Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  www.gatesfoundation.org
  www.gatesfoundation.org
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated September 12, 2014
Updated September 12, 2014
109 Reviews
3.2
109 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Susan Desmond-Hellmann
2 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Great benefits and retirement package (in 14 reviews)

  • New campus is beautiful and gives an appearance of transparency (in 7 reviews)


Cons
  • The amazing work-life balance others report is solely dependent upon the team you land in and the manager you have (in 10 reviews)

  • It's a very flat organization with very little to no room for professional growth (in 5 reviews)

More Highlights

29 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Rewarding in some ways, but tough environment with few growth opportunities

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Great mission, great place to learn about a wide variety of topics, brilliant and fun colleagues. Get to be creative in what we fund although this is getting harder as the foundation becomes more bureaucratic. New CEO is fantastic, hope she rubs off on the rest of the foundation quickly. Very flexible in where we do our work (easy to work from remotely). Great benefits.

    Cons

    Manager capabilities are very mixed. Too much time spent working and rehashing strategies. Growth opportunities and promotions are very political. Ethically questionable and unsupportive HR department. Lack of transparency and consistency around why people are hired into which positions and promoted into others; it all seems very arbitrary. Culture and values are more rhetoric than actual.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 5 people found this helpful  

    Contract Program Assistant (1 year)- Don't do it!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Program Assistant  in  Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Program Assistant in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a contractor for more than a year

    Pros

    The name itself helped job interviews and instant credibility afterwards. My boss still introduces me as coming from the Gates Foundation. There was a lot of opportunity to meet and interact with diverse people with many skills.

    Cons

    As a contract employee, this place sucks. As a program assistant on the bottom of the totem pole working with megalomaniacs, this place sucks. The program officers are all the "experts of the world" and view themselves as such. They are used to being catered on hand and foot and have a god complex. While the slogan is that all people have equal value and should be healthy and live productive lives, that philosophy doesn't apply to the contract employees. No health insurance, no sick time, no sympathy. You get the worst tasks, the blame, and are restricted from going to any events with speakers or anything else that is only for the cool kids, ie the Full time employees. Never mind that you do the exact same job as the full time employees and that your position is permanent in the sense that they will always need a program assistant. There is absolutely no upward mobility, and very high turnover for that reason. The best day here was the day I left.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Use contract employees only for temporary needs, and pay them more than full time for all the crap they put up with.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  3. 7 people found this helpful  

    Inconsistent and work against each other

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    Benefits are great. The Campus is beautiful.

    Cons

    No one seems to care where the buck stops. It is very silo'd and decisions are made in teams or departments and likely are duplicated elsewhere leading to overly complicated processes and waste.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Accountability is key. People should not re-create operations positions in the programs.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 9 people found this helpful  

    Invaluable experience at a failed organization, especially early in career

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Program Officer
    Current Employee - Program Officer

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    - Great mission; big audacious goals
    - Incredible campus right near downtown
    - Many informal opportunities for learning, such as lunch and learn (esp. across silos)
    - Very good cafeteria
    - Great benefits and retirement package
    - Robust culture that keeps you on your toes
    - Many lessons learned about working with difficult people in a very politically complex environment (see cons)

    Cons

    I've received invaluable experience; learning how to not manage an organization. If management education programs are about giving you the tools to successfully manage an organization, the foundation abounds with lessons from the other side of the coin.

    Valuable learning in:

    - Sustaining a culture of distrust and animosity both between teams and between layers in the chain of command
    - Spending billions on foreign investments with little to no accountability
    - Selecting inappropriate technology solutions and rolling them out improperly
    - Engaging external consultants at a very high price while not setting value expectations
    - The risks of putting HR in charge of managing an organization's people with no checks and balances

    The foundation is a total shipwreck, but shipwrecks are valuable warnings to others so they may navigate a safer course.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Not too much here.

    I write that because leadership frequently solicits unvarnished feedback on the work and our environment, receives it, then promptly discards it.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 5 people found this helpful  

    Toxic, hypocritical organization

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Analyst  in  Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Analyst in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    good salary, some good friends, interesting projects, helping people globally - not much else I can say. Oh yes, nice campus, but the "security" people are absolutely suffocating and arrogant.

    Cons

    horrid management, game playing, toxic/incompetent management, WAY too many contractors that create undue pressure and a revolving door, competitive environment where people stab each other in the back and get away with it, the worst HR team on the planet. SO glad I'm gone from this place. The only thing that kept me there was the money/benefits, but I just nailed a role with someone else making more. Nice... Can't wait to recruit the good people way from this toxic organization.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    fire yourselves! You contribute nothing and you only take. You're spoiled brats and wouldn't amount anything if you couldn't use the "Gates" name. You're clueless as to how to manage people and career growth. Your talk absolutely does NOT match your walk in any way, shape or form.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 5 people found this helpful  

    In a word, disappointing.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Grants Management  in  Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Grants Management in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Great mission, benefits, and name to add to your resume.

    Cons

    Contrary to the mission the Foundation doesn’t value people, employee retention, or people management skills in their work force. The craze of competition and murky political waters penetrates even the simplest of tasks and is exhausting even for the most game. The entire foundation lacks heart, caring, and compassion. Intelligence without passion and common sense makes for a giant think tank that isn’t connected to the the people the Foundation aims to serve.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Involve the communities that the Foundation aims to help more directly and hire people who actually have passion and experience (including people management skills for position with direct reports).

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Culture not what I'd expected

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Pros

    Beautiful campus, great benefits, exposure to Bill, Melinda and other incredible speakers who come to speak at the campus.

    Cons

    Culture is a bit "cold." They hire VERY smart people but many of those smart people take pay cuts to "save the world" and then feel let down when they realize their job isn't going to save the world, it's just a job.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Gates Foundation

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Great mission proud to work for.

    Cons

    Culture is the biggest challenge staff deal with. hard to get work done.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    Perhaps a chance for a new start...

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Numerous smart folks, good benefits, nice working environment

    Cons

    Toxic work environment, inept management, disrespect of employees at all levels

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    To the co-chairs - please have the courage to hire a Raikes replacement who is compassionate, competent and caring. So many opportunities were missed during Jeff's administration - the best replacement will right the ship and set a new, productive course.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 10 people found this helpful  

    Glad I worked there, thrilled I left

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    The name brand with the foundation is great on your CV, the campus and benefits are great, and there are some individuals who truly changed my outlook on the world for the better. There is some innovating going on, I am better prepared to think even more critically and bring a polished level of professionalism where ever I go.

    Cons

    Toxic, difficult work environment, like 1200 crabs in a bucket trying to claw their way into owning something important. The office dynamics and politics are suffocating even for those most game for those issues. People are obsessed with getting in there and then are faced with am overwhelming amount of red tape. The time I was there was a complete slog with amazing bright spots of travel and good people. I can't say I would recommend the place in the least bit, but I guess I am glad I was there. I am mostly just glad it's over.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The re orgs and the bloat...my god. The roots of the cultural problems run so deep I don't think BCG or MicKinsey can you get out.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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