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Autodesk Reviews

3.8
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Autodesk President, CEO, and Director Carl Bass
Carl Bass
346 Ratings
  • Helpful (13)

    Realpolitik

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Director in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Director in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Autodesk full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Autodesk is a rich company that benefits from a legacy of market dominance, monopoly power, and accordingly luxurious margins. Even as the company has been forced into increasingly competitive markets, their cash and channel have enabled them to thrive as an acquisition machine.

    There is a lot of chaotic, frenetic activity that occasionally results in bona fide internal innovation within the product engineering teams. If you are young and just starting your career in software engineering or related disciplines such as product management, product marketing, etc., then Autodesk is a wonderful training ground. And, you'll be handsomely paid while learning.

    Autodesk often ranks near the top of, "Best Place to Work" type of surveys. This is mainly because it suffers from what Marissa found at Yahoo: a culture of exploiting "work life balance" to the extreme. If you don't mind a work environment where people regularly work 5 hour days and "work from home" whenever they feel like it, then this is the place for you. You can also always find a seat in the supposedly overcrowded 1-Market (SF) location, which is some of the most beautiful corporate real estate you'll ever experience.

    Finally, if you're pursuing a future as a manager/leader, then Autodesk will give you an intense training in the toughest variant of politics: the politics of passive-aggressive consensus. While most quality leaders tend to avoid or flee this sort of environment, clearly some folks thrive within it. If you can rationalize this within your own value system, then climbing the management ladder in Autodesk will teach you how to equivocate like a pro.

    Cons

    Autodesk's overall culture can best be described as passive-aggressive, conflict-averse, and consensus-driven. Read through the reviews you'll find here or elsewhere and you'll see this theme over and over again. Talk to someone at a senior manager level or higher, and they'll confirm it (unless they're someone who loves that sort of thing; they're usually blind to it). Everywhere has politics, of course. But Autodesk's culture significantly amplifies the internal politics to many times greater than they should be for a company of this size. Example: making a decision which might take 3-5 meetings over the period of 2-3 weeks in even a much larger, more complex company can easily take (no kidding) 15-20 meeting over a period of 6+ months. And even then, the decision or agreement is at least 50% likely to be reneged upon by some passive-aggressive manager who had no intention of cooperating, resulting in a reset of the entire decision process.

    The politics are most intense within the corporate GnA functions, most notoriously corporate finance and IT. Deep in the recesses of the back of the back office, the politics amongst the heavily bloated middle management and their executives truly defines realpolitik. Coercion, threats, dishonesty, doublespeak, intimidation and deception wrapped in euphemisms and culture programs are the norm.

    The bottom line is there are a ton of massively overpaid directors who enjoy working 20-25 hour work weeks, living in Marin, and never having to miss one of their kids' midday sports. They've managed to carve out their little feudal fiefdoms, and if you find yourself in any sort of situation which requires their cooperation--or worse their agreement to change anything--then prepare to defend yourself from an onslaught of smarmy politics. While I could provide examples, I'm pretty sure they would come off as exaggerations or hyperbole. All I can say is, Autodesk is a place where the unimaginable happens every day: especially within the realm of politics.

    Lastly, Autodesk is a place people intentionally try to go to to retire. It is a lifestyle company. Many people don't go there to work hard, they go there for generous benefits, flexible work schedules and generally not to have to think too much. The company has an abnormally high tenure. There are lots of 15-20, even 25+ year lifers who enjoy "untouchable" status which they happily exploit. If you're a manager, you'll end up with at least a few of these folks on your team. All I can say is, good luck. Many of these folks literally have zero experience anywhere else but Autodesk, and they will not even recognize skills, experience or ideas you may have brought in from elsewhere as valid, let alone sometimes better.

    This matters because Autodesk has an incredibly effective "tissue rejection" culture. You can be there for years, be very successful, and still end up crossing paths with an untouchable lifer and find yourself on the fast track out.

    Advice to Management

    Autodesk would make a great HBR case study in middle-management gone awry. This company could quite literally operate the same, or likely much better, were you to eliminate half of middle management. Even more in the above mentioned bowels of the back office.

    Listen to the avalanche of feedback you've received over the years on how ridiculous the politics have become at Autodesk.

    C-Staff have lost touch. I directly experienced, multiple times, when the SVPs would quite clearly describe a strategy, set goals, and even make specific decisions only to walk out of the room and see their VPs and Directors "reinterpret" the prior conversation so as to completely invert it. While C-Staff are very approachable, they don't tend to listen when the feedback about their own leaders' behaviors are uncomfortable or negative.

    A good place to start your investigation would be finance and IT. Start at the top, and figure out what everyone is really doing, what kind of programs are they spending all their time on, how do those things even remotely relate to the company's goals and strategy. If you're willing to look beyond the narratives, euphemistic storytelling, and Orwellian level of realpolitik, I think you'll be very surprised.


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