Top Places to Work

These workers love their jobs

As we researched this year’s Top Places to Work, we asked employees what they liked best about their jobs.

The responses showed the many different ways that people find satisfaction at the workplace. Some love to help others, some relish the intellectial stimulation, and some look forward to helping their companies grow.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Diana Rendon

  • Employer: East Boston Neighborhood Health Center

  • Job: Registered nurse

  • Being an R.N. in the department of chronic disease is the most fascinating job I’ve ever had. Every patient is unique, and I love teaching each one about the value of healthy living. One patient that comes to mind is a 39-year-old man with diabetes: After he learned about the importance of exercise and proper diet, he lost 50 pounds and his blood sugar went back to normal. I myself was a patient at the health center seven years ago, and seeing the helpful, professional, and kind staff was a big motivator for me to earn my nursing degree.

  • Fun fact: I’m a leader in my church and help teach others about the Bible. Engaging people in spiritual life is very meaningful to me.


Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Igor Kaplansky

  • Employer: CarGurus

  • Job: Senior Software Architect

  • There isn’t a single part of CarGurus that I haven’t been involved with, from linear regressions that go into figuring out the best value of a car to natural language processing that summarizes user reviews. I helped build this website from an initial concept and implemented a million different projects, so I never get bored. Now that we are becoming one of the largest auto shopping websites in the nation, I’m applying mathematical and big data concepts. I like the engineering process here; when anyone has a new idea, there’s little formality or bureaucracy, so new solutions are launched every day.

  • Fun fact: I am a musician by training in Ukraine; I play violin and piano. I also have a black belt in Kung Fu.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Carlos Espinosa

  • Employer: Boston Harbor Hotel

  • Job: Room service waiter

  • I’ve been here for 26 years — as a dishwasher and busboy and now I deliver meals to guests. I work the second shift, from 3 to 11 p.m., and serve between 20 and 30 dinner orders a night, and try to do it better and faster every time. I’ll pick up the order from the kitchen, bring the meal to the room, and set up the table. I’ve met people from all around the world, including presidents of foreign countries, sports stars, and celebrities. The kids love the fact that I roll a table into the room, and I bring them milk and cookies. I’ve seen a lot of things happen inside the hotel rooms, but I never talk about what I see.

  • Fun fact: I have a knack for fixing broken objects, whether it’s a TV, iPod, clock, or toy. I go to yard sales and if I find something that doesn’t work, I take it apart and try to figure out what’s wrong.

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Stephanie Desenclos

  • Employer: Johnson Compounding and Wellness

  • Job: Pharmacy Technician

  • Everything we prepare here is custom-made in our pharmacy — it’s not like at the chain drugstores, where prescriptions are just grabbed from the shelf. It might be hand cream, flavored medicine for kids, or even special pet formulas. When I first started here eight years ago, I wasn’t that interested in health and wellness, but now I’m fascinated with the work we do. The compounding of remedies is very hands on, like following a recipe for cooking. The patients are always very thankful, because many of them have tried everything on the market and compounding is the last resort.

  • Fun fact: I enjoy old music from the 1960s, like the song “Cupid” by Sam Cooke. They don’t make songs like that anymore.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Olga Shilova

  • Employer: Whole Foods

  • Job: Cheese and Speciality Department Head

  • I knew absolutely nothing about cheese at first. But now I have developed quite a palate, and I’ve learned a lot about where cheese comes from and how it’s made. I’d guess that we have between 300 and 400 different kinds of cheeses, and I’ve tried every single one of them. The inventory rotates constantly, and keeping up with this seasonality is a big part of my job. A lot of our customers are looking for locally made cheeses from Massachusetts or Vermont, so it’s important to have those in stock. My favorite part is talking to the customers and having them sample the cheese.

  • Fun fact: I took a floral design class so I’m a certified floral designer, which helps me with arranging displays and platters.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Lydia Rajunas

  • Employer: Re/max

  • Job: Sales Associate

  • I’m an opera singer and was on national tour as Christine in “Phantom of the Opera,” but it was time to start thinking about life after the theater. A year ago, a friend told me that I’d be really good at being a real estate agent, and he was right. I’m great at helping people solve problems such as how to properly market a house, get financing, or negotiate a deal. I sometimes feel like I should wear a T-shirt that says, ‘Don’t make me use my opera voice.’ And yes, sometimes I do sing when asked; it’s usually in an empty house so we don’t disturb the neighbors. My e-mail address is still ‘thedeeve,’ as in diva.

  • Fun fact: I have four cats, which probably makes me a crazy cat lady. They are Tonkinese, which is a cross between Siamese and Burmese — they are the sweetest, kindest, cats.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Shane Larson

  • Employer: Genocea, Cambridge

  • Job: Associate research scientist

  • Science is rarely a straightforward endeavor. It takes a lot of patience and passion to arrive at a solution that works. Much of my work has been centered around understanding the T cell response. I’ve used a number of techniques to learn more about these vaccine antigens. Most recently, I’ve been heavily involved in clinical trial work. This has been an eye-opening experience, learning firsthand what it takes to test a drug in humans. Rarely do researchers like myself who develop a vaccine get to be a part of the translational process where individuals are getting the drugs they need to lead healthier, happier lives.

  • Fun fact: My family loves to take long road trips, and we’ve been to 48 states, visiting most of the beautiful national parks like the Grand Canyon. No matter how many times you see it, it’s still awe-inspiring.

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Xiaolei Hua

  • Employer: PeoplesBank

  • Job: Assistant Vice President Credit Officer

  • I started here right after graduation and was promoted to project management officer and then moved into the commercial lending department. I like the technical aspect of the credit underwriting process. Every day is different as we evaluate the ways we can help everyone from small businesses to large corporations succeed. Looking at all these different entities satisfies my curiosity. I also founded the bank’s environmental committee, which aims to instill sustainable practices into all areas of the company’s operations. Through this committee came probably the best gift this job has given me: meeting my future wife.

  • Fun fact: I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity because I enjoy making a difference — and I also like home improvement projects. I like to swing a hammer.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Jan Dik

  • Employer: Edward Jones

  • Job: Financial advisor

  • It’s always been my dream to have my own financial office on Main Street, USA. Now I have my little perch in downtown Topsfield with the address of 27 Main St. I enjoy working with my clients to help them develop a plan to reach their long-term financial goals. Many working families struggle to try to allocate resources toward both education and retirement, and we give them tools to do so. I love the thank-you cards I get — one woman’s goal was to travel, and she sends me postcards from wherever she goes. The latest one was from South America and it said, ‘Jan, thanks for making this possible.

  • Fun fact: I’m an endurance athlete; last month I finished the Ironman Lake Placid, which is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a marathon.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Shelby Buxton

  • Employer: Boston Heart Diagnostics

  • Job: Reimbursement specialist

  • When I was younger, I suffered from sudden cardiac arrest, so working for a company dedicated to better heart health is meaningful to me. I feel connected to what we do. My job is to make the claims payment process easier, and I spend a lot of time on the phone and doing paperwork. I feel like I do my small part to fight against this number-one killer. My co-workers and my team are great to work with, and I’m sure many of them also have a connection to the important mission here.

  • Fun fact: I like to write poetry in my journal; I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Going for a walk every day and seeing the changes in nature inspires a lot of my poems.

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