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Published on Friday, 11 Jan 2013
Ivy Ngai, head of HR at Groupon HK, wants staff with personality.
Photo: Dickson Lee

A young and energetic social-commerce company that is changing the way shopping is done online, Groupon is looking for similarly young and energetic new staff who are full of new and exciting ideas.

The company, which now employs close to 150 people in Hong Kong, is part of the Nasdaq-listed Groupon family which employs 12,000 people in 47 countries. It has 20 local vacancies for staff in its sales and retail operations.

“Teamwork is the first priority in this super-fast-paced company, which has an open culture and allows talent to shine,” says Ivy Ngai, head of human resources in Hong Kong.

Previous work experience in an e-commerce company will be an advantage, but is not essential, as Groupon prefers to focus on an applicant’s personality.

“I will read every résumé in detail and think about what position would be the most suitable for the applicant according to their preferences and personality. We are not just looking to fill a post – we want the right person in the right position,” Ngai says.

The company’s ten-point list of core values states the kind of soft skills and personality necessary to fit in and excel at the company. A pro-active attitude paired with an innovative mind fits these values perfectly.

“We are not looking for followers. Top management is very open-minded. They are looking for candidates who bring new ideas, good experience, and can voice out what they think. We welcome having a number of different voices.”

Applicants who can both adapt to the rapidly changing environment and drive the change themselves will excel, as the company wants employees who can help it to continuously evolve by improving processes and streamlining procedures.

“The company has an open-minded culture and is a good place for one to show their talent. Even fresh graduates can contribute by applying what they have learned at university,” Ngai says.

“We still have a lot of room to grow further and lots of opportunities are opening up. The financial controller position, for example, is a new opening. Employees can grow up with the company.”

New employees working in sales receive a thorough orientation and three days of sales training. Customised training is offered on the company’s business model, relationship building, product knowledge, pitching and how to approach customers in different industries.

“They are not simply sales staff, they are business partners and consultants for our merchants. They have to show clients how Groupon can maximise their business,” Ngai says.

Sales staff have to be able to show the strengths and weaknesses of the industry and educate customers on how they can enlarge their market share through using Groupon.

Staff can also be seconded or transferred abroad for training. Before Groupon opened their retail store in Causeway Bay recently, for example, the head of operations received training in Singapore on running a retail store.

Teamwork remains the main requirement and the company provides many opportunities to develop team spirit. A teambuilding allowance every month can be used for meals or karaoke, providing a good opportunity for team members to engage in informal communication, while team heads can understand the needs of their staff better.

During the popular Friday lunch-and-learn events, the company provides lunch boxes for everyone and staff can play games and share some information. The company also holds painting days and Christmas parties, and participates in corporate social responsibility activities. It recently arranged for everyone to go to Ocean Park to celebrate the company’s second anniversary.

“Keep an eye on us. We are still growing and will have lots of new openings,” Ngai says.

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