top 10 coolest companies to work for in san diego

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San Diego, the second largest city in California, is known for its surf culture, world-class zoo, U.S. Navy presence, and growing health industry. It’s also booming with businesses that create exemplary company culture, not just employee benefits. Businesses that implement core values and beliefs in the workplace making employees more engaged, motivated and happier.

Below are the 10 best and coolest companies to work for in San Diego.

Scripps Health

Scripps Health

Specializing in health systems including five hospitals, 26 outpatient facilities, and 13,700 employees, Scripps Health appreciates their employees. Vic Buzachero, Corporate Senior Vice President for Innovation, HR & Performance Management, and “queen of fun” Helen Neppes, Director of Work-Life Services have created programs to say thanks to employees. Scripps recognition programs include: Excel Together Recognition Program, Values in Leadership, Employee Recognition Month, Annual Service Awards, Success Shares Program, Quality Awards, Nurse and Employees of the Year. From eButtons to Service Awards, Scripps Health hopes to “continually look for new ways to recognize and reward employees.”


Destination Concepts Inc.

Destination Concepts

One of the nation’s premier event design/production and logistics companies, Destination Concepts Inc. works hard to create a unique culture for their employees. Brynne Frost, CEO and owner, along with Ana Reilly, principal and owner believe every employee has the responsibility to help one another. “The culture provides the setting for each person to thrive and most importantly, when you work at DCi you know that each of your co-workers, no matter what position or department, has your back and is quick to lend a hand.” When working in the event business, teamwork is essential for turning a hotel ballroom into a Bollywood spectacular.


American Specialty Health

American Specialty Health

As an independent and privately owned specialty health services company, American Specialty Health knows how to treat its 1,200 employees well.  The company culture focuses on employee health and well-being with Healthyroads Coaching, health education classes, a fitness center, and standing desks. In addition, CEO and chairman George DeVries, hosts an event called “Lunch with George” where employees get face time with the leader over a bite to eat. As for employee recognition, American Specialty Health holds quarterly employee recognition awards ceremonies that recognize their top performers. It’s one of the reasons they have been named among the 100 “Best Places to Work in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare magazine.


Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado

Located across the San Diego Bay, the iconic and historic Hotel del Coronado prides itself with world-class guest service. The hotel is able to provide guests with such great service because of the culture that focuses heavily on employee training. By making their employees comfortable, happy and confident in their positions through a leadership program before being placed on the hotel floor, they in return provide outstanding service to all of the hotel’s guests. In addition, Hotel del Coronado also has quarterly “town hall meetings” where the general manager explains upcoming hotel events, projects, and the overall performance of the hotel. This meeting also involves an open microphone, where employees can ask the general manager questions and concerns—keeping everyone in the loop. Assistant Director of Human Resources, Martha Lopez, is the brains behind the company’s amazing culture. She’s also implemented their Associate of the Month Program, which recognizes employees who go above and beyond in their duties.


YMCA of San Diego County


The YMCA has core concepts that reflect a strong culture. They include: strengthening and enriching family lives, building self-esteem, nurturing personal growth, appreciating the world, developing leadership and strengthening communities, and encouraging healthy lifestyles. It’s not just the staff who live by these core concepts, YMCA volunteers do as well. The company also has two successful employee programs that help enrich the lives of their employees. The Multicultural Development Program coaches employees to become future leaders and the Bridging the Gap Program is a mentoring program for underrepresented part-time employees. President and CEO, Baron Herdelin-Doherty prides himself on hiring people with multicultural backgrounds and giving them the opportunity to reach and achieve their professional goals.


Underground Elephant

Underground Elephant

For CEO Jason Kulpa, emphasizing “culture over profit” is what it’s all about. He believes that promoting good values and having the office feel like family is most important. The enterprise marketing software solutions company offers an inspiring workforce culture—one where employees don’t just show up to work but they excel in their careers. One way Underground Elephant achieves this inspired culture is through weekly training meetings with retired boxer, Paul Vaden. Vaden doesn’t have marketing experience, but he talks to employees about setting goals, achieving them, and becoming a champion. Also, employees participate in quarterly community service events that are held during the workday allowing employees a chance to get out of the office. Continued learning is another aspect of the company culture with quarterly training and employee development programs.


MI Technologies

MI Technologies

As an e-commerce company, MI Technologies focuses on everything from logistics to web analysis. CEO, Amir Tafreshi, takes a hands-on approach, and encourages every employee to become more knowledgeable about their specific industry. To do this, MI Technologies holds brainstorm and problem solving sessions to not only stay ahead of the curve but to encourage learning everyday. In addition, the employees come from all over the world creating a diverse global culture.




MyOffice offers office transition, moving, and installation services, along with voice and data cabling, and office technology set up, with world-class service. The core of the company, Gabrielle Ramsey, office administrator, stresses team unity and togetherness. Weekly meetings incorporate their core values which include: make great results happen, go the extra mile, make it a better place, genuine to myself, team and customers, personal growth and learning, and create enjoyment. Along with unity, MyOffice knows happy employees give the best service and encourages their staff with kudo’s and gift card drawings at the end of each month.

San Diego Sign Company

SD Sign Company

A privately owned company, San Diego Sign Company, specializes in large portable displays. Because customer service is a big part of their business, Craig Van Velzer, President of San Diego Sign Company, has weekly meetings surrounding the topic. He strives to make all business customer oriented and user friendly. In addition, there is at open atmosphere of learning through self-help training or webinars. Employees who work for the sign company say it’s more of a home than a workplace.




