Meet 10 workers who love their jobs
These Massachusetts workers have a passion for what they do, whether driving sales or the corporate shuttle.
JOB: VP international engineering
I had no interest in cars when I first started at CarGurus. I’m still not an expert in cars themselves but am very interested in the way people shop for cars, whether it’s in Germany, the UK, or Canada. I lead the international team as we develop new markets — each country is a whole new set of challenges. It’s not a matter of just changing the code a little bit, but customizing the user experience and interface with a different data infrastructure for each culture. It’s great when we get feedback, like a user in the UK who wrote: “I found a great car through your site. Thanks. Will use you guys again.” The growth is intoxicating to me, and I work with some really smart and capable people. We get projects done quickly and efficiently, yet there’s still a nice work/life balance. I’m expecting a baby in a few months, and I’ll enjoy the generous primary caregiver leave as well. And we need a new car soon, so of course I’m using CarGurus for that. I’m sure I’ll find a great deal.
FUN FACT: When traveling, my husband and I seem to end up in cities that are protesting: Cairo, Athens, Reykjavik, and Paris. But I guess they’re always protesting in Paris.
JOB: Sales manager
They call me “Owdogg” at the office. That’s my nickname as a dancer from the UK, so it’s kind of stuck. I’m not a hip-hop performer anymore, but my unusual skill set — locking, popping, b-boying — is embraced here at Rapid7. There’s always music playing in the sales department, and you can see me break-dancing in recruitment videos and at office parties. All this feels normal when working aside my fellow Moose (our symbol of unity and individualism). I started here as an inexperienced sales rep, shaking at the knees. I had fears that going from a dancer to software-security industry sales would be just too extreme. But on the contrary — self-expression is embraced, and we’re always moving forward to a different rhythm: the beat of hard work, persistence, some good old grit, and always a lot of fun. I have to pinch myself sometimes, because it feels like I’m living some sort of classic American dream.
FUN FACT: I’m a huge Arsenal Football Club fan and was born and raised right near their stadium in London. You can hear the roar of the crowd in my house.
JOB: Senior recognition strategist
I often get teased by co-workers that I bleed Globoforce blue, a reference to our iconic logo colors. I once even dressed up for a company costume contest as GloboGirl, a caped crusader who fights the injustice of ingratitude everywhere. But I just can’t help myself — I’m such a big believer in our mission, a more human workplace through the power of thanks. Of course we use our employee recognition platform at our own workplace, and I was in tears myself when I received an e-mail for my seven-year work anniversary. It was a compilation of wonderful, silly, and memorable stories of my past years at the company. Globoforce is all about reaffirming employees: I value you, and you’re important. The real proof of that is when my beloved husband was ill and passed away. My Globofamily — from Dublin to California — rallied to support me. Talk about a global force.
FUN FACT: I joined an improv group this summer, and we work on improvisational exercises. The goal is to make the other person better with every line.
Matthew “Marty” Panos
EMPLOYER: Intercontinental Real Estate Corp.
JOB: Former human resources manager (now part-time accounting clerk)
I retired almost five years ago at age 81 after being comptroller and, later, human resources manager. I had a most wonderful retirement party. But after nine months or so, they begged me to come back; the lady hired to replace me didn’t work out. Now I come in one day a week, doing miscellaneous tasks, like going through old paperwork and shredding unwanted documents. I do enjoy coming into the office, but I keep saying, “If you need this desk, please, just let me know.” I helped start the company over five decades ago, and seeing the growth of this place pleases me so much. I’ve watched entry-level employees, who used to make $8.50 an hour, rise now through the ranks and become big executives. This company is like a family; many employees stay for years. They still ask me to speak at the annual holiday party, and I give a little speech about the company’s history, and everyone always cheers.
FUN FACT: I’ve been to Iran a few times and got to meet the shah of Iran’s sister.
EMPLOYER: TransAction Corporate Shuttles
Even when I was in my country — I’m from Haiti — I loved to drive. I love the freedom and responsibility it gives me. But when I came here, I started working in a fast-food restaurant. I had the idea that someday, as I told my wife, I would like to drive a bus instead. At the time, she was taking a shuttle bus back and forth to work. She spoke with the people and recommended me as a driver. Some jobs would not hire you without the proper license, but this company gave me a chance. They gave me the training so that I could take the test to drive a 33-passenger bus. I studied and passed the exam. That allowed me to start driving a shuttle for a major Boston company, picking up and dropping off employees. I have a long day. Life is not easy, but it’s better. This company help me to realize my dream. I feel like I was born to drive.
