer meetup that was launched by Obtiva back in 2007. After Groupon acquired Obtiva in 2011, the tradition continued in Chicago. In July of 2014, Geekfest Seattle started and in November of 2015 we kicked off efforts to start Geekfest Palo Alto.

Geekfest is an open meetup where you can hear from both Groupon speakers as well as external folk. We always invite people outside Groupon to join us in person or to watch live stream on our YouTube Channel.

What has your involvement been in Geekfest? When I first moved to Seattle, I felt there was a lack of learning opportunities in the office. After some time I decided to launch Geekfest in Seattle; this came to fruition in June of 2013 after I was able to lock in our first speaker. This wasn’t an easy task, considering I had only recently moved to Seattle and didn’t have many connections yet. We initially started running Geekfest Seattle once a month and we run it twice a month now that we have more than 1,000 members.

What interesting Engineering challenges are you tackling here at Groupon? There are never-ending challenges here, but my favorite one is helping my teams and individuals grow and develop professionally. This means many things, whether it’s inspiring them to tackle challenges or helping them focus on important projects by minimizing distractions and blockers.

What do you love most about working here? I have been here for more than 5 years, so it’s always nice to look back and see how much we have achieved. The thing that I love the most—the one that keeps me coming back to work everyday—is my team. Their passion, their openness to new challenges, and their willingness to work together in order to make everyone a better Engineer is inspiring.

What advice do you have for people interested in working at Groupon, especially in Engineering? What’s unique about Groupon Engineering is that no two teams are alike. However, one thing that’s consistent across the board is each team’s direct impact on the business. Groupon is open to trying new things with the understanding that there is value in learning from mistakes. It’s a place where you can directly shape the culture around you all while facing unique technology challenges and working with incredibly smart people.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?
a space cat watching
people’s group buying power
revolution starts

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Check out our Getaways Engineering openings here!

Tackling Travel in Seattle

Tackling Travel in Seattle

Name: Santosh Ameti
Location: Seattle
Title: Senior Software Development Manager
Start Date: June 2015

What brought you to Groupon from Amazon and Microsoft?

In a short span of 7 years, Groupon has pioneered a new industry and remained the dominant leader in the space. The potential the company has and the growth it has exhibited thus far is exemplary. Local is very critical and important for any neighborhood and in the era of internet taking over physical stores, Groupon is doing a wonderful job  helping local merchants improve their visibility and increase foot traffic. This has created a new way of efficiently spending marketing dollars for any small business shop and in turn having a direct positive impact on their business.

Groupon is a great marketing engine to get foot falls into any local store with minimal cost. The potential the company has is tremendous; what we have done so far is really a drop in the bucket in this space and there is still a ton to achieve. All of these challenges at such a massive scale are very exciting.

What do you work on and what does your team do? 

I manage the Inventory Platform for Getaways. My team focuses on creating a generic platform that can scale across geographies and meet the growing demands of Groupon Getaways. We have various types of travel offerings from diversified sources across the globe; these are consumed by various systems to present to our consumers. It’s a great deal of detail one needs to incorporate to make the same solution work across different countries with minimal or no modifications. We focus on building the next generation platform that enables us to provide our customers with a wide variety of travel deals and bundle it with our amazing local deals.

Can you describe the culture here? 

There are two things to call out: one is the people and the other is the environment. It’s a vibrant workplace filled with enthusiastic people. Groupon has an amazingly fast-paced environment and yet still provides a great work life balance. The environment encourages us to innovate and keep ourselves up to date with the latest and greatest in the technology world. People here are smart, enthusiastic, and collaborate with each other instead of competing; they are approachable and always available to extend their helping hand.

What’s unique about working on Getaways? 

One unique thing about travel is it’s global yet still local to the region. We are placed in a strategic way to extend the local relationships we have with travel and offer a complete solution to our customers. Getaways started about 3 years ago when we realized that our customers were interested in travel deals. Within a short span it became a key growing business and remains a key focus for the company. We are working on extending the solutions we built for the US to global countries and improve the selection for our customers.

What’s challenging about working with travel and what’s exciting about it? 

I believe there are several challenges in the travel space to tackle and we have a chance to create a great solution for our customers. Today you have to visit multiple websites to plan travel, read reviews, reserve activities…it’s a time consuming activity. With our great partnerships we have the potential to be the one-stop place for all travel needs.

Anything else? 

Outside work I like to travel and try different cuisines (I’m vegetarian!) 🙂

I write poems whenever I’m in the mood and have self-published a kindle book. I like playing games indoor and outdoor and am an ardent follower of Cricket.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Interested in working with Santosh on Getaways challenges? He’s actively looking for an Engineer and Engineering Manager, both Backend for Getaways.