Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated Jun 15, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.0 102 reviews

Not yet rated.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann

Susan Desmond-Hellmann


51% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Great benefits and retirement package (in 14 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 10 reviews)

  • It's a very flat organization with very little to no room for professional growth (in 5 reviews)

More Highlights
102 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
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    Nice company to work with

    CRM Consultant (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsJob satisfaction. Great workplace. Great people

    ConsNo Cons as i can think of.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    5 people found this helpful  

    Temp grants management

    Grants Management (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    Prossmart people, beautiful campus, somewhat satisfying work, casual clothes (jeans, flip flops) ok, free starbucks coffee/fruit/snacks/beverages, conveniences available on site like an ATM, dry cleaners, discounted UPS shipping services, (there are other perks not available to temps like use of the gym, bike lockers, subsidies for going "green" on your commute (if you walk or bike to work, you get like $3 a day), use of the parking garage)

    ConsYou are expected to be accessible 24/7 (not so much as a temp since you are not allowed to get a foundation issued cell phone or be allowed to take your laptop home), ok salaries (especially if you are not on the program side), terrible neighborhood, temps are treated like "second class citizens" (no benefits, exclusion from certain meetings, cliquey people not welcoming), often you are left to figure out things/work assignments on your own (sharepoint sites not managed well), overpriced cafeteria offering mediocre food, a mess of software systems that are not synchronized across the foundation (so you often have to learn a few different ones to do your job (with little guidance), slim chance (if any, especially if you are in IT, where almost 90% or so are temps) of being converted to FTE status (full time employee entitled to all the benefits of the foundation)

    Advice to Senior ManagementIf almost half of your workers are contingent workers (a fact verified by an FTE), start treating them right instead of being complacent with the high level of turnover. Tighten up your onboarding strategies (if you have one), invest more time and effort in the training of new workers, encourage a culture of inclusion, treat temps with respect. With so much constant change here, think things through before instituting them. Change this mentality of how temps are treated (since there are so many of them, doing most of the grunt work). If you don't want to waste the time and effort of FTEs in training temps for their roles, hire more of them as FTEs. Stop abusing the legal loopholes regarding the use of contingent workers so you can deny benefits to these workers. As the largest (in terms of endowment) private foundation in the world, you can spend a little more to hire more FTEs (instead of temps, whose morale is low) so you foster a sense of commitment and loyalty. Happier workers equal more productivity, greater output and dedication. Get the message!

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Massive egos get in the way of the mission

    Senior Communications Officer (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsWorked on an amazing, cross-disciplinary agile team of very smart individuals. Lots of opportunities for learning. Experience looked great on a resume.

    ConsMassive egos get in the way of the wonderful mission. Back-stabbing co-workers fight and claw their way to the top. Employees are paralysed when it comes to decision making.

    Advice to Senior ManagementValue all of your employees, not just the ones who make the most noise. Provide opportunities for growth throughout the org.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • Culture & Values
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    4 people found this helpful  

    Culture is intense. Mission is inspirational. Benefits are awesome!

    Business Analyst (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    Pros- You will never lose your job because of the economy
    - You will be around the most passionate, intelligent, and dedicated people on the planet
    - The benefits are incredible especially if you have a family

    Cons- You will likely lose your job because of burnout or a random reorganization
    - Consultants will probably get the roles you want. If you're working in supporting the mission outside of the grant-making process (such as in IT, Finance, HR etc), you will feel a little left out from the grantee-facing work
    - Culture is highly political and heroic efforts are expected. Sometimes, you will wonder whether better planning could have prevented the heroic efforts

    Advice to Senior ManagementEnjoy the job while you can. If you can make it past the five year mark, you deserve a standing ovation along with the cool gift. Being a manager at the foundation is probably the toughest job you will ever love

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • Approves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Very inspiring mission!

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsSmart, passionate co-workers who strive to be a part of changing the world for the better.
    Challenging work, but the outcomes for people in need are very rewarding.
    CEO has reshaped the organization to significantly improve the culture.

    ConsCo-chairs can create an environment with "fear of judgment", limiting the dialogue necessary for risk-taking.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThe trend line on improving the culture is positive -- accelerate the momentum.

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

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    9 people found this helpful  

    You'll be glad your year is up.

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsHuge projects with relatively inexhaustible budgets. Unique intersection of academia and commerce. Highly diverse. Lots of smart people. Young people. Excited people. Beautiful building, very comfortable to work in.

    ConsThe glamour will wear off, make no mistake.

    I worked here for a year in a temp support role. It was possibly the most demoralizing place I've ever worked. Highly dysfunctional management only gives voice to the most aggressive stakeholders. An environment that practically encourages backbiting and extreme competitiveness. Very little respect for support staff whom they churn and burn, and shed no tears in the act. Most support staff have BA/BS. Many have MA/MS degrees. These are not slackers who took an easy path in life. But they are treated like they are subhuman. Physically segregated from the teams they support. Planted out in the open, clustered around library study carrels with no privacy or ability to close off and do some work. You hear everyone eat, chew, talk on their phone, stifle their coughs. It's awful.

