Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
3.0 of 5 103 reviews
www.gatesfoundation.org Seattle, WA 1000 to 5000 Employees

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated Jul 5, 2014
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3.0 103 reviews

                             

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann

Susan Desmond-Hellmann


50% of employees recommend this company to a friend
103 Employee Reviews
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Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "Great benefits and retirement package"
    in 14 reviews
  • "New campus is beautiful and gives an appearance of transparency"
    in 6 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
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

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    4 people found this helpful  

    toxic culture at a great organization

    Tier III IT (Former Employee)
    Seattle, WA

    Prosa fine organization helping people do great work to help the world.
    a beautiful workplace

    ConsEchoing what others have mentioned, if you get hired as a contractor in IT don't ever expect to be converted. There are IT staff members who have been with the foundation for multiple years as contractors. Like Microsoft, the Gates Foundation requires contractors to display their "orange badge of shame" at all times. Expect to be treated poorly by entitled full time staff, and of course total exclusion from all company events. Want to use the world class bike to work facilities? Ok, but the locker rooms are FTE-only. You'll even be included from teambuilding events on your own team.

    All those great benefits? You don't get any of them.

    The IT organization is dramatically oversized, a clear waste of money at a foundation that clearly doesn't care about running a tight ship.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    4 people found this helpful  

    Don't be enamored by the mission, the company culture is shameful....

    IT Manager (Current Employee)

    Pros*Mission
    *Benefits
    *Campus (facility and location)
    *Some great people

    Cons*Culture is suffocating, toxic, hostile, arrogant and not supportive
    *People's egos get in the way of getting work done ("I am smarter than you, NO, I am smarter than you")
    *Dysfunctional IT org with a weak CIO and embarrassing leadership team (What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.)
    *Money is not a constraint like true non-profit and for-profit companies

    Advice to Senior ManagementStart over and hire strong leaders with some semblence of emotional intelligence.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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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

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    Feel good about where you work

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
    Seattle, WA

    ProsSatisfying 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.

    ConsThere 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.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    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

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    5 people found this helpful  

    Great mission, great organization - IT Organization Broken

    IT Project Manager (Former Employee)
    Seattle, WA

    ProsThe mission is incredible and there are a lot of smart people working hard to achieve it
    Amazing campus and great benefits
    Work/life balance can be great for many who take advantage of the "flexible work styles"
    For geeks you will have all the Micorosft latest and greatest at yuor disposal

    ConsFor anyone in IT it is a disfunctional and ineffective organization. The CEO is a very smart and capable man but is very introverted and his focus his up the organization. This is a huge problem as his "leadership" team are incompetant and lack even basic management skills. Their traits range from basic immaturity to emotionally unstable; there is also a "boys club" whose behaviour is oftern very inappropriate.
    The result of this lack of leadership is spinning at the lower levels; no clear strategy, inablility to make simple decisions effectilvely and worst of all a huge waste of foundation resources.

    Advice to Senior ManagementInvest in employee and specficially leadership and management skills development. There is a huge reliance on highly paid consultants for staff aigmentation - hold managers accountable for hiring and retaining strong teams

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    16 people found this helpful  

    Useful observations for people considering a job at the foundation

    Financial Manager (Current Employee)
    Seattle, WA

    Pros• It is a fast-paced and constantly evolving place. If you don’t enjoy being an active part of a changing environment or dealing with uncertainty, this can be a stressful place. If you thrive in dynamic environments, you will find lots of opportunity to shape how the organization does business.
    • The foundation is in a lucky situation to attract highly capable people. If you used to be the top performer on your team in your prior job, don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly surrounded by people who are equally smart, dedicated and high performing. It is up to you whether you choose to check your ego at the door and get excited about working with such a peer group or whether you get intimidated and feel like others are out-shining you. Contrary to some other comments, I haven’t seen much backstabbing going on, but I can imagine that some people used to feel more exceptional before joining the foundation and end up interpreting their new environment as less friendly than it really is.
    • The diversity of people’s careers is impressive – many have deep scientific backgrounds, others are business people or have worked in policy-related jobs. The workforce is very international, though it would be good to continue to grow the share of people coming from developing countries. Having the openness and flexibility to work effectively with a broad spectrum of people is crucial for someone to enjoy working at the foundation.
    • There is a substantial amount of bureaucracy involved in the foundation’s work, and given the incredible number and size of investments that are being made every year, this is no surprise (for comparison, think about a corporate procurement department that processes $3-4bn in contracts every year, many of which go to overseas organizations and involve complex issues such as IP, clinical trials, etc.). The foundation’s business processes are maturing continuously and I’ve seen considerable progress since I joined. To be frank, working here is not all about inventing new ways to save kids in Africa, it is also about doing the necessary due diligence and paperwork that goes into making responsible long-term investments.
    • I got a sense that manager effectiveness and career development were not prioritized in the foundation’s early years. In the last couple of years, however, we’ve seen strong awareness of these topics among senior management, accompanied by very concrete steps taken to address them. The foundation is moving gradually toward a mature business that figures out how to manage its talent more effectively. I’ve been very satisfied with my superiors since I joined, but can understand that others were perhaps less lucky and found themselves working for a boss whose strengths were in vaccine science and not people management.
    • Benefits are excellent. Pay is very good for a non-profit, though it may be higher in the private sector for certain job profiles. However, if these are important factors in your decision to work for the foundation, you should probably ask yourself if you really belong here.

    ConsSee under PROs
    Many aspects of working at the foundation have a positive and a negative side. I attempted to explain in a balanced way and posted them above.
    Personally, I am very satisfied with my job at the foundation and would say that the pros clearly outweigh the cons.

    Advice to Senior ManagementContinue the process of maturing the organization and recognize that changes need time to settle before benefits occur. Too much change can exhaust and confuse people while taking away valuable bandwidth for interaction with partners. Keep focusing on manager effectiveness when hiring and promoting. Try to create more space for people to work on exciting projects outside the hierarchy (Google’s 20% time could be an inspiration for this) and avoid unproductive second-guessing by senior management. Review the role and contributions of consultants and contractors to spend money more effectively and reduce dependency on non-foundation staff for critical activities.

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

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Awesome! Super talented people determined to change the world!

    Business Analyst (Former Employee)
    Seattle, WA

    ProsAwesome coworkers
    Opportunity to make an impact
    Very professional work environment
    Superb facilities for staff (benefits and salary)

    Consslow decision making
    Regional offices aren't empowered enough to make strategic decisions
    Poor work life balance

    Advice to Senior ManagementPromote work life balance, break the silos to ensure greater coordination between teams and empower regional offices

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

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Excellent experience, the environment is dynamic and challenging

    Program Officer (Current Employee)
    Seattle, WA

    ProsGreat colleagues, challenging environment, important issues. It is a very unique place to work -- great opportunities, the chance to be entrepreneurial, and to push for positive change. The diversity of the issues is also unique and creates an opportunity to learn from other areas.

    ConsGrowing quickly, increasingly corporate and more process.

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

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    3 people found this helpful  

    Sad experience for workers, great for the world.

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
    Seattle, WA

    ProsThe belief that you can change the world is great and they have the money to back it.

    ConsDo not expect to be treated as an equal. The sense of entitlement just because you work at the foundation runs rampant, which is a little unsettling.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Why Work for Us?

We are inspired by the mission, All Lives Have Equal Value, and compelled by the opportunity to make an impact -- before, during, and after our time at the foundation. Experienced, and highly engaged, we set… Full Overview

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