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- Comp & Benefits
- Work/Life Balance
- Senior Management
- Culture & Values
- Career Opportunities
I have been working at Guidewire full-time (more than 3 years)Pros
The pay is good, and if you enjoy traveling, this may be the place for you. In particular, there are a lot of international projects, so if you're up for it, you may well get the opportunity to see the world while implementing software.
The consulting team is quite a social bunch in general - expect to get invites from coworkers for dinner and drinks on a regular basis. The work itself is quite social as well - field consulting is far more than heads-down development, although it includes plenty of that as well.
Guidewire provides 3 weeks of paid vacation per year, and offers stock as an additional incentive. The medical plans are pretty standard, with PPO and HSA/FSA options.
Taxes and stock are equalized, meaning that if you work in a place (including abroad) where taxes are higher than at home, then you won't be penalized for doing so. This is an excellent benefit and one that should not be understated. If you work abroad, you'll get the additional benefit of having your foreign tax returns prepared on your behalf, free of charge.
You can live just about anywhere in the country, provided it's close to a major airport, although most clients are in the Eastern and Central time zones, so those living further west may face longer commutes. Salaries are competitive and standardized across the country, so if you live in a cheaper area, you can reap the benefits of a Bay Area salary without paying Bay Area prices.
All consultants go through 4 weeks of training and certification, including an exam and exercises, which sets a good foundation before beginning billable work with clients. (Though, to be honest, it just scratches the surface of what's to come.)
There is also (for now, at least) a yearly meeting in which the entire field consulting team has the opportunity to convene, share ideas, learn about upcoming releases and new product features, and catch up with people they've worked and trained with.Cons
I posted a 4-star review of Guidewire about a year and a half ago, after 18 months with the company. Now, nearly 3 years in, I'm downgrading my review to 3 stars. Why? In part, because the workload is relentless, and the burnout has become acute. It simply never lets up, and I'm coming to believe that more projects than not are hectic and draining. There's simply no moderation in this work. The estimates and timelines provided to clients are often too aggressive (though this may be done in an effort to remain competitive), but it means there's typically far more work to finish than there is time to do it in, at least if you expect to work anywhere near a 40-hour week. And maybe you don't expect that, since unpaid overtime has become standard practice, but it was one of Guidewire's major selling points when I was interviewing back in 2012 - that they placed a strong focus on a moderate schedule, especially since consultants have to spend additional time traveling to and from client sites. I was even told back then that they negotiate 37-hour workweeks with some clients, but I've yet to see anything like this. It varies week to week, but it's typically 50+ hours/week plus travel time, and the more senior the consultant, the longer the hours seem to be.
In fact, I've found that as I move forward in my career here, life seems to be getting worse, not better. The pay raises have been modest, but the responsibilities and expectations have grown far faster. I no longer look forward to promotions, as they simply represent more hardship and more time in the office.
Marcus, the CEO, has often compared Guidewire's path as akin to "chiseling through granite," and I think this conveys the day-to-day experience quite well. A lot of positive things have been said about the company culture, but by and large, the job is one perpetual, interminable grind. At the end of a long and difficult project, you might breathe a sigh of relief... only to find that you're starting the whole process over again next week with a new client. Yes, you'll learn and grow from each project, but mostly it's more of the same.
And what makes it largely the same is that there isn't much structured training (beyond the initial 4 weeks), or communication happening across projects or between teams to ensure that solutions aren't reinvented. There's a great deal of reverse engineering going on, due to inadequate documentation of the existing system features (though in fairness the documentation is quite thorough compared to some companies), and there's also a lot of unnecessary duplication of effort and code because time is not set aside for consultants to document their solutions after they've been built. There is some effort being made to build structured, shareable solutions to common problems, but it could be far more proactive than it is. There's also the somewhat baffling practice of hiding platform-level code from the very consultants who are expected to build upon the system. This is done ostensibly to protect the company's intellectual property, but it leads to a great deal of confusion for consultants and frustration on the part of clients, who often expect Guidewire staff to understand every nook and cranny of their own system. It seems to me that a lot more could be done to streamline the implementation process, if only management would make it a priority to allocate the time to do so. There are a lot of inefficiencies that are being overlooked.
Overall, I'm not nearly as positive as I was about Guidewire when I started. When I first joined, this felt like the sort of place where I might make a lifelong career. But at this point, it seems largely like any other software job, albeit with some cool perks. I can't see myself staying here forever, but for the moment it'll do.Advice to ManagementAdvice
Focus on training and more elaborate documentation to enable your consultants to perform more effectively in the field. The initial 4 weeks of training are good but hardly adequate in the long run. Make a stronger effort to elicit feedback from consultants, and put more effort into building standardized solutions to common requirements that can be released as part of the core product.Doesn't RecommendNeutral OutlookDisapproves of CEO