Aquilent Reviews

Updated July 6, 2015
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David Fout
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27 Employee Reviews

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  1. A place where you are appreciated!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Business Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Business Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great Benefits Great People Great Leadership Fantastic team building/networking activities

    Cons

    There is nothing I can say wrong about this organization.

    Advice to Management

    Continue doing a great job!


  2. Helpful (1)

    Great company!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Business Analyst in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Business Analyst in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great reputation, great work environment, team projects, long history of success, continues to grow, most projects are high profile government project.

    Cons

    There is only one office location other than customer site and that is in Laurel, Maryland. Some employees have to work at customer site full or part time. no commercial projects

    Advice to Management

    Office space needs to keep pace with growth.


  3. Helpful (3)

    Good for a Government Contractor

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great talented people work here on fun projects. Ethics are strictly held and followed. Unlike larger government contractors, if your contract ends, you will not immediately lose your job as Aquilent maintains a bench.

    Cons

    The CIO does not seem to be open to anyone else's ideas or opinions below the fifth floor. He is insulting to staff. If you are applying, make sure you ask for a salary that you will be happy to live with for a few years as raises are difficult to negotiate.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    Toxicity is high. Morale is low. But the pay is great.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Business Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Senior Business Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Aquilent full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Great benefits. - Great pay (but negotiate because raises don't come easy.) - Cost of living pay increase - Profit sharing - Great ideas for employee growth - Social events - Flexible hours - Telework options

    Cons

    Management of projects is more important than morale amongst the troops. It's easy to feel like a worker-bee in a beehive. This particular beehive considers itself top of the industry despite Aquent, Booz, CGI, even Accenture running circles around them in the same town and internationally. In this particular beehive, employee suggestions that are contrary to project leads are NOT welcomed as straight shooters who want to get the job done with little politics, mind games or micromanagement. Aquilent encourages the "big fish, small pond" mentality amongst its management. Many leads who do not have the mentality have left out of frustration in the last few months. Project higher-ups are limited by their arrogant, limited view and experience as most of the management are ex-government workers who were pigeon-holed. They do not appreciate experience or skills they are not familiar with and therefore have a difficult time allocating certain skill sets they are not familiar with or ... feel threatened by and cannot micromanage. Employee internal & external training and development programs are great ideas and very poorly executed. Project higher-ups don't encourage employees to get certifications even if it benefits the project unless you're part of the cliquish culture. The same cliquish culture that make the otherwise fun social events a struggle in human interaction. Asking for direction and the lay of the land is frowned upon in this sink-or-swim environment. Those who drink the kool-aid submit to poor decisions and the "leadership" of higher-ups. Aquilent uses the term "worry transfer" when referring to the way it takes on government client tasks. It also takes on the clients culture and inability to make the most efficient decisions where it's no longer problem solving, it's work-around creation to maintain the status quo. HR is there to protect the company not help employees feel valued as they are part of the clique-ish and elitist culture who look at employees as bodies and worker-bees not resources. It's difficult to jump on other projects despite what they have you believe as well. Last con: This isn't the first review or expressed opinion stating the aforementioned long standing issues. Left to fester, the company morale will continue to tank, the attrition, currently at 25%, will increase and all the hard and good work will begin to diminish. Also word travels fast in this industry.

    Advice to Management

    Overhaul the HR and hold terrible managers and terrible leadership accountable for the terrible morale and increasing attrition rate. Make sure the Aquilent 11 and growth programs aren't just lip service. Get rid of managers and inspire leadership. Yes there is a difference. Higher-ups who are hands-off need to pay attention to what's going on below the ivory tower or it will crumble from it's foundation.


  6. Helpful (3)

    Kind of a crapshoot: can be decent for a short while, more than likely will just be frustrating.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    There's a lot of really great people at this company, and your ability to be around them can really make or break your work experience. They seem to hire heavily based on personality, and the upside is that I haven't really worked with anyone here that I don't actually like and get along with very well. They have been an enormous bright spot in my stay here, and they are the reason I took this job in the first place (my interview really hit all of the notes I wanted to hear about caring about the quality of work environment). Pay's okay (it seems largely dependent on your ability to negotiate your own starting salary). They certainly have a flexible work schedule and a really relaxed corporate HQ environment, provided you are not supposed to be at a client site. I think the company's going to be having a rough next 6 months while they experience some growing pains, but overall, this certainly comes across as a pretty stable company. Health insurance and 401k options are pretty solid.

