Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  www.gatesfoundation.org
  www.gatesfoundation.org

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated November 10, 2014
Updated November 10, 2014
116 Reviews
3.3
116 Reviews
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Susan Desmond-Hellmann
6 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Great benefits and retirement package (in 18 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 12 reviews)

  • Support of management for consultants is more than the full time employees (in 10 reviews)

More Highlights

30 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Contribute to the greater good, but make sure you take care of yourself

    • 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

    Pros

    The mission is fantastic. The benefits are amazing. If you are on a good team, the colleagues are great. Most people have their heart in the right place.

    Cons

    It's a large group of type-A personalities in one space. Tools don't always work together. Can be very bogged down with red tape and the culture can be fraught with minefields. Some teams are quite dysfunctional.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Really enjoyed my experience as an intern

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

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    As an intern, I was provided with a clear project and goals for the summer. I was invited to meetings with senior leadership and got to present my recommendations to the team. The office space was amazing, very green and a great atmosphere. Seattle is also amazing in the summer time.

    Cons

    There isn't a clear program structure for summer interns to get full-time jobs at the Foundation. There is some bureaucracy which makes it hard to get things to change quickly. I was also told that people are passive aggressive though I didn't see that myself.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Allow interns to get full-time job offers

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Very satisfying.

    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Pros

    1) Passion, 2) Expertise 3) Mentorship 4) Projects

    Cons

    Hectic lifestyle, not as much creative freedom.

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  5. 5 people found this helpful  

    good foundation, great mission, questionable internal politics

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

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Great mission, loved the fact that you felt your work everyday impacted others who are less fortunate. The benefits, even as a contractor are great, snacks / drinks on site, wonderful location, right next to the space needle. Great compensation for my position, I have heard this is similar throughout the organization, at lots of levels. On-site cafeteria is amazing, probably on par with Microsoft campus, if not better.

    Cons

    Bizarre internal politics, team A will let team B fail just so they can claim 'they told you so', things I've never seen in corporate america or anywhere really. A lot of times as a contractor you will be dangled a carrot (of a full time position) that will never materialize (minor critique).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get rid of the 'old boys club' mentality, focus on the people and the mission, not keeping your buddies protected. Overall, I think these are minor issues to contend with and nothing that won't be worked out over time. I think the vast majority of people at the foundation are bright and talented and contribute to the overall focus moving forward.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 4 people found this helpful  

    It is a very different place from the organization that I started working at

    • 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

    No matter where in the organization, you feel like you are part of something that is intent on making changes from next door to all over the world.
    Location is near South Lake Union, right next to Seattle Center so you are near lots of activities.
    Good food onsite.
    Open working environment with the technology to back it up.
    I have a lot of great memories there.

    Cons

    Silo'd Teams, a great deal of opportunity for improvement in communication departments.
    As the size has grown larger, the culture has changed, politicking is what gets you ahead instead of whether you are moving the team ahead.
    Risk is equated with bad, things are said to encourage it but...
    Hiring from outside is the norm, once you are in.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 5 people found this helpful  

    It's better than you've heard

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

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Working at the Gates Foundation provides an opportunity to be on the leading edge of work in your field with very smart colleagues, generous salary / benefits, and immense resources. People are, by and large, there because they're passionate about what they're doing. The Foundation is working very consciously to improve both their external and internal reputation. The connections you make while working there will take your career in amazing directions.

    Cons

    Seattle culture infiltrates the Foundation. There's a lot of talking and there can be annoying turf issues. Expensive outside consultants are used too often and consultant-speak unintelligible to normal humans is ubiquitous (e.g. "boil the ocean", "surface learnings", "convening"). It is a family foundation, too, which means that an extraordinary amount of energy and time are devoted to getting and keeping the "co-chairs" engaged in your work. If they don't get or agree with the direction of where you're going, it doesn't happen. There is a definite bias toward technology solutions, even where they aren't appropriate. And it is easily the most narcissistic place I have ever worked. "Tell us more about us! Tell us how bad we are! We want your open and honest feedback!" My biggest frustration is the lack of internal mentors or conscious career development. That and "the matrix"-- which alludes to the number of people you need to involve in anything you do. It's been humbling. Know that it is not a "dream job".

    The best way to get there is to be great at what you do in your field. I ignore anyone who hits me up on LinkedIn because they've "always wanted to work at the Foundation!". That starts happening a lot once you begin working there.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in a formal alumni network. Focus on career development, knowing that you are building a powerful force for change even beyond your employees' tenure at the Foundation. (Career development is not the same thing as professional development.)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great professional experience, but the Gates Foundation is often a "use or be used" work environment.

    • 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 as a contractor (more than an year)

    Pros

    The Gates Foundation offers the opportunity to work on a wide variety of challenging problems and collaborate with subject matter experts at the top of their game. Good work-life balance if you are willing to push back a bit on the constant demands.

    Cons

    Too much reliance on contractors, so the programmatic teams are regularly losing institutional knowledge and needing to constantly train new temporary employees. Additionally, with the high-pressure, fast-paced environment of the Gates Foundation it is easy to lose work-life balance.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Rather than relying so heavily on contractors, consider a floating pool of FTE professionals that can fill gaps as needed. No need to waste time and resources on constantly training new contractors.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 3 people found this helpful  

    Competitive Environment with very Smart Co-Workers

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

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

    Pros

    Everyone can agree that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation does world changing work. I have worked there in two different capacities two different times in the last 9 years and the culture of highly competitive, extremely intelligent people remain. The company still operates as a young organization in that it embraces new ideas and it's always evolving. People who dislike change would not be happy here. The benefits can't be beat and the environment is stunning in the new campus. They encourage working from home and remote work, which is helpful in the sometimes intense and stressful office environment.

    Cons

    This is a company of academics, there is not a lot of silliness or fun happening at this organization, which makes sense due to the importance of their mission. There is a competitive feeling throughout the company that can feel oppressive, but they still embrance a sense of creativity and change. They constantly re-org often with little to no notice or reasoning behind the changes which is pretty jarring, so you have to be someone who can embrance change easily to thrive in this environment.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Share change before it happens with employees.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    A very unique environment

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

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Opportunities to learn every day, exposure to the best and brightest in the staff and the people the Foundation brings in to collaborate, awesome mission, beautiful campus, culture of continuous improvement

    Cons

    On occasion the egos and politics can get to be a bit much. A relatively young organization still working on its internal processes

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Trust the people you hire and be sure to wall the talk

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Feel good about where you work

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

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

    Pros

    Satisfying to work at a place where even if you're not doing the work on the ground, the work you do enables it in some way.

    Cons

    There is a fine line between pride of enabling good work and arrogance. There seems to be quite a bit of the latter and that was disappointing.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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Motto on ground floor of new building

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