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A rare combination - A perspective by Carol Coletta


Carol Coletta

What makes St. Jude a great place to work? The mission.


by Carol Coletta


Several years ago, as part of a research project, I needed to talk to some talented, highly educated people in Memphis to obtain their observations and to learn about their attitudes toward the city. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital allowed me to meet with a group of postdoctoral fellows. What a phenomenally impressive group of people from around the world!

During that meeting, I was reminded of what a wonderful asset St. Jude is to Memphis. Of course, the patient care at St. Jude is tremendous. But researchers at St. Jude are making extremely important contributions not only to Memphis, but to the world. I’m constantly reminded of what a big footprint St. Jude has in the minds of Americans as well as to people abroad. The hospital does great work that is acknowledged by so many. That makes me really proud as a Memphian.

If you look at FORTUNE magazine’s recent list of the nation’s 100 best companies to work for, you’ll find St. Jude listed (see related story ). There are not many nonprofits on that list, so I think it’s particularly exemplary that St. Jude is recognized.

St. Jude doesn’t offer the perks evident at most of the corporations on that list. But the hospital has something even more important: a powerful mission. Many of the for-profit companies try to overlay a strong mission on top of a profit goal. Thousands of people in this country go to work every day and think, “Why am I here? What is the real meaning of this? What’s the real meaning of my life if most of it is spent in this particular workplace?”

No one has to wonder that at St. Jude.

A strong sense of mission is reflected in the way St. Jude employees perform and the way they relate to their jobs. St. Jude staff members know exactly why they come to work every day.

The work that St. Jude employees do is amazing. One of the special benefits of donating to the hospital is the knowledge that not only are you helping individual patients and supporting their care, but you’re also leveraging that by supporting research that could help hundreds of thousands of other children.

So it seems to me that St. Jude offers the best of all worlds. It’s not just the cerebral “Here’s the research that we’re investing in,” or it’s not just, “Here’s patient care” but it’s a rare combination of both. To me, that’s enormously exciting.


Carol Coletta is president and CEO of CEOs for Cities, a civic lab of today’s urban leaders catalyzing a movement to advance the next generation of great American cities. She has spent a decade hosting and producing the nationally syndicated public radio show Smart City. Named one of the world’s 50 most important urban experts by a leading European think tank, Coletta is also a recipient of Lambda Alpha International’s International Journalism Award for her work with CEOs for Cities and Smart City Radio.

Promise Spring 2011

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