    Cons

    It's a body shop, however much they may argue that they are not. It's really odd: some positions are effectively permanent (some people are stuck on projects with no possibility of advancement for years), and yet others are never ending revolving doors. Overall, they almost never seem to promote from within so your ability to actually move up in any way beyond a simple title bump and maybe bringing in an extra 4-5k for it seems extremely limited. There's a huge degree of variability in how busy you will actually be as an employee: everyone seems to either be stuck in neutral or ramped up into high gear. This can be a very frustrating environment to work in, even when you are surrounded by good people. Management is poor, and the unstaffed HR of VP position for the last year has meant that resource management has been a complete joke. Part of the problem that they have with staffing positions, particularly development roles, is that there is actually no real understanding in management and HR as to the nuance of certain development tasks. Speaking as a developer, most of the work is pretty dull too: it's 90% WCMS work, usually in poorly maintained environments that require a lot of clean up, with all the frustration that comes with the very traditional "hurry up and wait" mentality that is endemic in government contracting. Seriously, developers: almost no one in this company really understands what you do. Most of your work will be things you probably could have been doing with your eyes closed 15 years ago. Some of their more interesting projects, they can't keep funded. Aquilent is also loathe to ever push back on a client request, which is a frustrating environment to work in when most of your client contact points are non technical people who have little understanding of what they are asking for. Aquilent can be a great place if you're on the right project (usually one that lets you stay in Laurel) for maybe 2 years, but I'm hardpressed to think of a reason even under the best of circumstances to stay longer than that. There are some really great people in important positions (PMs, tech leads), but by and large even they end up being really stymied by the fact that Aquilent is a bit cheap, and unwilling to push back on unreasonable client requests. The lack of advancement opportunities, and the complete lack of control you have as an employee over what sorts of projects you would like to work on means that you can very easily feel like little more than a line item on an account director's balance sheet, and you will be treated exactly like that. There's also a complete lack of company wide development standards. Big portions of your work will be devoted to cleaning up old code (some that Aquilent has written) because there is generally a very poor QA and testing process on most work. If you are looking for a shop that does test driven development, and really knows and emobides best practices as a whole, this is not it. For me personally, coming here has been probably a negative move for my career. I've been moved around more times than I care to think about in the last year and I've spent most of my time onboarding and offbaording projects rather than actually doing work. Generally, I feel like my skills have deteriorated, and certainly if I had known that this was 90% WCMS work, I would not have taken a job here. My interview was a little bit misleading (not intentionally so, it just feels that because almost no one who interviewed me knows about differences in types of development, that I got sold a bad bag of goods as a result), and this isn't unheard of. Aquilent does seem to have a reputation for hiring LAMP developers and then fitting them into boring WCMS cleanups in 15 year old content management systems. Developers be ware.

    Advice to Management

    Hire and keep a VP of HR. Your company culture is very fragmented and is not being disseminated at client sites well, which means that over 2/3rds of your company feels like they work more for their client than they do Aquilent. Hire people for the skills you actually want: if you want a drupal developer, hire a drupal developer, don't overstaff a team with 3 full time positions worth of people who don't know drupal when you could just hire one guy who knows the CMS well who could handle everything. At least consider hiring from within. Lack of advancement, particularly in non development positions is responsible for a very high turnover. Development roles only feel like they have a shot for advancement, because no one really knows what's involved in them so once the company finds a developer they like they're loathe to get rid of them, ever. Vertical business units are ridiculous. if you're going to do this, you need to have a much more transparent and open resource management system, because right now employees are largely left to fend for themselves to find their next project when their current one ends, or risk being let go because no one at Aquilent really tried to make a spot for them anywhere. Similarly, you need to have some kind of stability for employees that you can't really seem to place anywhere for more than a couple of months at a time. HR does not have a handle on this currently.


  7. Unbelievably, the worst company I have worked for in my life!!!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Aquilent full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Work from home Pool table Lounge area Fruits delivered daily Cool social functions

    Cons

    If you notice that my "Pros" had nothing to do with my position, there's a reason for that. The issue with Aquilent is that there are Sr. managers who think they are technical who don't know how the products they commit to the customer works. A previous review stated that the company does not know how to say "no" to the customer is an understatement. Aquilent will waste resources to accomplish the customers goal even if it doesn't make sense. Beware of the people that current Aquilent employees claim as "Very Smart". I have had a run in or two with these people and I will say "Not the sharpest tools in the toolbox". The people referenced are in higher positions which means if you are in a technical role, your opinion will not count. if they tell you that they value all opinions, then assume they are misleading you (how would you determine if they were misleading you?). If you want to understand the company and how they operate, ask HR about the turnover rate that many people have stated here in reviews, and ask why. Also, in your interview ask any of the technical people to explain their process for development (how do you deploy code, what tools do you use and if they are currently incorporated into the environment) or just simple tests. Understand (fully) what your daily tasks are and what you are committing to when you get an offer. If interviewers can't explain to you what your daily activities are like, then ask to speak to a person that deals with the day-to-day. As a manager, there should be a vision of what your plan for your group for the next 6 months. If you get a technical interview, ask your potential manager "How do you see your group in the next 6 months", "How many people do you have on your team", "What has your group accomplished in the last 6 months" and if you don't like the answers to these questions dig a little more until you get satisfied/unsatisfied answers. I wish I had a review like this which would have prevented me from accepting the position. My assumptions is that most people that have been at Aquilent 5+ years that they have just accepted doing just the minimum amount of work and get paid a decent salary (they have accepted the foolishness). Lastly, if your gut tells you that the people in front of you are misleading......STAY AWAY or you will regret it and will be writing your story on glassdoor as well. Don't let the "Best company to work" title make you feel that the environment is different.

