Best Places to Work: A Two Way Street

Contributed by Director of Strategic Planning & Development, Kathy Olek Donatelli

Co-workers have told me I know lots of people here in the ‘Burgh.

This is usually followed by some acknowledgement that I am pretty traditional.

Check that, they tell me I am old school.

OK, truth be told, I’m just old.

During my 30+ year career in marketing here in Pittsburgh, (yikes!) I have worked at large Fortune 500 companies with a marketing budget of hundreds of thousands.  I have worked out of my house with two young knee-biters playing at my feet.  I have worked for start up businesses, and for companies that are national, regional and locally based.  I have worked downtown as well as in the north, south, east and west sides of the city.  I have worked for great leaders with poor teams and poor leaders with great teams.  I also worked for nothing but a daily hug as a homemaker and a mom.

What makes a great place to work?  To me, work is just like home…it’s where your heart is!  You know the old saying, do what you love and you’ll always love what you do?  Sure, that’s part of it.  But in order to better understand the potential satisfaction associated with any given job, you first have to take salary, benefits and retirement plans out of the equation in order to more closely evaluate your position and how you truly feel about where you work…or where you are about to work.  Because let’s face it, money and medical coverage is extremely important from family perspective. But as I have learned through my years and years…and years of experience…money ain’t everything.


When evaluating if your company, or a potential new company, is an ideal match for you and your personality, here are some base line questions you need to ask yourself.

  • Will you like the people you work with? Trust them, admire them?
  • Will your work environment help you grow in your career?
  • Can you make a viable contribution to the success of the company?
  • Will you fit in with the culture of the company?
  • Will you be challenged? Will you learn new things?
  • Does the company have vision?
  • Would you recommend your company to a close friend?
  • Will they give you 100% support in your role?

Don’t be blinded by the fancy stuff….a gym membership, chair massages, an in-house cafeteria and taking your dog to work may help sweeten the pot, but these perks are really just poor substitutes.  Take it from someone who has been around the block as far as jobs go, it’s the human element that make the most difference:  Recognition for a job well done, a feeling of accomplishment, unity, working through problem/solution scenarios, comradery, teamwork and belonging are also important factors in evaluating any work environment.

And oh, by the way, while we are busy evaluating what makes a good place to work, REMEMBER — your employer is also evaluating what makes a good employee.  And they also have their own list of wanna-haves that they most likely consult during the interview process.  And not surprisingly, this list seems strangely familiar:

  • Will I like this person? Trust them, admire them?
  • Are they willing to make a commitment to self-growth in their career?
  • Will they help me and my company succeed?
  • Will they help mold and contribute to the culture of the company?
  • Do they want to be challenged and learn new things?
  • Do they have vision?
  • Would you recommend this employee for another job with close friend?
  • Will they give 100% to the company?

From where I sit, a “good place to work” is a TWO WAY STREET.  To me, it depends equally as much on the employer as it does the employee in the amount of contribution and sacrifice they are both willing to make to be successful as a cohesive team.

At this writing, my company for the last ten years, 4CTechnologies, is in the running for Best Places to Work Award from the Pittsburgh Business Times in the small business category.  We won’t find out if we have won until the end of October.


I am pulling for a win and as we wait for the verdict, I want to publically acknowledge that I love my job…mostly because of all of the wonderful people I get to see and work with every day.  They make the hours fly by and their support and knowledge have made me a better professional.  (Oh, and that mustached guy in the corner office is OK too!)  No question, it feels like home and I certainly hope that a win for 4CTechnologies is in the “cards.”  Fingers crossed!

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