Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  www.gatesfoundation.org
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated Jun 13, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.0 102 reviews

Not yet rated.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann

Susan Desmond-Hellmann


51% of employees recommend this company to a friend

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)

18 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews
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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
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    4 people found this helpful  

    Temp grants management

    Grants Management (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    Prossmart people, beautiful campus, somewhat satisfying work, casual clothes (jeans, flip flops) ok, free starbucks coffee/fruit/snacks/beverages, conveniences available on site like an ATM, dry cleaners, discounted UPS shipping services, (there are other perks not available to temps like use of the gym, bike lockers, subsidies for going "green" on your commute (if you walk or bike to work, you get like $3 a day), use of the parking garage)

    ConsYou are expected to be accessible 24/7 (not so much as a temp since you are not allowed to get a foundation issued cell phone or be allowed to take your laptop home), ok salaries (especially if you are not on the program side), terrible neighborhood, temps are treated like "second class citizens" (no benefits, exclusion from certain meetings, cliquey people not welcoming), often you are left to figure out things/work assignments on your own (sharepoint sites not managed well), overpriced cafeteria offering mediocre food, a mess of software systems that are not synchronized across the foundation (so you often have to learn a few different ones to do your job (with little guidance), slim chance (if any, especially if you are in IT, where almost 90% or so are temps) of being converted to FTE status (full time employee entitled to all the benefits of the foundation)

    Advice to Senior ManagementIf almost half of your workers are contingent workers (a fact verified by an FTE), start treating them right instead of being complacent with the high level of turnover. Tighten up your onboarding strategies (if you have one), invest more time and effort in the training of new workers, encourage a culture of inclusion, treat temps with respect. With so much constant change here, think things through before instituting them. Change this mentality of how temps are treated (since there are so many of them, doing most of the grunt work). If you don't want to waste the time and effort of FTEs in training temps for their roles, hire more of them as FTEs. Stop abusing the legal loopholes regarding the use of contingent workers so you can deny benefits to these workers. As the largest (in terms of endowment) private foundation in the world, you can spend a little more to hire more FTEs (instead of temps, whose morale is low) so you foster a sense of commitment and loyalty. Happier workers equal more productivity, greater output and dedication. Get the message!

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    12 people found this helpful  

    Management skills are still problematic

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    Pros- Feeling like you are trying to do good in this world
    - Amazing depth of experiences and knowledge in your coworkers
    - People you meet are impressed with your employer
    - (for some) Great opportunities to travel, meet other influential people, etc.
    - (for some) Great professional development opportunities

    Cons-Read the other reviews in Glassdoor - the management problem is still a problem. They hire people for knowledge or connections, and then expect them to manage human beings. They then don't reprimand managers who have high turn-over underneath them, or who have multiple complaints to HR about them. Usually, they end up promoting the bad managers.
    - HR exists only to protect upper-level echelon management. Do not expect them to assist in workplace conflict, to respond quickly or at all in cases of abuse, or to guide in professional development. If you complain or ask for guidance, you will be seen as a problem and there will be a 'performance' issue in your future.
    - There's a lot of 'good job!' to your face, and then finding out from your manager that there was a problem with your work. Not that your manager can tell you exactly what that problem was or how to improve, just that your work is unsatisfactory and you need to do better. It hasn't happened to me (yet), but I've seen multiple junior level officers go through this.
    - If you are anything lower than an SPO, you are treated as completely unimportant, despite those roles being the major workhorses on the team. It is acceptable behavior for senior management to scream and belittle PAs and PCs (don't bother going to HR about it) and for SPOs to 'forget' how to do basic tasks like print documents.
    - Diversity? It can be hard to find. Upper management is dominated by whites, mostly by men. Some teams (including some that would surprise you) are almost completely white, with only the support staff being of color. Hidden diversity can be even more difficult, although the home office is very accepting of GLTBQ.
    - Over-reliance on consultants, including those who are grossly overpaid. They build knowledge and take it outside of the foundation, and are working for their own benefit, not for ours. Plus, some of the managers who hire them are easily dazzled by academic soft-shoeing - they could hire graduate students to do the same work and pay them 30K per year.
    - It's hard to trust your coworkers or your team. You never know when you will be reassigned or a coworker will be let go...or if you'll be the one to be let go next. It's hard to stay invested in a project or a team when you know that you could show up to work tomorrow and be told that your portfolio is now being covered by someone else...with no explanation.

    Advice to Senior ManagementRespect all human lives - including your employees. Treat management personnel issues as important - management ineptitude results in lost work-efficiency and turnover costs the foundation money (yes, it would be cheaper in both short & long run to replace the problem manager than to keep replacing staff). Invest in HR improvements - it is currently considered to be the secret police of the foundation; aka, no one trusts them. Particularly when they are 'investigating' a bad annual survey. When you've seen the track record of people being let go because they reported management issues, do you really think that people want to identify themselves from an anonymous survey?

