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.

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.

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

Abby & Jinting: Michigan seniors on the Application Security Team

Abby & Jinting: Michigan seniors on the Application Security Team

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?

Abby: Hi! My name is Abby Grobbel and I am interning with Groupon this summer! I will be a senior at the University of Michigan. I am studying computer science engineering with a minor in German language.

Jinting: Hey! My name is Jinting Hayter.  I am also a senior Computer Science student at the University of Michigan. This summer, Abby and I are on the Application Security (AppSec) team in Chicago.

Tell us about your team!

Abby: The AppSec team focuses on reviewing code and conducting tests on Groupon’s site to ensure secure implementation, as well as handling security threats and researching better ways to implement security. AppSec communicates with the rest of the engineering teams throughout development.

Jinting: I couldn’t have said it better myself. You might not typically hear that much about the security teams within Groupon, but we’re here and we’re important! There’s also this thing called ‘Red Team,’ which is where the security team does penetration testing and tries to exploit security flaws in Groupon’s website. Abby and I have been familiarizing ourselves with some hacking techniques over the past couple weeks in preparation for that.

What are you working on this summer?

Abby: I’ve been involved in building a web application to manage the security status of all of Groupon’s internal applications. Rather than manually sorting through over 500 applications, it gathers data from Groupon’s central repository and presents the team the most crucial applications that need security audits. Each application can be ‘grabbed’ by a member of the application security team and when the security check is done, marked as secure. Not only does this streamline the workflow for performing security audits within Groupon, it also allows the team to better visualize the scope of all vulnerable applications within Groupon and the team’s progress over time. It integrates a few different tools the team currently relies on, primarily a tool called Codeburner, which runs each application through a pipeline of tools to reveal security risks. Beyond just this project, discussing ways to remediate vulnerabilities and being included in the team’s discussions of new ways to improve security has been a great learning experience.

Jinting: I’ve also been working on the project Abby described in detail above. My role has been primarily integrating Codeburner into the dashboard, receiving burn data for a given service and sending it to get scanned for vulnerabilities by the Codeburner application. Another really cool project I’m starting to get  involved with is the Groupon Online Defense dashboard. Very simply, Groupon Online Defense manages web traffic to identify abusive actors by IP address. The dashboard is actually only one of three parts that make up the system – the other two parts being Behavioral Modeling and Repsheet. AppSec is mainly responsible for maintaining the dashboard, the UI component of the system, which allows users to view the status of the system in addition to manually submitting actions. It’s a very sophisticated and complex piece of software and I’m super excited that I have been given the opportunity to work on it!

What is it like working at Groupon?

Abby: So far everyone at Groupon has been extremely welcoming and willing to offer help and guidance when I need it. The quirky atmosphere makes coming to work everyday exciting and all the different events for engineers throughout the week definitely encourage a learning environment. It’s amazing being able to work for a company which consistently invests in the development of its employees.

Jinting: Ditto to what Abby said. Working at Groupon has been really awesome so far! Everyone has such a great attitude all the time and treats the interns like they would treat anyone else who works at Groupon, nothing less. I really enjoy working with my team as well. We all have great chemistry and help each other out when we see each other struggling, all while making sure we’re still having fun and not taking things too seriously!

Any highlights this summer?

Abby: For me, my summer highlights have been our architectural boat cruise of downtown chicago, attending the Pride Parade with Groupon’s float, and enjoying the many amazing places to eat in the city with the Groupon Chicago tech interns.

Jinting: So many! Getting to know the other interns and goofing around in the city has been really fun. Just a couple days ago, a bunch of us went to Taste of Chicago, and a couple weeks ago, we marched in the Pride Parade. P.S. 10/10, highly recommend. It was truly an amazing experience.

I recently started a program with the mission of getting the engineers in the Chicago office to get to know one another a bit more, in a casual setting. Essentially, teams are paired each week and are encouraged to grab lunch together, have interesting conversation, and maybe even learn a thing or two about how the other team operates. I was given the opportunity to pitch my idea to all the engineers at one of the weekly ‘Hello, Chicago!’ tech all hands meetings, and I got an overwhelmingly positive response. Over 24 teams have signed up so far! It began as a little idea, but with the help of my manager, I was able to reach out to the right people and the rest is history. My advice for future interns is just to be loud with your ideas and visions. You never know, it could really take off!

Annie & Lisa: EECS students & bubble soccer pros

Annie & Lisa: EECS students & bubble soccer pros

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.

