Working at AvalonBay isn't easy. It serves luxury renters with high standards. It builds award-winning high-rise properties in markets where land is tight. It takes on development deals that would be too difficult for many apartment firms.

And everyone expects the company to just keep getting better at all those things.

“We focus on continuous improvement,” says Charlene Rothkopf, AvalonBay's executive vice president of human resources. “We're never satisfied. There's always a way of making things better and getting the performance. We don't rest on our laurels too much.”

That corporate philosophy keeps employees busy, but not with busy-work. “I have never been bored with this company,” says Mona Stahling, the company's vice president of operations, who has been there for 22 years. “There are always continuous challenges as long as you provide your own initiative to go and find those.”

TOP GUYS: CFO Tom Sargeant, Chairman Bryce Blair, and President Tim Naughton of AvalonBay Communities Rothkopf says the company receives high marks from its employees on company culture as well as the strength and trustworthiness of management. AvalonBay employees also can feel secure that they're working with some of the best in the business.

“It's a performance-driven culture,” Rothkopf says. “It's a meritocracy. You need to perform. We think we hire a high caliber of person. We demand a lot, we expect a lot, and we reward them well.”

Pay can rise with corporate performance. “We pay bonuses based on how we perform based on how we perform against corporate goals, based on how a business unit performs, and how an individual performs,” Rothkopf says. “If the company does well, the business unit does well, and you individually do well, you get paid more.”


  • Headquarters: Alexandria, Va.
  • Employees: 1,700
  • Turnover Rate: 35%