Aileen Sandridge – VP of Engineering

Aileen Sandridge – VP of Engineering

AILEEN SANDRIDGE

VP of Engineering, Consumer Platform
Palo Alto, CA
Joined: 2012 & 2015

Overseeing multiple Engineering groups focused on improving the Groupon customer experience is no easy task, yet we think Aileen’s non-smartphone-owning parents do a good job of summarizing her work.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

I have great memories from a week-long off-site with a group of great product, design, and engineering folks aimed at coming up with a new mobile product strategy. It was challenging but amazing, the end result was awesome, and we all ended up so much closer to one another. The vision from that off-site has come to fruition in the award-winning mobile app we have today.

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

Connecting consumers with local businesses is the ultimate goal of everything we do. I tend to be very mission oriented, so I want everything we do to tie in with that goal. Whether it is broadening our local inventory, improving customer reviews, helping local business price their deals optimally, or ensuring we have the scale and redundancy we need to make it through our peak holiday season with confidence, it is all about connecting customers and local businesses.

Where were you before Groupon?

I cut my teeth at Amazon and learned a tremendous amount about how both productive teams and great e-commerce applications get built. I spent some time at a FinTech startup where I learned about grit and ownership and keeping your eye on the big picture. When I had the opportunity to scale mobile at Groupon, I couldn’t turn it down: it was already a premier mobile property and it was so exciting to help take it to the next level.

What was your first role at Groupon and how did you get to where you are today?

I was hired as Senior Director of Engineering, focused on scaling mobile development at Groupon. I got to where I am now by taking it one day at a time, trying to always remain focused on making progress against our most important goals and challenges. As mobile shaped up, I added Consumer Web and GAPI (Groupon API) to my scope where I had a big focus on improving latency. After that, I added GAPI (Groupon API), where improving process and documentation has been a big win, and we have some exciting things in the works on the engineering front. Most recently, I have added important backend consumer services to my scope, including Relevance, Orders, Payments, Identity Services, Financial Engineering, and Data Science.

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

I love it when the team gets into a shared flow state: exchanging ideas and solving problems with everyone contributing, not even aware of the passage of time. A team can only get in that state if they have trust and mutual respect, so it also means you have the foundation for a high-functioning team.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

As a customer, I very much enjoyed the Lady Gaga dance class I took — my first Groupon! I loved that Groupon got my friends and me out experiencing new things.

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What’s your favorite local business?

ZombieRunner, a running store/coffee shop in Palo Alto that also sells specialty licorice and chocolate. The coffee is AMAZING — my favorite drink is the cold brew, but you can’t go wrong — and I love that the owners use their business to share their eclectic passions with the world.

What do your parents think you do?

My parents don’t even own smartphones, so this one was tough! Rather than guess, I just asked my mom. She initially responded to my text message with, “We know u r Vice Pres of Engineering, excellent in what is called ‘coding’.” Later, they followed that up with, “You mentor computer programmers, are excellent in coding, analyzing data, creating websites, striving for quality, team-building, leading by example. Sorry, we don’t know too much re technical language/details. We do know u r working very hard and love you so much!” Aww, thanks, Mom. And not too bad on knowing what I do after all.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

Groupon’s engineering culture is fast-moving and everyone can have a big impact. I love that about Groupon, and know many others who do too. It keeps things exciting and engaging.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I once bungee jumped off of a bridge in South Africa while pregnant. Oops! It was during an around-the-world trip with my husband and I didn’t know I was pregnant yet! I now have a healthy and bright six-year-old daughter, so thankfully, the bungee jump doesn’t seem to have done any harm! I also have a four-year-old daughter. While travel isn’t as easy as it once was, I love being a mom and the trade-off is totally worth it!

What’s been most surprising about working here?

Groupon loves cats, and animated cat gifs feature prominently in our presentations. I love it.

Tabs or spaces?

Spaces

Groupon World Headquarters

Sviatlana – Software Test Engineer

Sviatlana – Software Test Engineer

SVIATLANA KHILKO

Software Test Engineer – Mobile Team
Palo Alto, CA
Joined: 2015

Almost 6,000 miles separate California from Sviatlana’s homeland of Belarus, where she started off as a lawyer only to eventually become an Engineer in Silicon Valley.

What do you love about working at Groupon?

I really enjoy volunteering with my teammates, as it makes me feel amazing to give back to the local community.

What was your first role here?

I joined Groupon as a contract test engineer two years ago and then joined as a full-time Grouponer, thanks to my peers, managers, and mentors! Initially, I was an STE1 and now I’m an STE3. All of the people I work with teach me something new and that helps both me and my team grow.

So what was your first impression of Groupon?

