Linda Matzigkeit, chief administrative officer of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, wakes up every day at 4:30 a.m. to swim, bike, or run. The accomplished triathlete (she’s completed about 50, including an Ironman) considers it a non-negotiable appointment with herself. “If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be there for your kids, your job,” she says. She lists her priorities in this order: herself, family, work.
It might sound like lip service—does an executive at one of the country’s largest pediatric healthcare systems really prioritize her job third?—but Matzigkeit, 52, says she’s not shy about leaving early to watch her son, a high school senior, play baseball. Emphasis on work-life balance is part of the reason Children’s has earned a spot on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 14 years straight. Of its 11,500 employees, 83 percent are women and 65 percent are mothers. “When you’re about kids, you’re more caring,” says Matzigkeit. “Don’t get me wrong, we run ourselves as tightly as any Fortune 500 company, but there’s a softness.”
Matzigkeit added to this supportive culture by creating MomForce, a 12-week program offering job training and, often, employment to parents re-entering the workforce after three or more years of an absence. It’s not her first innovative idea. In 2012, she launched a buzzy ad campaign surrounding childhood obesity. Called Strong4Life, it’s grown into a broad outreach program encompassing a website, pediatric training, school activities, and a summer camp. Recently, Matzigkeit led the design of two forthcoming buildings for support staff, slated for the company’s new North Druid Hills campus. “I’ve sat on every chair. I’ve picked out every fabric,” she says. “It has been really fun, just always thinking how can we make this the greatest place to work.”