Title: Area Manager, Operations
Location: Valencia, Spain
Preferred pronouns: He/Him/His
Whether the glass is half empty or half full, Valencia pioneer and Global Green Award winner Marco L. makes an effort to fill it - especially if it’s with red wine.
First thing's first - tell us a little about your role and your team!
In Content Operations, we receive contracts signed by our Merchants and transform them into something magical. Every day, five excellent Team Leads (TLs) and their teams help me make our webpage an interesting place for e-shopping, delight our customers with awesome offers, discover experiences, and impact local businesses.
How have you grown in your career since joining Groupon?
I started working at Groupon in April 2019. I was part of the first batch of nine employees joining the Valencia Office.
I originally joined Groupon as a Merchant Operations Representative, becoming a Team Lead for Merchant Operations + Content Operations Italy after less than three months. I have to admit that taking on this responsibility with such a short tenure and in a new office was quite challenging. People say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and here I am, confirming that it's true! I was promoted to my current role in September 2021.
What keeps you on #TeamGroupon?
As mentioned above, I was part of the first batch of “pioneers” here in Valencia. If I take a step back and think about my first day at Groupon, I can’t believe how much I've learned, how many experiences I've faced that helped me to grow, and how lucky I am to be surrounded by such amazing people. Overall, I constantly feel that I’m becoming a better professional. And of course, I have a lot of fun!
You manage quite a significantly sized team. How would you describe your managerial style?
I oversee a team composed of five Team Leads and 70 agents. I don't believe there is a perfect managerial style, and at the same time, I think the manager should be flexible enough to adapt to the people reporting to them. Diversity is not only a value but also a resource: having the ability to bring out the best of your people can make a real difference.
The only thing I believe is something “perfect” is when the manager is going to be off for a couple of weeks and knows they don't need to worry about anything because their team is strong. How do I reach that state with my team? I do my best to make sure everyone understands my decisions and our business needs and is not just copy-pasting what I’m saying or doing. Such a solution would work in the very short term only. If you want to be successful, you need to have people around you able to make logical decisions even when you’re not there to give instructions.
Overall, I do my best to transfer my knowledge and empower my team. I’ll add a quote from Steve Jobs that I’ve taken the liberty to modify a bit: “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. It makes more sense to hire smart people and train them enough so they start telling you what to do."
Have you won any awards at Groupon?
I'm deeply honored to have received the “Global Green Award” during Q2 2022. My team described me as “constantly sending out positive energy,” the type of teammate dedicated to making all teammates feel comfortable, validated, and empowered.
My direct reports wrote that I “show up to every meeting with a smile, no matter the hour or subject, and inspire them to leave with one too.” Such appreciation from my colleagues gave me incredible motivation to keep working with high intensity and made me understand that this is the direction I need to follow.
During my TL experience, I won the “Groupon Team Leader Star" award twice. I'm proud of having been nominated not only by my team members but by a large number of agents in the whole Valencia office.
What do you look for when you hire?
What's most important to me is the attitude. Hard skills can be taught if the trainee is willing to learn, open to feedback, and not afraid of making mistakes and learning from them. During the interview, I try to understand the level of humility and team spirit of the candidates; I don’t need a Maradona or a Messi if this person is not able or willing to be part of the team covering somebody else's back. As the saying goes, "If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together."
What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
Like 95% of Italian kids, I dreamed about being a professional football player. In particular, my dream was to become the Goalkeeper of A.C. Milan and, why not, receive the captain's armband also!
However, I had a bad injury at 13 and had to interrupt my dream and return to reality. Now I’m 37 years old. Too late to be a player, but maybe still on time to be a coach?
What was your first job?
My first job was as a check-in and gate agent at Turin Airport in Italy. I started when I was 18 years old and worked there for nine years, having my first experience in Leadership (Lost and Found office TL and Aircraft turn-around coordinator). I believed I would have never left this place of work, but a crisis came, and my company was forced to lay off several workers, including me. When it happened, it wasn’t easy for me to overcome it. But now, looking back, I feel I’ve been lucky to take a new direction that brought me to where I am today.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It's difficult to choose, really. Closing my eyes and trying to select one, my mind made a step back by at least 15 years. I was asked to cover a new duty during my experience at Turin Airport, there was no time to have proper training and the experienced colleague that was working with me wasn’t keen on giving too many instructions.
When I started to complain with her a bit regarding missing guidelines, she replied: “Marco, do you think that somebody taught me how to cover this task? Nobody is really teaching anything. You need to steal the instructions from somebody else's hands.”
My colleague probably wouldn’t be a great match for a trainer position. However, she made me understand that some ingredients should never be left out when working in fast-paced environments: proactivity and curiosity merged with smart, out-of-the-box solutions.
Any embarrassing moments at work?
A couple of months before the COVID-19 quarantine, I was conducting interviews for a role on my previous team. As usual, before the interview, I was happy to show our office to candidates to help them relax and break the ice. While I was in the kitchen with a candidate and I was finally accompanying her to the room for the interview, a colleague approached us and said: “Oh Marco, I’m so happy that I’m finally able to meet your girlfriend! It's nice to meet you!”
I believe it’s quite easy to imagine that the ice I was trying to break was frozen again for a few seconds. Luckily it was nothing serious and everything was solved by laughing together.
What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
1) Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. The only way to avoid defeats is to be open to feedback, understand what went wrong, and take action to fill the gaps.
2) Be humble, and ask for help when needed! There is nothing wrong with asking for help from more experienced colleagues - and don’t just ask them to complete a task: ask them to teach you how to do it!
3) Be supportive and proactively offer your help to your peers. It’s a smart way to create a cooperative environment with positive vibes, create relations and share knowledge.
Rapid Fire Questions
Night owl! But I force myself to get to bed early on the weekdays.
Before asking yourself if the glass is half empty or half full, make an effort to fill it (especially if we are talking about good red wine).
Dine out. I have a strong passion for food and I’m aware that professional chefs are surely able to cook better than I do!
Smoked salmon and poached eggs on avocado toast... yum yum.
Walking my dog at the beach at sunset. Sunrise is even better, but I have some issues waking up that early (see above.)
I never say no to any plan where good food is involved. And yes, I always manage to leave some space for the dessert!
My hidden talent is so concealed that I’ve still not found it. I’ll update you ASAP!
"Peace begins with a smile." - Mother Teresa