Argon ST Reviews

Updated October 4, 2014
Updated October 4, 2014
24 Reviews
3.2
24 Reviews
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Argon ST Jr. Chair, CEO, & President W. James (Jim) McNerney
W. James (Jim) McNerney
5 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Interesting work exists, indifferent management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Engineer IV in Fairfax, VA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer IV in Fairfax, VA

    I worked at Argon ST full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    - Good people putting in good work
    - Good benefits
    - For the most part, runs fairly efficiently

    Cons

    - Management is at odds with where the market is going and bringing in good work.
    - Seems to be on the fringe of technologies with little momentum building.
    - Core product line is arcane and inefficient that only a few old timers has a full grasp on.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Amazingly smart engineers, Great place to test and challenge yourself

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

    I worked at Argon ST full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    I worked here before Argon ST was acquired by Boeing and it was a great place to work. Company policies and benefits were very fair to employees. I felt I had the freedom to new develop ideas and bring them forward in an environment where leadership would listen and consider them.

    Cons

    The company was acquired by Boeing in 2012, so a lot of the good company benefits and culture began to change as parts of the company were absorbed into the Boeing structure.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    On the slide

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA

    I worked at Argon ST full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Argon has some very interesting work and a group of very talented engineers - as well as some really nice people. This was a wonderful and innovative place to work before the company went public and the founders left. The acquisition by Boeing has not helped the atmosphere, but it's probably kept the doors open. In the Fairfax location, most offices have windows. But depending on your job, you may spend most of your time in a windowless lab. Nearby there are many options for lunch or run errands. But like most of Northern Virginia, the traffic is difficult.

    Cons

    Argon is struggling. They're having difficulty maintaining their current size - there have been quite a few layoffs recently. I'm not sure if the problem is the economy, the defense budget cuts, local management or Boeing corporate management, but I see other companies doing much better.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I recommend that management focusing more on new product development and updating their software tools sets and methodologies. They seem to be coasting off the work from the early 2000s. Furthermore, they need to invest more in R&D and in expanding their customer base. I understand that integration jobs have higher margins, but today's fielded system becomes tomorrows relic. You need to keep your technology pipeline full.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5.  

    Real Argon Experience

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

    I have been working at Argon ST full-time

    Pros

    I enjoy the option to work a 5/40 or 9/80 schedule.

    Cons

    Now that Boeing has taken over, the morale has gone down. It doesn't help that there are quartly lay offs happening to Argon employees.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Was great starter place back in the day

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

    I have been working at Argon ST full-time

    Pros

    Worked with some amazing people. This was a great place to start at right out of college. I really feel I got where I am today because this company enabled me to grow. The domain and type of work was interesting and I got to work alot of types of projects over the years. The benefits (401k and medical insurance in particular) under Boeing are hard to beat.

    Cons

    I think the glory days of this company are over. There is a lack of work coming due to many factors including government cutbacks on defense but also due to poor business decisions of not growing to other areas and alienation of some existing customers. There are several old timer engineers who have been promoted to roles such as management but lack in the necessary soft skills such as managing employees, customer relations and business development. Also, any efforts to raise these issues is ignored and suppressed due to the some of the managers and engineers focus on only protecting their inner circle of people while excluding others. With this behavior a hostile environment is created where anybody who is not in this tiny circle is not rewarded for their work, is micromanaged and assassinated during technical reviews, gets bad performance reviews (note that I haven't gotten the bad reviews myself but many did simply by not being in the circle), is not allowed to provide any technical input, and is ultimately excluded from future projects with the hope of getting pushed out. Because of this there is serious attrition where a lot of experienced talented people are leaving or getting laid off while being replaced with new grads who also face a tough environment as they are expected to "fit" into this culture of tribalism. Additionally the technology used for software development is quite backwards by today's standards (even government standards), rigidly controlled by the tiny circle, and others are given very limited if any opportunity to update it.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Promote up experienced managers who have the necessary soft skills, be open about updating to newer technologies, diversify client base, develop strategy to handle lulls as opposed to simply laying off any people not in the inner circle.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  7.  