    Advice to Management

    Management does not need to get involved currently, but the HR group needs to step up and find out why people are leaving and fix the problem. Managers are not capable of fixing the problems because they don't engage in Manager-Employee conversations and this is a huge problem because the reason there is a high turnover rate is because HR doesn't get involved and do what's necessary which is remove people that are ineffective from management. HR, have an anonymous survey go out to all of your employees and ask specifics about what they would change in their job. Also, send that same survey to you managers and see if the results are consistent.


  8. Developers Beware!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Aquilent full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    competitive salary, decent benefits, profit sharing, fun activities, telecommuting, flexible schedules

    Cons

    Job security, high turnover, inconsistent management styles and effectiveness, location (Laurel), management has no idea what development teams are up to, HR has no clue about how to retain or place people; they just rubber stamp the management power clique I was laid off due to lack of ANY Java (or any other) software development. The company is throwing a lot of effort into its cloud support, so it should be a good place for cloud system admins. It's also a good place for CMS and UX folks. But developers beware because it's slim (to no) pickings. Working at Aquilent is exciting in that it's a crap shoot – if you land a project that is interesting and lasts longer than six months, things are great. I learned a lot on the few good projects. More often, I was stuck with some lackluster project employing obsolete technology or put on the bench where you wait wondering if the company will find something for you to work on. My first project was a disaster; our prime basically “fired” Aquilent, although in all fairness, the prime was a joke, but you would think Aquilent would have vetted them a little better. It lasted a couple of months and then I was on the bench. Welcome to Aquilent! Then some decent and not so decent projects came along, culminating in a two year project that was great. (Two years is an extraordinarily long project for this company.) After busting my butt for two years, it ended and according to HR and upper management, all development work had dried up and I was back on the bench. I was told the bench was “strong” and not to worry. Then one day out of the blue, I was told to pack. First time I have been laid off in a long career. They have fairly aggressive schedules, which management likes to cloak as “agile”. All of Aquilent's contracts are with the government and we all know how agile the government is. Aquilent does not invest in its people. If they have a project for you, you are safe and everyone is happy. Otherwise, they let you go and with little notice. Doesn't seem to matter how long you have been with the company. Managers above line management need to be much more in touch with the people doing the actual work. Their only connection with the workers is through the almighty schedules. Company tries to be hip with hip parties and hip pool tables and hip “refresh” zones, but under the hip facade is another federal contractor that struggles finding it's niches and goes with what it thinks is the latest big wave (cloud) instead of sticking with tried and true development work.

    Advice to Management

    Get your heads out of the Cloud. Get some BD people who know how to get work. The company was started on development work and needs to figure out how to get it again. Pad your bench and make it more comfortable because too many of your folks spend time on it.


  9. Great Place to Work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Solutions Architect in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Solutions Architect in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great people to work with and good opportunity to learn a lot of new things if that is something that you are interested in. Really great people and the company cares about you.

    Cons

    The company wants to grow, but the people at the top don't really understand how to make that happen


  10. Unlike most contracting agencies for the federal government Aquilent hires contractors as employees with benefits!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Web Editor/Writer in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Web Editor/Writer in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Benefits--health, vision, dental, LTD, retirement, opportunities for advancement, tools for training, and an overall desire to create a community

    Cons

    It is a contracting agency and employees often have to work onsite at the federal agency making it hard to connect with others at Aquilent.

    Advice to Management

    Train your ADs and PMs to act like they do in the private sector with their employees. Despite the great benefits and attempts to get everyone pumped up by the internal marketing team I still feel like I am nothing but a body on the job. And having to be onsite in a sweatshop environment. What I'm saying is go to bat for your employees. They provide great service and product so don't insult them by having them work onsite for the clients in sub-par environments.


  11. Mediocre - hit the ground running or you're out

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Laurel, MD
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Aquilent full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Good technologies and focused management team with a strong belief in what they are doing and how they run the business.

    Cons

    Not open to new ideas or different ways of running the business and solving problems.



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