Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge: The aha moment


    Good management, generous bonuses and incentives, flexibility and other company perks may go a long way toward attracting new employees, but what really defines a “best place to work” over time are the intangibles. Capital Region employees surveyed by Best Companies Group say its the feeling of being valued in an organization and having confidence in its leadership that, more than anything, drive their engagement. How exactly do you define that? We asked employees from the top five companies in each category to share their personal stories of moments when they came to truly appreciate the company for which they work.


    Michael O'FarrellNO. 1: YP MARKETING SOLUTIONS
    Michael O’Farrell
    Key account representative
    Years with the company: 5

    As a key account manager at YP, I work with some of our biggest and best customers in Central/North Louisiana. We have amazing incentives, and I have been honored to receive the Winner’s Circle Distinction twice—a recognition bestowed upon the top sales performers in our company—which gave me the opportunity to travel to first-class resorts in the Bahamas and Miami, as well as mingle with the most senior leaders at YP. In addition, we have a fun work environment infused with flash parties and contests for cool prizes. I’ve won everything from gift cards to a limo night to an Apple watch. Most importantly, I am given the flexibility to be creative in solving the marketing challenges that customers face in today’s complex digital landscape.


    Katie Cicardo
    Associate attorney
    Years with firm: 1

    At a recent firm event, an attorney told my fiancé and a group of clients that I was an important and valued member of his team. The attorney also complemented the quality of my work, and he thanked my fiancé for sharing me with the firm. This is just one example of what makes Baker Donelson unique and a great place to work—it is a place where employees are made to feel respected and appreciated, both for their work product and for who they are as individuals.


    Jamie VincentNO. 3: GEOENGINEERS
    Jamie Vincent
    Civil engineer
    Years with the company: 8

    I was born and raised in Baton Rouge and have always appreciated the opportunity to work on local projects that impact the community and city landscape. The chance to be involved in providing geotechnical services for visible landmarks across the city, like the Mall of Louisiana, LSU’s new Alex Box Stadium, L’Auberge Casino, Louisiana DOTD’s Interstate 12 widening project and LSU/CPRA’s upcoming Water Campus Facility, is very satisfying. I always enjoy pointing these landmarks out to friends and family and explaining what was involved to make the project a success. Another rewarding aspect of GeoEngineers is all employees are eligible to become shareholders within the firm after the completion of their first years of service. During my time at GeoEngineers, I’ve always been treated as an equal, valued team member despite rank or title.


    Audrey SchmolkeNO. 4: RED RIVER BANK
    Audrey Schmolke
    Treasury management officer
    Years with the company: 3

    Red River Bank encouraged me to pursue getting my Certified Treasury Professional certification.  When I initially started looking into taking the exam, the amount of material covered on the test was intimidating. My co-workers and Red River Bank were very supportive as I spent several months going over and studying the material for the test. It kept me motivated to have such a great group of people cheering me on. After several weekends and nights of studying I took and passed the Certified Treasury Professional exam. I attribute this success to Red River Bank. Had it not been for their belief in me, I do not know if I would have pursued this certification. They truly believe in their employees and want to see each of us succeed in our own personal goals we set for ourselves.


    Laurie HancockNO. 5: WOMAN’S HOSPITAL
    Laurie Ann Hancock
    Mother/Baby registered nurse
    Years with the company: 11+

    Woman’s Hospital is a remarkable place to work and an extraordinary place to receive care. In 2013, I discovered a lump in my left breast. Following a biopsy, I underwent mammograms and ultrasounds every six months. Then the unthinkable happened. In March 2015, during a checkup, the lump had changed characteristics and doubled in size. I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and underwent a unilateral simple mastectomy. My coworkers were a huge support system for me and my family. I am usually a caregiver at Woman’s, but when I became the patient I experienced firsthand the amazing support we provide. Every registration clerk, office personnel, technician, doctor and nurse comforted me with exceptional care, compassion, respect and professionalism.



    Barbara LasseigneNO. 1: ENVOC
    Barbara Lasseigne
    Product Manager
    Years with the company: 3.5 years

    Envoc is more fun than it is work any day, but this recent day sums it up well. I dropped the kiddos at school, picked up CC’s and headed to Lamar Advertising for a project meeting. Lamar has a fun team, and together we are creating some amazing things. This morning our developers wowed us with their work, as usual, making my job easy. I grabbed lunch and headed to the office to work on requirements for Envoc’s new mobile inspection app, Spotter. We’re adding some new executive dashboards and cutting edge GPS location and iBeacon technology (cool stuff in the software world). At 3 p.m. I left to pick up the kids at carpool. Later that night at the Envoc Office Reveal Party my entire Spotter team and I, cocktails in hand, invaded the photo booth. Once again, I realized that Envoc is the best place to work ever.


    Sean Cortez
    Years with the company: 20

    Over the years there have been several instances of personal appreciation that I have for Sigma Consulting Group. These instances include allowing time for personal growth and further education, compassion that allowed me to be with my family during life’s unfortunate events and the willingness to change. Understanding the role and impact that leadership has to the success of a company and therefore the personal well-being of its employees often gets overlooked. For me, this realization became evident when speaking with other professionals in different organizations about how their companies make decisions, define objectives and communicate with staff. When exposed to other institutions’ deficiencies and problems that affect productivity and daily morale, I had an appreciation of the company that I work for. The role that leadership has on the workplace environment directly influences the quality of life of an employee in and out of the work place.


    Best Places to work 2015


    Kevin Calhoun

    Regional Director of Air Quality

    Years with the company: 10

    Providence is family. We come to work every day to not only take care of our clients, but to also take care of each other. About a year after I started at Providence, my son was diagnosed with a rare disease. My Providence family rose up around me and helped me in more ways than I could have ever expected. My co-workers brought me food, donated their vacation hours so I could take care of him, and most importantly, provided more moral support than I ever imagined. I see examples of the family culture engrained at Providence every day—from helping those in need, to celebrating birthdays and holidays, and spending time together outside of work. Some people have jobs, but at Providence we are fortunate to be surrounded by people we love working together to provide for our clients, each other and our community.


    Jamie Edwards TaylorNO. 4: Assurance Financial

    Jamie Taylor

    Senior Loan Officer

    Years with the company: 8

    My husband and I are expecting our first child in January. It wasn’t an easy fertility journey, and an intense surgical procedure was required to conceive. I was given as much time as I needed to recover without any pressure to return to work. Along with the joy of having your first child comes a lot of anxiety about adjusting to your new responsibilities and the work-life balance. I will be able to work from home for as long as I need to while we all adjust and I make the transition to a working mom. The flexibility and support I receive working at Assurance Financial helps to ease our concerns.


    Kim PowellNO. 5: IEM

    Kim Powell

    Proposal Writer/Coordinator

    Years with the company: 20

    I appreciate working at IEM every time I wear my favorite T-shirt and shorts to work, or can just leave to keep a midday doctor’s appointment. Casual dress and flextime really do increase productivity. But what I appreciate most is how the people in the Baton Rouge office support each other like a family. Co-workers have driven me home when I was sick, repaired my siding, fed me, loaned me money (repaid!) and helped me move. My peers, managers and even the company president have stayed up late and pitched in to help me meet a tough deadline. When a longtime colleague was diagnosed with cancer, IEM employees rallied to provide him and his family with food, yard work and companionship. IEMers are smart, talented and dedicated to IEM’s mission, but their kindness is really what makes the Baton Rouge office a great place to work.