Top Places to Work

Top Places to Work

EF Education First named No. 1 on list of largest Mass. companies

The education travel giant encourages employees to explore new territory, both geographical and professional.

Cambridge, MA - 10/18/2017 - TPTW On the creative floor, Lori Zartarian (cq) works at left. At right is a debriefing meeting on an interview candidate. EF Education is the largest winning company. (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff) Topic: 111917largest-EF Education Reporter: Sarah Shemkus
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
A meeting room and desk space on the creative floor at EF Education First’s Cambridge offices.

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EF was founded in Sweden in 1965 to promote the power of travel for language learning. In the decades since, the company has expanded to 46,000 employees in 116 countries, including the United States, where its North American headquarters are in Cambridge. But through all the years, EF’s mission  —  combining the powers of education and travel  —  has remained constant, attracting a likeminded workforce dedicated to exploring new territory, both geographical and professional.

THOUGHTS FROM THE TOP: “The people here bring out the best version of yourself. You want to do better work so you can equal them.” — Martha Doyle, chief operating officer for EF Properties

MAGIC MOMENT: Last year, tour consultant Maggie Lenahan traveled to Milan, chaperoning 21 students who won scholarships to attend EF’s annual Global Student Leaders Summit. Watching the group explore Italy, learn with other students, and make deep friendships gave Lenahan a sense of how transformative her job could be. “I continually got emotional on the trip,” she said. “I still get goosebumps [thinking] of it.”


OFFICE SPACE: There’s no such thing as a private office at EF. Everyone from interns to top executives sits at desks out in the open, a layout intended to encourage input and teamwork from employees at all levels. The company has also broken ground on a new building that will include more office space designed on the same principles, as well as fitness and gathering facilities that will be open to the public.

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COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS: Each year, EF challenges students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School to develop and present creative solutions to local problems. This year’s topic is transportation. The student teams are matched with mentors from EF or from local institutions like MIT and Harvard, and the winning group is sent to the company’s student leadership summit, held in various global locales.

DISTINGUISHING FEATURE: Entrepreneurial attitudes. “If you have a good idea and a plan and are passionate, there’s a good chance you can make it a reality,” says Jeremy Bomba, director of customer service for EF’s Educational Tours division.

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