Title: Audio Visual Engineer
Location: Chicago, IL
Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His
Audio/visual extraordinaire, Sam, does it all with a sense of humor and an unrelenting commitment to keeping us all connected!
First things first! Congratulations on your Global Green Award. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Thank you! I was one of six Grouponers across the globe who was recognized in Q1 2021 for demonstrating excellence in living one of our core values. I was nominated by teammates for “Inspiration”, which at Groupon, means bringing your best daily, and using your creativity to delight and uplift others. We even received a pair of custom green Chuck Taylor shoes, which is our way of saying someone is literally ‘walking the walk’.
Tell us a little about your role and your team.
I am an Audio/Visual Engineer for the Unified Communications Team here at Groupon. We are responsible for administering Zoom video chat, the physical video conferencing systems in the office, Slack, and our phone systems. On top of that, we work with the Communications teams to facilitate our large scale company-wide meetings.
Before getting into things, how has your (work) day-to-day changed in light of Covid-19?
We made the switch to Zoom as Groupon’s sole video chat client about 2 years prior to the start of the pandemic, so the transition to a 100% remote work environment was seamless for our team. Team meetings that typically had one or two people joining remotely now had everyone remote, and our major events were now virtual. Thankfully, most of our Zoom support and documentation was already in place for employees to make the transition seamlessly, and we placed a greater emphasis on proactively promoting Zoom and its features.
How has your experience in other roles helped you in your current position?
I used to provide tech support over the phone for video coordinators troubleshooting their video capture setups. Understanding the signal flow of AV setups has been a huge asset, as it eliminates the need to be in person to troubleshoot. It also helps when building out workflows, as I understand where things typically go wrong, and I’m able to plan for that.
Additionally, starting my career in customer service and hospitality taught me skills that are often overlooked in our field. While I believe technical skills can be taught or referenced on the internet, learning how to empathize and effectively communicate with your customer (fellow employees in our instance) is just as valuable as knowing how to fix the problem.
Where did you grow up and how did you get into IT?
I studied film production at the University of New Orleans. After graduation, outside of competing against a very large pool of fresh grads to be a PA on a film set, or venturing out and making my own film, the options seemed very limiting. I found myself submitting applications for anything that had “video” in the job description and got my start working as an intern for AmeriCorps. From there, I moved to Chicago on a whim and ended up in a job doing sports video analytics for 5 years before joining Groupon. I have always had a knack for technology and problem solving so my role was a natural fit.
What was your first job?
I worked the night shift in a recycling sorting facility. I operated a giant guillotine that would cut paper rolls off of cardboard tubes. Still got all my fingers
Why would you recommend a career within your team?
I’ve met a lot of interesting, dedicated, and inspiring folks in the engineering department and we truly have some of the best employees with diverse backgrounds. I’ve also never felt like I was in a repetitive rut while working here. Right when I feel like I might be getting complacent, something new and challenging arises, causing me to change and adapt, keeping me on my toes.
What do you miss about being in the office?
I miss being able to ride my bike to the office in the summer for my daily commute. It was exactly 30 minutes door to door, and even though the ride home could get pretty brutal on a hot afternoon, the morning ride was a great way of waking up and starting my day before getting to the office.
Favorite pre-Covid activity you can’t wait to get back to?
I love traveling. I had a trip to Japan planned for April 2020 that has since been postponed. We actually booked the trip via Groupon Getaways as a result of an internal raffle I won! I submitted a candidate for an Engineering role, and when they were selected for an interview, my name was entered into the contest to win a trip. I couldn’t believe it when they said my name was selected! I’m also looking forward to going to concerts again.
Any embarrassing moments at work? Tell us about it!
I was fixing a TV that was on display in the Sales department, and when I finished, I climbed back down to the ground, and my pant leg caught a thermostat control that was mounted on the same pillar as the TV. My pants ripped down the side, all the way to my knee, which caught the attention of everyone on the Sales floor! As I processed what just happened, I heard someone ask if I was okay, and after assuring them I wasn’t hurt, I hurried off to the Target down the street and bought a new pair of pants. I’d say that was pretty embarrassing!
What do your parents think you do?
If you could take your pick of any other job within Groupon, which job would you want? (all experience aside)?
On occasion, I enjoy getting knee-deep in Excel and watching YouTube tutorials to learn complex functions and then testing them out. So I’d probably say something in Finance.
Rapid Fire Questions
My neighbor gifted me a bunch of bread flour at the start of quarantine. I’ve made breads, pretzels, bagels…I love a good carb.
Is it possible to be neither?
I bought an ice fishing excursion from Wet’N’Wild Outfitters. It was great! Had a tent to protect us from the wind, a heat lamp to keep us warm, and all the tackle. The perfect Covid friendly trip.
Pose on FX.
Peaches – The Presidents of the United States of America.