As a world-leading provider of wireless technology and services, Qualcomm strives to “continue to deliver the world’s most innovative wireless solutions.” In order to do that, they’ve created a dynamic place to work made up of engineers, scientists, business professionals and technology visionaries… all passionate about pushing the boundaries of mobile technology. With a robust variety of programs for employee development and growth, a celebrated culture of diversity and innovation, and a heritage of giving back to their communities, employees have a strong commitment to their company and its mission. Growing from a seven person team in 1985 into a major corporation today, Qualcomm is focused on creating mobile solutions that will positively transform the way people live and work.


As you can see, company culture, community service, employee engagement and recognition can be shown in many different ways. Created in 2013, the Coolest Companies to Work for award establishes public recognition of companies that provide exceptional work environments.

Learn more about performance recognition.

By o.c. tanner
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Comments (21)
Krystina Jimenez

Thank you O.C. Tanner for publishing your article about MyOffice. It was a pleasure speaking with your group of professionals.

July 25, 2014   |   Reply
O.C. Tanner

The award is well deserved. MyOffice produces great work!

July 25, 2014   |   Reply

I personally know most of the employees at my office, and I don’t know one happy employee. I wonder who they paid to get on this list.

July 25, 2014   |   Reply

The Y’s culture diversity programs are the perfect example of reverse racism – these programs are not available to white employees and give people who are considered “diverse” leadership training that isn’t available to other employees. I am really surprised they made it on this list – many Y employees are far from happy these days.

July 29, 2014   |   Reply

The Y being on this list is a joke. Moral is at an all time low and Baron, the CEO seems to be out of touch. The language they use when communicating their mission is inspirational, but they hardly manage their staff using those values. The problem starts with how top heavy the organization is.

July 29, 2014   |   Reply

The YMCA has a proud heritage of cultural diversity; our old motto was ‘It’s for Everybody’. The current CEO has hand picked his board and now mandates all policy changes without oversight. Now he can even mandate happiness and coolness by getting on this list.

July 29, 2014   |   Reply

so well said!!

August 1, 2014   |   Reply

I’m so pleased to see some folks are willing to tell the truth about the Y. It used to be a strong and respected organization. It is now run by egos that don’t allow staff to have their own opinions….if you have a different perspective than the pathetic CEO, you will be gone. He’s so threatened by previous leaders that he fired or resigned anyone associated who was successful; the folks he hired have been less successful but he can’t move them on or it makes him look bad (besides he can control them). The worst thing is the corporate board is either so fooled or so weak they won’t replace him-guessing his contract will be renewed in Oct. I feel for the families who can’t count on the Y like they used to.

August 16, 2014   |   Reply
heidi jacobs

Comments about the Y are all true. Was a great place to work until the new CEO took over. Now fear is the main motivator. Do what you are told or lose your job and career. So sad. Seems like no one can stop him. Such an amazing organization going down hill fast.

August 20, 2014   |   Reply
James P

The YMCA of San Diego County is a great organization with amazing front line staff. What is not cool is the CEO, Baron Herdelin-Doherty, he is inexperienced, narcissistic, makes promises he never intends to keep, is disingenuous, he tries to please everyone and fails miserably, is inconsistent and lacks any real leadership ability. The board is blind to who he really is and failed by selecting a CEO that is underprepared to lead.

August 21, 2014   |   Reply
Tina S

Surprised to see the Y on this list. There is no work life balance, staff work in fear of losing their jobs and the CEO is a clown. The Y does much good in the community, but leadership is at an all-time low.

August 22, 2014   |   Reply

Glad YMCA staff are coming forward, sad that it has to be via a website like this. Staff moral is very low and the process for bringing concerns to our leaders is not trusted. Whistle blowers become witch hunts. 4 years ago the Y was a cool place to work, but not anymore.

August 23, 2014   |   Reply

The Y is an awesome place to work and I’m stoked we are on the list! Well deserved.

September 22, 2014   |   Reply

I find it hilarious when I see Underground Elephant on this list. There is a Facebook group about all the horrible things the CEO says to his staff yet they still keep popping up. Eventually the truth will surface…

March 9, 2015   |   Reply
Jacel Raulli

Hi! How do I nominate my company for this list of top 10 coolest companies to work for in san diego?

Thank you!

May 6, 2015   |   Reply
O.C. Tanner

Hi Jacel – We’d love to hear about your company! Click here to tell us what makes it a cool place to work.

May 6, 2015   |   Reply

It’s spelled MORALE, everybody. Come on.

August 14, 2015   |   Reply

Do your diligence prior to hiring this company! :-/

November 12, 2015   |   Reply
Lulu Lemon Freak

It is no surprise that Hersha Hospitality Management is not on this list anywhere. They would easily make the worst companies in San Diego to work for. Please investigate their constant turnover in the sales office prior to even allowing them to be considered to make this list for 2016. Please, do your due diligence and investigate as to whether or not the EMPLOYEES, specifically in the sales office, are even slightly happy. Also, check out their abysmal GlassDoor reviews which should speak loudly as to what a horrible company they are to work for and be a part of.

December 17, 2015   |   Reply

GoFundMe should be added to this list!

February 15, 2016   |   Reply

what company?!

February 16, 2016   |   Reply
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