Title: Incident Manager, Production Operations
Preferred pronouns: He/Him/His
¿Cuántos espacios usa Claver? Wie viele räume nutzt Claver? Quantos espaços o Claver usa? How many languages does he know, anyway? Read his story to find out.
First things first: tabs or spaces?
Now that I use Python … 4 spaces it is.
So you’ve been here a while…what was your first role at Groupon? How did you get to where you are now?
I joined Groupon after asking myself a very difficult, existential question: Should I leave the telecom world or not? I had worked with Cellular Systems at Motorola for about 15 years. During those years, I’ve worked with great technologies, from the analog cellular systems, Digital CDMA systems, through 2G, 2.5G, 3G, and 4G Cellular Networks. I felt very comfortable working in that field but felt it was time to try something new, and e-commerce, Groupon, and the cats were all just too interesting to pass up.
So, when I joined Groupon in 2012, I joined as a Site Reliability Engineer, which was a team that was just being created. It was very difficult for me at first to adapt to the new e-commerce world. Everything was new to me which often times made me wonder if I had made the right choice. But as my manager told me, “I hired you for your vast experience troubleshooting all types of cellular systems and applications for 15 years, not for your e-commerce experience.” I decided to put all my effort into learning all this and start troubleshooting.
A couple of years later, the TDO (Technical Duty Officer) team was created and I was asked to start that team. Luckily, all my hard work and drive to find and solve problems paid off. I have been with the TDO team since then, the team is now called “Incident Management”. We are now a global team with 10 engineers spread across the globe. Nine years later, I’m still here and enjoying what I’m doing.
What’s your favorite Groupon memory?
The annual TDO Summits in one Groupon office (Palo Alto, Seattle, Chicago) are my favorite memories because they give me the opportunity to meet in person so many of the coworkers and friends I interact with online.
Can’t wait for the next summit. We didn’t have one in 2020 or 2021. Next one has to be big .. I’m secretly hoping for Dublin.
Tell us about your job! What do you do exactly? What do you love about it?
That’s a tough one. I wear many hats. For those familiar with ITIL, we do incident, problem, and change management on a 24/7 basis.
An Incident Manager is an engineer who is familiar with their company’s entire infrastructure (or most of it) and is able to see the bigger picture of incidents. We own the high-severity production incidents, troubleshoot them, and are responsible to drive them to closure. We make sure these incidents do not happen again by meeting with teams and understanding the root cause of the incidents and creating/assigning action items to prevent these issues in the future. We overview production deploys and changes. We understand the risk/benefit and allow or not these changes or suggest new times for them. Most of this is automated and happens automatically, but we look at the risky ones in great detail.
I am constantly on the lookout for problems and figuring out how to troubleshoot them before they become or trigger higher-severity incidents.
I love my job because I can see the impact it makes to the Groupon site. I find issues that are out in the wild and unnoticed, making some users sad or disappointed at our site because of a Sad Cat page (Error Page) that they may have received while navigating our site. My goal is to prevent as many of those sad stories from happening as much as I can. We get to know many people from every corner of the company and from all over the world. Every day is a new adventure.
You clearly love what you do here, but what keeps you fulfilled outside of work?
Outside work, I’m usually playing tennis, pickleball, practicing Tae Kwon Do, in a movie theater, or trying some new restaurant. With three boys with ages from 12 – 18, there is always something going on. I love to travel and visit new places, my favorite destination: Europe.
What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?
The diversity! People from different countries and cultures, all working together in harmony. I love it.
What’s something you think external folks would be surprised to learn about Groupon’s Engineering organization?
No matter what part of engineering you specialized in, you have a place here. Software engineering, Networking, Systems Engineering, Data Science, Cloud Technologies, Project/Program/Product Management, etc.
Vim or emacs? why?
Vim. I’ve used it for so many years and I still find new things to learn.
Name your favorite programming language.
I’m not a developer, so Bash is what I use. I’ve tried Ruby also, but I end up doing stuff in Bash. I’m now starting to play with Python, and I’m liking it.
What was your first impression of Groupon?
I moved from an ‘old’ company to a young one. The office was very cool and the people were super friendly. I was totally overdressed for my interviews; it was summer and everybody was wearing t-shirts, shorts, and sandals. I thought, wow, what a cool place, I want to dress like that.
What do your parents think you do?
I’ve heard my parents say, “He does engineering things to fix problems,” and, “he sells coupons on the internet.”
What’s your favorite local business?
There is a Mexican restaurant close to my house called ‘Tacos Locos.’ I buy a Groupon deal every time it comes out. They already know what I order … three tacos ‘Al Pastor’ with a side of guacamole and a bottle of Jarritos.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I am originally from Peru and hold a degree in Electronics Engineering. I came to the US in 2000 to work for Motorola in Arlington Heights (Chicagoland) in the Global Cellular Systems Support Center. Spanish is my native tongue, but I can communicate in German and have some knowledge of Portuguese. I’m a big fan of Dragon Ball (Japanese Anime), but who isn’t, right? .. right? ... I’m also a total sucker for dogs … any breed or size. And most importantly, I have to agree with Barney Stinson, Johnny Lawrence was the real Karate Kid. And now that you have all watched Cobra Kai -- I know you agree with me!
Rapid Fire Questions
I have been working remotely since I started in 2012. I was ready for the Pandemic long ago.
Both. I’m awake at around 6am, and playing a tennis match by 8am. And sometimes awake until past 11pm.
I’m caught up with all my series right now, so I just started something I should’ve started long ago, “The Sopranos”. I also love the series from Spain. If you haven’t tried them you are missing out.
Online Live Cooking Class - I prepared Ravioli from Scratch.
A few … Assisi in Italy, Rome, Granada in Spain and Berlin (went to the Groupon office there).
“A problem well stated is a problem half solved”. I read the quote from Charles Kettering many years ago and resonated with me. It applies to my job very closely.
Visit the Greek Islands.
Skydiving. It must be an amazing experience, but I know I won’t do it.