FUN FACT: I read books to try to improve my English. The last book I read was The Dropout: How a Lost Kid Found His Dream (Joseph Mathews).
JOB: Technical operations supervisor
I love technology — I have all our Comcast products at home: home security, Internet, entertainment operating systems. As the company continues to enhance their products and services, I’m happy to be a part of that. Any tricks I learn, I pass on to our customers, which is great. I oversee 15 technicians who service about 40,000 customers in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. We go out to the field and trouble-shoot any issues, whether it’s connectivity or device malfunction. I still go out to homes myself and use my expertise on installation and trouble-shooting. We have all the tools we need, whether it’s vehicle, uniform, test equipment, and laptops. I started right out of high school and now have been here for over 15 years. I’ve risen to supervisor after starting in an entry-level position. There’s so much opportunity to grow within the company, and I try to excel in everything I do. I like being a Comcast ambassador.
FUN FACT: I love deep-sea fishing and once won a prize for catching a 30-inch striper.
EMPLOYER: Curriculum Associates
JOB: Director of educator success
My official title is director of educator success; it’s an amorphous role. I gather insights from educators who use our products, then curate and synthesize them to inform our decisions and create support materials that help educators get the most from the products. I spent the last nine years in an inner-city school before I “jumped the fence’’ to an education company. I absolutely miss being in a school — once an educator, always an educator — but it’s really great to be in an organization that “gets it.’’ Being a former user of the product, I know the nuances of what’s going to really connect with teachers. We roll up our sleeves and make decisions here based on what’s going to help students and faculty. This leads us to be super-collaborative and set aside our egos. Good curriculum and good tools make a teacher’s job so much easier. I still have old school textbooks in my office here, and they’re a good reminder of classroom life.
FUN FACT: My go-to dish, passed down from my grandmother, is paella. My version can include clam, calamari, mussels, and scallops, all in one dish.
EMPLOYER: Harmonix Music Systems
JOB: Executive producer
I often get asked, “Do you get to play video games all day?’’ My answer is “I get to play broken video games all day.’’ It’s a lot of fun but also a lot of work; whatever we make has to operate — and also be entertaining and exciting. Right now I’m working on the virtual-reality version of Rock Band, which allows players to experience being on stage with a crowd. I’m a developer who is also a bass player, which helps me understand what we’re trying to re-create: the feeling of being a musician. In fact, so many of us here are passionate about both music and video games. There’s even a practice space with amps and instruments where bands can rehearse. And, of course, a game room with a library full of different video games. I often realize how lucky I am — it’s a lot of responsibility and sometimes a grind, but in the end, I’m helping to make a video game, and that’s just plain cool.
FUN FACT: I’m a longtime car guy and travel around the country to car shows. I have a souped-up Volkswagen R32.
Victor Rodriguez Sr.
JOB: Mortgage consultant
I’m a first-generation homeowner, the first in my family to own a house. So I really understand when folks in Chicopee, Springfield, or Holyoke struggle to buy a home. My father was from Costa Rica and my mom was Puerto Rican, so being able to speak English and Spanish is of huge benefit when dealing with the large Latino population in this area. I think everyone has a right to own their own home, whether it’s a one- or two-family, although there are some foundations that have to be laid — credit, income, work history. I break it down and describe the steps that need to be taken. It’s always satisfying assisting customers, but even more special for first-time home buyers because that’s a life-changing experience. I visit different branch offices at least once a week and really enjoy the camaraderie among the tellers and others. I arrive in the morning and have my second cup of coffee and then I’m ready to face the day.
FUN FACT: I have a baseball card collection that started when I was 9 or 10 years old and now have over 7,000 cards in it, including a few Reggie Jackson cards.
EMPLOYER: NEI General Contracting
JOB: Assistant project manager
As a technical engineer in the Army, I’d go to obscure areas in Afghanistan and help survey, design, and build combat outposts, guard towers, and perimeters. We were in the middle of nowhere, planning where the next base would be. This construction experience is serving me well in my current role, where I’m managing ground-up construction for multimillion-dollar projects. It all whittles down to the details, the nuts and bolts of everything that’s going to happen while at the same time getting the documentation in order. The main thing I learned in the service is leadership and handling teams; some days it feels like herding cats, moving subcontractors around almost like pieces on a chessboard. I’m still in the reserves as a warrant officer, and NEI has been very supportive, even allowing me to take five weeks off to attend candidate school. Juggling my civilian and Army roles is sometimes like a tug of war, but I do the best I can. That’s what I learned overseas: Get it done.
FUN FACT: I’m addicted to board games and have a huge collection nearing the triple digits.