    Working with program staff is much like working with a petulant, genius child. One who hasn't had the life experience to understand how unreasonably they are behaving. But never gets told no by management. Very chilly people who are hard to make inroads with. You will definitely be sized you up to see if you are worth their career. Just an uncomfortable mix of people, and it didn't get better after a year.

    Organizationally a mess. Constant turn over in staff. In one year I saw 5 program officers leave in rapid succession. Don't even ask about the support staff. They are like throwaway people to this place. The foundation skirts ethical limits by using temps, but only for one year to avoid breaking state law. The nature of these "temporary positions" is in no way temporary. You're doing core work. Getting yelled at. Being held responsible for millions of dollars. Tackling an intractable bureaucracy. These jobs don't go away after a season, or because someone vacates them. They are refreshed every 12 months with a new soul who just wants a job and thinks it would be pretty cool to work at the Gates Foundation. Run as fast as you can.

    There are nonstop refreshes, updates, renaming, change for change's sake. A stated goal to "reduce complexity" somehow manifests into more and more databases and steps and processes for doing very simple tasks. Investment Workflow is a nightmare. Gateway is a nightmare. If you don't get it, then the problem is you. Not the over-engineered process pulling from four databases that requires multiple teams to keep running and updating and refreshing and starting from scratch in 6 months. Your brain will be sore after 2 months.

    If you take an assignment here, you will no doubt

    Advice to Senior ManagementMaybe rethink the whole philanthropy thing. And the management thing. And the "contingent" staff thing. And the awful culture thing.

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

    • Career Opportunities

     

    Very satisfying.

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    Pros1) Passion, 2) Expertise 3) Mentorship 4) Projects

    ConsHectic lifestyle, not as much creative freedom.

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    • Approves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    good foundation, great mission, questionable internal politics

    IT Engineer (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsGreat 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.

    ConsBizarre 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 Senior ManagementGet 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.

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

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    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    12 people found this helpful  

    Management skills are still problematic

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    Pros- Feeling like you are trying to do good in this world
    - Amazing depth of experiences and knowledge in your coworkers
    - People you meet are impressed with your employer
    - (for some) Great opportunities to travel, meet other influential people, etc.
    - (for some) Great professional development opportunities

    Cons-Read the other reviews in Glassdoor - the management problem is still a problem. They hire people for knowledge or connections, and then expect them to manage human beings. They then don't reprimand managers who have high turn-over underneath them, or who have multiple complaints to HR about them. Usually, they end up promoting the bad managers.
    - HR exists only to protect upper-level echelon management. Do not expect them to assist in workplace conflict, to respond quickly or at all in cases of abuse, or to guide in professional development. If you complain or ask for guidance, you will be seen as a problem and there will be a 'performance' issue in your future.
    - There's a lot of 'good job!' to your face, and then finding out from your manager that there was a problem with your work. Not that your manager can tell you exactly what that problem was or how to improve, just that your work is unsatisfactory and you need to do better. It hasn't happened to me (yet), but I've seen multiple junior level officers go through this.
    - If you are anything lower than an SPO, you are treated as completely unimportant, despite those roles being the major workhorses on the team. It is acceptable behavior for senior management to scream and belittle PAs and PCs (don't bother going to HR about it) and for SPOs to 'forget' how to do basic tasks like print documents.
    - Diversity? It can be hard to find. Upper management is dominated by whites, mostly by men. Some teams (including some that would surprise you) are almost completely white, with only the support staff being of color. Hidden diversity can be even more difficult, although the home office is very accepting of GLTBQ.
    - Over-reliance on consultants, including those who are grossly overpaid. They build knowledge and take it outside of the foundation, and are working for their own benefit, not for ours. Plus, some of the managers who hire them are easily dazzled by academic soft-shoeing - they could hire graduate students to do the same work and pay them 30K per year.
    - It's hard to trust your coworkers or your team. You never know when you will be reassigned or a coworker will be let go...or if you'll be the one to be let go next. It's hard to stay invested in a project or a team when you know that you could show up to work tomorrow and be told that your portfolio is now being covered by someone else...with no explanation.

    Advice to Senior ManagementRespect all human lives - including your employees. Treat management personnel issues as important - management ineptitude results in lost work-efficiency and turnover costs the foundation money (yes, it would be cheaper in both short & long run to replace the problem manager than to keep replacing staff). Invest in HR improvements - it is currently considered to be the secret police of the foundation; aka, no one trusts them. Particularly when they are 'investigating' a bad annual survey. When you've seen the track record of people being let go because they reported management issues, do you really think that people want to identify themselves from an anonymous survey?

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    7 people found this helpful  

    Inconsistent and work against each other

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsBenefits are great. The Campus is beautiful.

    ConsNo one seems to care where the buck stops. It is very silo'd and decisions are made in teams or departments and likely are duplicated elsewhere leading to overly complicated processes and waste.

    Advice to Senior ManagementAccountability is key. People should not re-create operations positions in the programs.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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