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Top Places to Work

EF Education First: No. 1 on the list of Massachusetts’ largest companies

The Cambridge arm of the multinational education and travel business helps its workers pursue their passions.

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Even with 52,000 employees across 114 countries, education and travel business EF Education First has managed to create a tight-knit community. The Cambridge company’s emphasis on authenticity and autonomy helps.

View from the top: “It really comes down to the people,” says Edward Hult, chief executive for North America. “They love what they do, they’re kind and friendly, and, most importantly, they’re themselves.”

Open environment: EF employees often know the moment they realized they were working somewhere special. Over coffee with a co-worker a few years ago, director of sales Peter Eramo wondered if EF could get involved with Boston’s annual Pride Parade. They decided to make it happen. In 2017, they pulled together a sizable group of marchers; the next year participation doubled, Eramo says. This year, EF’s contingent was among the parade’s largest. And the company has made employee education about gender identity and sexuality an ongoing theme, with seminars, workshops, and celebrations throughout the year. “It has completely flowered,” Eramo says.

Passion project: For the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Emily Harburg, EF’s director of emerging technology and innovation, developed an augmented reality project to immerse students visiting Normandy in the World War II battle that took place there. Using their phones, they could scan photos and scenes in local museums and access interviews, documents, and additional images on their screens. Harburg was blown away by the ways she saw students engaging with history. “It was this amazing melding of worlds, of seeing how powerful this company could be,” she says. “Only at EF would I have this opportunity to create this experience for kids.”

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