I was impressed with the level of people awesomeness around me! Every person is unique, very smart, professional, each of them has reach personality and impressive background I keep learning from. I was also impressed with the very well-documented and clear process! How easy it is to ramp up, how detailed the instructions, are and how helpful everyone is.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

My life philosophy is to move forward, learn, explore and find enjoyment in the process. I’m always open to new opportunities, people, and situations that I meet on my path. All this and even more I get as a Test Engineer: unpredictability, the need to understand every little detail, the opportunity to work with smart, talented, extraordinary people. I got into the testing in an unusual way: I was born, grew up in, and got Master’s Degree in Law in Belarus. For some time I was engaged in scientific research in this field. Then, I worked as an editor in chief for one of the publishing houses. Later, when the IT industry began to grow rapidly, I decided to try myself in a new role and I’m incredibly happy about making this transition. It’s so great to have the opportunity to change things in life, but at the same time to have my background which helps me a lot in my current role.

What do your parents think you do?

I’m originally from Belarus (small eastern European country) and of course due to generational, cultural, language, and other gaps, it’s very challenging for my mom to understand exactly what I’m doing. But what I know for sure is that my mom is very proud of me and happy that I found a place I really enjoy working in! She notices all the time that I’m growing (personally and professionally) and loves to hear all the stories about Groupon. She takes my job very seriously, so no funny quotes from her! But my son thinks that my work is so great because we always have Nutella in the kitchen 🙂

What’s unique about Groupon Engineering?

Respect. It doesn’t matter what role you’re in, you’ll be listened to and your opinions will be taken seriously.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Testing! It’s so exciting to be the very first person to see new features in action and to put yourself in the customers’ “shoes.”

Groupon World Headquarters

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.

 

What’s the key to real progress for women in Tech? Anu explains.

What’s the key to real progress for women in Tech? Anu explains.

Groupon’s Anu Gali, Director of Engineering & Silicon Valley Biz Journal “Women of Influence” honoree, says getting women interested in the Tech sector is only half the battle.

AnuI was recently honored at the the 2017 “Women of Influence” award ceremony organized by The Silicon Valley Business Journal. Each year the magazine recognizes local business women, community leaders, and philanthropists who have made a difference in their workplace and in the broader Silicon Valley Community. I was one of the honorees this year for a combination of Engineering leadership, entrepreneurship, and volunteer work for various STEM and Women’s Leadership Incubator programs. I am passionate about bringing more women into engineering. I started off working with middle and high school girls through organizations like Girls Who Code and Technovation Challenge.

While these were satisfying, I also realized that the women who get into technology often find it hard to grow into leadership positions without the benefit of good mentorship. I felt that enabling these women to succeed would have a multiplier effect in having them help other women while also acting as role models for girls who want to get into the field. So, I started mentoring career women through organizations such as Grace Hopper and TheClubSV which is an Incubator of Women Leaders. I believe these help me make a bigger impact in the amount of time I have.

The culture at Groupon—based on individual merit and equal opportunity to contribute and grow—is unique in the industry and I feel highly valued here. I cherish the strong, engineering-driven culture where I am able to take initiatives to influence the product direction while working with so many smart people. Women at Groupon as an employee resource group sponsors mentorship, talent development, and other programs geared towards career development. Groupon also sponsors Women Who Code and Grace Hopper through which the employees have access to external meetups, workshops and mentors. As a Director of Engineering, I am currently leading initiatives for voucherless redemption. This is an exciting project where we let customers buy a voucher, link it to their credit card, and enable them to utilize the voucher without any hassle. I strongly believe this will transform the user experience, enable them to use Groupon more often, and be a significant growth driver for our business.

Read more about women in Engineering at Groupon.

A Year in Review | 2016 Employee Volunteer Program Recap

A Year in Review | 2016 Employee Volunteer Program Recap

Our Social Responsibility mission is simple: to help people and communities thrive and prosper. We do this through a secret formula of employee do-goodery, responsible business practices, customer collaboration and nonprofit investment.

2016 has been an exciting year for Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program – a year of increased engagement and more significant impact in the communities where employees live and work. In short order, we’ve seen the culture of employee volunteerism shift from simply being a “nice to do” to being core to our values and a part of who we are as a global leader in local e-commerce.

This past year, we:

  • Engaged more employees in more offices than ever before during the third annual Volunteer-a-thon in June.
  • Piloted the first Grouponsultation (pro bono) cohort where teams of employees worked collaboratively on capacity-building projects with nonprofits to help solve critical community issues.
  • Launched the first Global Leadership Team, where 24 rockstar employees stepped up to support the great volunteer work in offices across the company.
  • Hosted the annual VolunteerMatch Summit bringing industry leaders to our HQ office in Chicago where Groupon’s VP of Sales & Merchant Operations and the EVP’s Executive Sponsor, Jay Klauminzer, delivered the keynote address.

Our volunteers are ready and eager to continue this great work and “do good” with exceptional purpose in the year ahead. Keep an eye out for more to come from Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program in 2017.

Looking for something you can do in your local community? Check out VolunteerMatch for opportunities to get involved in your area.

2016 EVP Recap

2016 EVP Recap