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Good mission, great benefits.

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsThe mission you support is excellent as are the benefits.

    ConsThe salaries are little low and advancement isn't really possible.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • Culture & Values
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    1 person found this helpful  

    If you would like working for Microsoft...you won't mind the Foundation

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsTalented people, good intentions, great benefits

    ConsToo many reorgs and little support for line staff

    Advice to Senior ManagementFigure out how to make better use of ALL your staff and create a culture where people are supported to do their best and want to stay because they can do their best work not just because the pay, benefits and prestige are good.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
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    • Approves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    An amazing place ... with some challenges

    Deputy Director (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsYou will never work with a more talented and accomplished group of peers who share a deep commitment to a common goal. There are amazing people here.

    ConsThe organizational and management culture is challenging: a self-imposed emphasis on speed with rapid cycles of rethinking seem, in some strategies at least, to result in lots of false starts. On the team I joined, we had a very high turnover rate, especially at the higher levels, which was frustrating.

    Advice to Senior ManagementWorking to catalyze and support change in an established "industry" will require greater stability and continuity among program officers and deputy directors. Relationship building and consistent follow through is critical, but is not yet a strong suit for the foundation.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    the mission is everyone's true north

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsIn many ways, it's like most complex organizations - constant leadership change, reorgs, shifting priorities. But at the end of each day, no matter how challenging, I walk away knowing I contributed in some way to a greater good.

    ConsYour success hinges greatly on your manager. This can be a very good thing if you have a manager who is your champion. If you don't, it could be completely detrimental to your career growth. Manager effectiveness is still very much an area of development for the organization as a whole.

    Advice to Senior ManagementAcknowledge that employees who aren't managers or directors still have a voice. More skip-level feedback should be encouraged, even solicited.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Great place to work, but if you are contractor in IT and hope to become full time employee you will be disappointed.

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsGreat location.
    Awesome new campus with plenty of windows and work space.
    Good equipment and furniture to work with.
    Good management, friendly, hands-off style.

    ConsIf you are a contractor you will quickly feel left out in many events that take place at the foundation.

    If you are working as a contractor in IT you will not have a chance to get hired on full time but you will see many other departments converting contingent staff to full time.

    Advice to Senior ManagementNone.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    OK place to work as a contractor

    Contract Technical Writer (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsCampus is amazing; onsite café was fantastic; work was interesting; I was pretty much left on my own to do my job; the Help Desk staff was awesome and amazingly responsive (unlike at Microsoft); it was a very low-stress contract, which was great

    ConsLots of cliques--I felt like an outcast; contractors are treated like second-class citizens, even though 99% of my project team were contractors; employees spent a great deal of time complaining to each other about internal politics; the project that I was hired to work on was poorly planned; it's a very untrusting environment; open-space work area is extremely annoying--you have to wear headphones and listen to music if you want to concentrate and get work done

    Advice to Senior ManagementIt's hard to give advice to management when I was only a contractor there for a short time, but it's obvious there are problems that need to be addressed--listen to your employees and try to resolve the issues.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    8 people found this helpful  

    A very manic-depressive place to work

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsThe mission, the people, the campus, the chance to do work that actually makes a difference in the world.

    ConsHierarchy, back-stabbing, bad decision-making, layers and layers of process and bureaucracy on top of everything. Most of the good work I've done here, I did in secret. If I had shared my plans, someone would have tried to kill it.

    Advice to Senior ManagementHire people you can trust, and then trust them to make good decisions. Don't insist that every important decision go through you, and that everyone wait while you get around to making those decisions. Allow talented people to do what they do best.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    9 people found this helpful  

    Great mission, rewarding work but unhealthy culture of backstabbing, disrespect and lack of leadership.

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsIf you want to work with some of the brightest people, use the latest technology and feel like you're making a difference then this is an amazing place to work. The campus is beautiful and the benefits are exceptional. Great place for people who are self starters, who know what to do and just do it. The operations areas are among the more people-friendly areas in which to work. There is a great deal of opportunity here.

    ConsUnfortunately this is a very challenging environment. The executive management team doesn't seem to have a clue as to what the "worker bees" need to get their jobs done. Their answer is process and more process. Just when you think there can't possibly be another set of templates, another committee, another whole department with some long acronym designed to help you get stuff done... And, at the end of the day, you are just a cog in the machine. They know the work will chew you up in 2 or 3 years tops. And they don't care because there is an endless parade of wide eyed people eager to have a chance to work there.
    Many managers have no idea how to manage people. Don't bother complaining to HR though. HR is the department of platitudes.

    Advice to Senior ManagementDo more listening and less talking. There is survey after survey that illustrates that people are hungry for the truth, hungry for a healthy culture that is on par with the caliber of the mission. And hire managers who know how to manage, who are leaders and mentors. And hire some HR people who care about humans.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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