Chemonics International

  www.chemonics.com
  www.chemonics.com

Chemonics International Reviews

Updated September 26, 2014
Updated September 26, 2014
93 Reviews
3.4
93 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Susanna Mudge
28 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Excellent training, professional development opportunities, and opportunities for travel and overseas assignments (in 12 reviews)

  • Some good opportunities to travel, decent training in project management, and a somewhat collegial environment (in 11 reviews)


Cons
  • Work life balance is an issue at Chemonics (in 18 reviews)

  • long hours, more consideration of work/life balance (in 13 reviews)

More Highlights

57 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Project Management Associate

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time

    Pros

    Great mission and reputation in the Development community

    Cons

    Lots of late hours and high stress

  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    Good company but doesn't know how to retain talent

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

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time

    Pros

    Good opportunities, good training programs, good mentorship programs, opportunity to move around within the company, plenty of travel opportunities.

    Cons

    Departments, divisions and regions are running too independently from each other and thus the culture, promotion opportunities, etc. is decided by very few people and up to individual preferences. HR has very little say in terms of enforcing consistency across the company and ensuring people who are "favorites" actually are qualified for promotion or senior staff are not given undue flexibility. This results in:

    - SVPs (themselves inexperienced and having benefited from the lack of standards for promotion or HR oversight) doing whatever they want - promoting buddies and those that go to happy hour with them
    - Experienced, dynamic, multi-lingual, multi-talented mid-level managers leaving the company
    - Useless staff hanging on for dear life to their positions for 15, 20, 25 years - many in support divisions, when they have neither the motivation, dynamism, skills (have B.A.s and no language skills and have never worked anywhere else) to really contribute. They work from home several days a week, show up to claim other people's work once in a while, and are just dead weight for the company as they take home huge salaries in the process and don't contribute accordingly to new business or anything else.
    - On the other hand, kids with 5 years of experience or less, or no other professional experience getting arbitrarily promoted to key senior positions (like new business) with no idea what they are doing - this frustrates qualified staff and results in the company loosing strong people.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Figure out your management structure! Inexperienced staff in key jobs or old timers who have lost all motivation and spend their time relying on their managers' work for huge salaries is not the way to go. Invest in highly motivated, capable, multi-lingual staff who bring industry experience. It's really a shame to let these people bring the company down.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Great place to grow, to a point

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    There are many opportunities for professional development within the regional business units and you will get exposure to every major element of development project management within a few years.

    Cons

    Opaque decision making processes. Bizarre corporate culture which invests in individual professional development but systemically refuses to value its employees' value-add, resulting in significant attrition at the mid-levels of management.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus on retain of your managers.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Positive change has been inadequate

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Manager in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    High energy
    Not oppressive, generally
    Opportunities to do some interesting stuff
    Some good people, mostly pretty smart (intellectually at least)

    Cons

    Cliques/favoritism, starting at the top. A top executive might be terribly abusive to his/her people, and then the person they spoke to about it is best buddies with that person. Mediocre talent might be approved for working full time from a non-DC location--if they have the right in.
    Lip service paid to "values" -- there are some terrible humans getting away with appalling treatment of others.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    See above.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 4 people found this helpful  

    Best education in international development and more

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time

    Pros

    Chemonics offers the best education in international development project management and business development in the industry - hands down. The company's competitors regularly - and begrudgingly - hire current and former staff because they know Chemonics employees are versatile and well trained.

    Chemonics offers a fast-paced, youthful, and collegial environment where everyone is encouraged to learn and staff are given the opportunity to try almost every aspect of the company’s work. It also offers ample opportunities to travel overseas, so the work is never mundane for long. During my tenure at the company, I have held several different positions, worked in multiple divisions, traveled to dozens of fascinating countries, and lived overseas long-term. As in any company, one’s supervisor has a major influence on job satisfaction, but at the end of the day your job is what you make of it and Chemonics offers many internal job opportunities, so most motivated and talented employees can get out from under a poor supervisor. It is true that the recent levelling-off of funding for international development has hit Chemonics and the international development industry hard, resulting in staffing reductions, slower growth even today, and fewer promotion or job opportunities than in the period from 2005-2010 when funding for development sky-rocketed. But, what was once a smorgasbord of opportunity is now more akin to the environment when I joined and the reality in many other industries in the U.S. It is worth maintaining perspective – there are few companies in the U.S. where you can do more good and see more of the developing world than at a company like Chemonics.

    Also, in response to the recent comments of a former employee who posted that they thought Chemonics was "the most unethical company in DC" and that it "lives by cheating its main client, USAID", I must say that have worked at Chemonics for more than a decade, as an associate, manager, and director, in the home office and overseas, and I can state without reservations that this is categorically untrue. My experience is that Chemonics’ upper management and nearly all its employees strive to be ethical at all times. Keep in mind that Chemonics as a company and its employees work in some of the most corrupt and hostile environments in the world - so ethical dilemmas with government counterparts, local subcontractors, beneficiaries and stakeholders, etc. happen all the time. With that context in mind, I think Chemonics' track record of excellent client service speaks for itself. The systems at Chemonics, the government's regulatory structures and environment, and the never-ending audits make it not only difficult to "cheat" and get away with it, there are clear disincentives for even trying. One only need to look at the demise of AED to see that being unethical does not pay. I will also add, that in my many years at Chemonics no one has ever asked me directly or indirectly to do something that I thought was unethical or was "cheating" our client.