    Defense contractor

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Technical Staff in Fairfax, VA
    Former Employee - Technical Staff in Fairfax, VA

    I worked at Argon ST full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    9/80 work schedule
    Flex work hours

    Cons

    Indifferent middle management
    Middle management politics
    Uncertain outlook

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Good people leave - why?

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Fascinating work, some great people, but generally a dysfunctional company

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA

    I have been working at Argon ST full-time

    Pros

    Challenging and fascinating projects. Some very smart people work here. This is a good place for a first job if you are a college intern or a recent graduate of the right school, such as MIT, VTU, RIT. Boeing (the parent company) benefits are good.

    Cons

    Argon ST does not have enough customers to weather dry spells without layoffs.

    The archaic, heavy-weight software development process (recently re-branded as "agile" with very few changes) is broken and often used as a means of controlling people more than quality.

    Some long-timers only share domain knowledge with those that they like that come from the right schools, which is a problem in light of the brain drain (see below). The vision, experience and knowledge of experienced engineers that come from other companies is generally not respected. Most of them and many of the best engineers have left Argon ST over the past few years. Hiring now is almost exclusively limited to college graduates.

    The CM and build tools are a disaster and efforts to address these issues appear to be going in an even worse direction.

    Some slackers stay on year after year and are taken care of very well - seemingly at the expense of others who work *very* hard but are not well-rewarded.

    Boeing is forcing some necessary changes but a lack of vision and inertia in the old guard Argon ST culture have made these changes far more painful than they need to be.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Turning electrical and software engineers into managers rarely works out well. Hire people with proven management skills and give them the authority make decisions and execute them.

    Employees follow your example. Show respect for customers and employees - even when they are not present.

    Recognize that your "resources" are people with families and treat them accordingly.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    The Fairfax overlords are running the place into the ground.

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

    I worked at Argon ST full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The company, now owned by Boeing, has a feel of a medium sized company. There is more than one program.

    Cons

    The people in charge have been there too long. Boeing now owns the company, and the Boeing people are in the process of getting rid of these people. They've been going through rounds of layoffs, and will probably have more of these in the future.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The glory days of 10 years ago aren't coming back. Let it go. While you're at it, let the Newington folks go too. They were doing better before the merger.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Good place to start career.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA

    I have been working at Argon ST full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    I have worked at Argon ST for several years. There are many interesting and exciting projects to work on. It's a great place to start at right out of college. The engineering staff is full of talent with diverse backgrounds, and they will help you learn their products and development processes.

    Cons

    Compensation has not increased over time to match the market salary for my experience level. Many of my peers have left for other companies and have received salaries 10% to 15% higher.

    I feel that there is a disproportionate ratio of experienced engineers to new hires. This is a problem because Argon ST's products are complex and have a steep learning curve and require deep knowledge of the customers missions. Because of this many of the experienced engineers are tasked with things like integration, proposals, and management when they would ideally like to be doing development.

    I’d score Argon ST a 4 out of 12 on the Joel Test with yeses on source control, daily builds, bug database, and quiet work environment.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Provide engineering with the resources to do their jobs as efficiently as possible.

    Improve retention by evaluating the salaries of your engineers to ensure they are inline with the market.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Challenging and interesting work - in a challenging corporate culture.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA

    I have been working at Argon ST full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    There are many talented electrical and software engineers that challenge each other to be their best. There are fascinating projects to work on that provide a new hire with challenging opportunities to develop their experience.

    Cons

    Management is mostly made up of engineers who have been promoted into management by other managers that are also former engineers. So there is a tendency to "engineer" the organization using processes and tools and avoid confronting personnel issues that come up when managing people.

    Argon ST prefers to "grow its own" experience and can be a difficult company for experienced professionals to integrate into.

    The organization has been in a merger process since being acquired by Boeing in 2010. Management is still trying to find its way and benefits are not what they used to be.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Don't be afraid to rock the boat if that is what it takes to do the right thing.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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Fairfax Building (Argon ST sign)
Argon ST HQ
Integration Lab

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