Nice to meet you! Who are you?

Hi I’m Annie, and I’m an SDET intern on the Mobile tools, infrastructure and automation team focusing on the Android platform! I’m a rising junior EECS Undergrad from UC Berkeley, living in SF right now but originally hailing from SoCal (OC/LA 626 area). In terms of coding, I got into programming during high school because I went to this really nerdy tech school with a lot of CS classes. I started off making super simple games and useless apps, of course, but gradually throughout college I’ve learned more about the true beauty and power of computer engineering!

Hello! My name is Lisa and I am also an SDET intern on the Mobile tools, infrastructure and automation team but I’m focusing on the iOS platform. I am also a rising junior studying EECS at UC Berkeley! I was born in Seoul, Korea but I’ve lived in Cupertino for most of my childhood. I knew I was interested in engineering when I joined my high school Robotics Club, but I first got into Computer Science through my AP CS class in my senior year and have stuck with it ever since!

Which Groupon team have you joined?

Annie: As an important part of QA, my team specifically works with many internal tools designed to streamline feature rollout plans and ensure that every release is polished and bug-free! It’s a great way to see how different teams need to collaborate and work together during a full end-to-end development cycle.

Lisa: As part of the automations team, we work on making sure all the automation systems and integration tools are working together smoothly as one process. It is our job to manage the internal tools used to run the QA process. In addition, we also write the automation tests regarding the iOS mobile app, making sure the new features work and don’t break the existing app.

What projects are you working on this summer?

Annie: Recently I’ve been working on new jobs for Jenkins, Groupon’s continuous integration tool in which automation and test-driven development play a huge role. For example, one CI job builds a nightly matrix run of test suites on the master branch that test over 1000+ scenarios on all the Android emulator versions. A new improvement I’ve worked on is to integrate these test suites into a new job that would allow developers to run the matrix tests on their own feature branch and catch bugs early before integrating into the master branch, serving as a sort of preliminary filter for dangerous errors. Of course, manually looking through thousands of test results and analyzing which feature branches differed on which tests is an immense pain, so I’ve also created a new test comparison job. This tool retrieves test run data from the stability database and compares it to test results on different branches and different emulator versions, making it a lot simpler to see where a certain change broke or fixed things. The whole idea is to continuously streamline the process of implementing and perfecting new app developments!

Lisa: I’ve been working on a few projects during the first month of my internship. My first task was to work with the Smoke Test Suite and Jenkins, the continuous integration tool that Annie mentioned above, to automatically trigger a job to run a few preliminary tests and report the results directly to Github. This would allow developers to catch bugs that might have broken certain basic functionality or automation before it is added to the main project. I was able to learn a lot about Jenkins and other tools we use at Groupon mobile and work on projects that would directly impact the team. It has been really exciting to see my work being used by the other engineers!

I’ve also gotten experience with learning how to write automation tests for the iOS app. I had to write tests that would be run by Jenkins and checked that certain aspects of the app are running smoothly and accurately. Automation was something totally new to me and I’m so glad that I get to play around with it because I am learning a lot about testing in the industry and a lot of new technical skills as well.

Tell us a bit about Groupon’s culture

Annie: Groupon has an awesome work culture where everyone is super friendly and willing to help! I love that there’s free lunch served every day in Palo Alto which makes it really easy to bond with coworkers and learn about people beyond their work lives. There’s also so many fun events during the summer that really puts forward the whole “work hard, play hard” mentality!

Lisa: The culture at Groupon has been extremely welcoming and helpful. From the first day, everyone around me made an effort to offer their help. I was invited to the all the meetings and was easily integrated into the normal work day. Their friendliness made it easy for me to ask questions and learn quickly. Groupon also plans a lot of events for their employees which makes work more fun and rewarding.

What’s been the best part of your summer?

Annie: There’s been so many fun and unique summer events for interns and full-timers alike! From bubble soccer, to riding a mechanical bull, to zip lining, it’s really hard to pick just one part that’s my favorite. Soon we’re going to a cooking class with our mentors, so since that involves food, I’m super excited!!

Lisa: The best part of the summer so far has been all the intern activities! There are some activities planned by Groupon, such as playing bubble soccer, but also activities that we planned ourselves, like going to Redwood City to watch Finding Dory together. Each of those activities have allowed us to grow closer together as an intern class and provide us with a group of friends where we can be comfortable with each other and learn from each other’s experiences. I can’t wait to find out what other activities are planned for us in the future! 🙂