    Lastly, the reviewer’s comment suggesting that directors ask associates to falsify timesheets is surprising because anyone who has worked at Chemonics knows that associates rarely bill their time directly to clients and when they do it is always approved in advance by the client and then followed by submission of pre-determined deliverables for client approval. This makes it highly improbable, if not nearly impossible, for any employee, even if directed, to falsify a timesheet.

    Cons

    Work-life balance is a perennial challenge and improvements could be made, but if current or prospective employees are looking for a consistent 9-5 job then they should probably look elsewhere - Chemonics is not the place for people who are not willing to either work very efficiently or put in extra hours when the job demands it – which is often.

    Every company has some staff who are poor supervisors, where Chemonics' can continue to improve is in its systems for identifying and addressing senior staff (executives and directors especially) with poor personnel management skills. This could include providing staff with everything from regular and timely feedback, to leadership training, to re-assignments, or, in the worst cases, to termination. Recent improvements to the performance evaluation system, including biannual reviews for all staff focused on the organization’s values and the first ever 360 degree anonymous performance reviews for executive management, are a really good start.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pay matters. Last year's salary adjustment was a step in the right direction, but more should be done to bring associate and manager compensation in line with the industry and the cost of living in DC.

    Continue improving the performance management systems and culture, particularly for senior staff and executives because poor leadership and bad personnel management are the biggest drains on productivity, creativity, morale, and retention of talent.

    The world is changing. Invest in the future. USAID is a fantastic client in many ways, but its overall budget has plateaued, funding for traditional development organizations (for-profit and non-profit) is shrinking, and resources are shifting to new partners – especially local but others as well. The long-term growth of the company and health of the ESOP (beyond payment of the debt) will not happen as a USAID-only contractor. Get creative and invest strategically in new opportunities that could pay dividends in the future with new clients and with USAID too.

    Be more thoughtful about who gets promoted to senior levels – director and executive. Not everyone is able to be promoted to those levels so when someone does get promoted to a senior level it says volumes to junior staff about the skills, attitude, values, and experiences the company values.

    A strength can also be a weakness. Chemonics' promote-from-within model and culture has many benefits, but it also has its limits. Not every position in the company can be adequately staffed from internal resources. Hire new blood and talent, especially at the director level (and for some executive roles) to bring new ideas and networks and to challenge old assumptions.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Strong training base for USAID project management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Project Associate in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Project Associate in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Chemonics offers a strong training program for USAID project management, regulations, proposals. There is a fairly young workforce which translates to many social events, new people to meet, and a pretty dynamic atmosphere. There are travel opportunities at all levels, which is not true for many of the same companies in D.C.

    Cons

    Compensation and salary increases are hard to get and arbitrary. Competitive environment and frustrating when opportunities are not equitably given based on technical or regional expertise, but rather, tenure and favoritism. There is a lot of talk about work/ilfe balance but it does not really exist.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Live to work.

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Chemonics International

    Pros

    People are friendly to work with, Learning experience.

    Cons

    Poor Upper Management, No room for growth, Salary under paid

  9.  

    Grow professionally while doing good in the world

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

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Chemonics offers the chance to do mission-driven work in a business environment. Opportunities for professional growth, training, and travel are outstanding. The organization is large enough to offer many different paths according to your interests, and really encourages people to push themselves and try new things. Leadership really cares about international development and takes integrity and doing things the right way seriously. A few years ago, the company became 100% owned by the ESOP, so all company profits are distributed to employee retirement accounts. Vacation time is fairly generous, and the health insurance plan is quite good and very inexpensive. Everyone works really hard, but you go home knowing you helped make the world a little bit better.

    Cons

    There's no getting around it, people work really hard which seems to be epidemic in DC. A great deal of the work in headquarters is about complying with US government regulations, so it is highly administrative especially in your first few years. In order to advance to senior level positions you need to be willing to move overseas to developing countries for several years which is a tremendous experience but can be a sacrifice for family and personal life.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The company's culture and values are what makes it special, don't lose that. Remember that it takes everyone throughout the organization, in DC and abroad, regions and support units to keep the company successful and making a difference.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    great place to start your career in international development

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Manager in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Lots of opportunities in project management, proposal development short- and long-term field assignments for people at all levels. If you demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals of project management and new business, you will have endless opportunities to take on challenging work. Smart, interesting colleagues with good intentions.

    Cons

    Workload can be overwhelming at times. The fact that Chemonics tries to do everything and be everywhere can be frustrating if you want to specialize in a specific technical area (since you will often be pulled in various directions). Senior management is mostly home-grown, they could use an injection of fresh perspective from someone who hasn't been with the company for as long and has worked at other organizations to see how they do business.

    My biggest frustration is that we don't have a deep bench of technical experts. We have a few who are absolutely stellar (and some in the field, which is great) but it would be good if we could retain more in the home office.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please hire and retain more technical experts, esp. in global health, food security, and agriculture.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Productive and challenging

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The company has strong systems in place that facilitates the management of projects and the procuring of new business.

    Cons

    Its focus is more oriented to a generalist approach pushing to get technical expertise from outside.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Incorporate more talent mamanagement strategies

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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