Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  www.gatesfoundation.org
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated August 13, 2014
Updated August 13, 2014
121 Reviews

3.3
121 Reviews
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Susan Desmond-Hellmann
1 Rating

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

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Very satisfying.

    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

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

    Cons

    Hectic lifestyle, not as much creative freedom.

  2. 7 people found this helpful  

    Inconsistent and work against each other

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

    Pros

    Benefits are great. The Campus is beautiful.

    Cons

    No 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 ManagementAdvice

    Accountability is key. People should not re-create operations positions in the programs.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 12 people found this helpful  

    Management skills are still problematic

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

    Respect 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?

    Doesn't Recommend
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Life changing

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA

    Pros

    Great place to work with the best mission of any org always challenging. You learn more about yourself and the world working there. Fantastic people

    Cons

    Lot of politics; lots of Type A personalities

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6. 8 people found this helpful  

    Invaluable experience at a failed organization, especially early in career

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

    Pros

    - Great mission; big audacious goals
    - Incredible campus right near downtown
    - Many informal opportunities for learning, such as lunch and learn (esp. across silos)
    - Very good cafeteria
    - Great benefits and retirement package
    - Robust culture that keeps you on your toes
    - Many lessons learned about working with difficult people in a very politically complex environment (see cons)

    Cons

    I've received invaluable experience; learning how to not manage an organization. If management education programs are about giving you the tools to successfully manage an organization, the foundation abounds with lessons from the other side of the coin.

    Valuable learning in:

    - Sustaining a culture of distrust and animosity both between teams and between layers in the chain of command
    - Spending billions on foreign investments with little to no accountability
    - Selecting inappropriate technology solutions and rolling them out improperly
    - Engaging external consultants at a very high price while not setting value expectations
    - The risks of putting HR in charge of managing an organization's people with no checks and balances

    The foundation is a total shipwreck, but shipwrecks are valuable warnings to others so they may navigate a safer course.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Not too much here.

    I write that because leadership frequently solicits unvarnished feedback on the work and our environment, receives it, then promptly discards it.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    Good mission, great benefits.

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

    Pros

    The mission you support is excellent as are the benefits.

    Cons

    The salaries are little low and advancement isn't really possible.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO
  8. 4 people found this helpful  

    It is a very different place from the organization that I started working at

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

    Pros

    No matter where in the organization, you feel like you are part of something that is intent on making changes from next door to all over the world.
    Location is near South Lake Union, right next to Seattle Center so you are near lots of activities.
    Good food onsite.
    Open working environment with the technology to back it up.
    I have a lot of great memories there.

    Cons

    Silo'd Teams, a great deal of opportunity for improvement in communication departments.
    As the size has grown larger, the culture has changed, politicking is what gets you ahead instead of whether you are moving the team ahead.
    Risk is equated with bad, things are said to encourage it but...
    Hiring from outside is the norm, once you are in.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 5 people found this helpful  

    Toxic, hypocritical organization

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Analyst  in  Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Analyst in Seattle, WA

    Pros

    good salary, some good friends, interesting projects, helping people globally - not much else I can say. Oh yes, nice campus, but the "security" people are absolutely suffocating and arrogant.

    Cons

    horrid management, game playing, toxic/incompetent management, WAY too many contractors that create undue pressure and a revolving door, competitive environment where people stab each other in the back and get away with it, the worst HR team on the planet. SO glad I'm gone from this place. The only thing that kept me there was the money/benefits, but I just nailed a role with someone else making more. Nice... Can't wait to recruit the good people way from this toxic organization.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    fire yourselves! You contribute nothing and you only take. You're spoiled brats and wouldn't amount anything if you couldn't use the "Gates" name. You're clueless as to how to manage people and career growth. Your talk absolutely does NOT match your walk in any way, shape or form.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 5 people found this helpful  

    Toxic culture and managers prevent contributing consistently towards worthwhile foundation mission

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

    Pros

    Adding BMGF name to your resume
    Beautiful campus
    Competitive pay and benefits

    Cons

    Subject matter experts with no previous people-managing experience consistently given supervisory roles over teams. This lack of leadership experience (and yes folks, leading is different than managing) coupled with the elitist, politically deceitful and purposeful back-stabbing of colleagues, team-members and consultants results in a perfect-storm of toxicity and dehumanizing behavior. Shamefully, you'll find this behavior not only tolerated, but rewarded and enabled at the cost of rapid mass exodus from toxic teams. Is upper management really unable to discern that the problem is the so-called leader placed over these teams?

    Witnessing borderline abusive and demoralizing approaches with employees, contingent workers(who truly are treated as sub-human at times) and consultants with no accountability, for years now, is stomach-churning, at best.

    HR team is liken to the foundation's personal mafia. Do NOT engage this department unless you are prepared to be targeted next. Sadly, our team has watched multiple highly skilled, accomplished, capable team members fall wayside to their procedure "siding with upper management to create 'performance issues' for employees who seek their guidance or bring legitimate grievances to their attention". Not safe! The revolving doors in teams across the foundation are testament to this.

    The amazing work-life balance others report is solely dependent upon the team you land in and the manager you have. For many, expect to work 60+ hours, with direction to report anything over 40 hours as overtime, then prepare to defend your "level of efficiency" as a thank-you for your hard work.

    If you are seeking employment here, be sure to conduct your due-diligence about the specific reputation, practices, and managing principles of your potential team. This may make or break your entire experience.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Implement transparent 360 reviews for any people managers with a method that protects the input-providers, if you care to know the truth about the good, bad and ugly team dynamics. Then, support your worker base by firing inept and toxic managers and replacing them with experienced people managers who seek to serve their teams, enhance the unity with other teams and best serve the foundation's mission.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 4 people found this helpful  

    It's better than you've heard

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Associate Program Officer  in  Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Associate Program Officer in Seattle, WA

    Pros

    Working at the Gates Foundation provides an opportunity to be on the leading edge of work in your field with very smart colleagues, generous salary / benefits, and immense resources. People are, by and large, there because they're passionate about what they're doing. The Foundation is working very consciously to improve both their external and internal reputation. The connections you make while working there will take your career in amazing directions.

    Cons

    Seattle culture infiltrates the Foundation. There's a lot of talking and there can be annoying turf issues. Expensive outside consultants are used too often and consultant-speak unintelligible to normal humans is ubiquitous (e.g. "boil the ocean", "surface learnings", "convening"). It is a family foundation, too, which means that an extraordinary amount of energy and time are devoted to getting and keeping the "co-chairs" engaged in your work. If they don't get or agree with the direction of where you're going, it doesn't happen. There is a definite bias toward technology solutions, even where they aren't appropriate. And it is easily the most narcissistic place I have ever worked. "Tell us more about us! Tell us how bad we are! We want your open and honest feedback!" My biggest frustration is the lack of internal mentors or conscious career development. That and "the matrix"-- which alludes to the number of people you need to involve in anything you do. It's been humbling. Know that it is not a "dream job".

    The best way to get there is to be great at what you do in your field. I ignore anyone who hits me up on LinkedIn because they've "always wanted to work at the Foundation!". That starts happening a lot once you begin working there.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in a formal alumni network. Focus on career development, knowing that you are building a powerful force for change even beyond your employees' tenure at the Foundation. (Career development is not the same thing as professional development.)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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