Charles River Analytics Reviews

Updated May 23, 2015
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3.5
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Greg L Zacharias
12 Ratings

16 Employee Reviews

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  1. Scientist

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

    I have been working at Charles River Analytics full-time

    Pros

    Great people, nice benefits, good technology, interesting problems

    Cons

    Defense contractor so salaries are on the low side


  2. Helpful (1)

    More dysfunctional than not

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Charles River Analytics full-time

    Pros

    Competitive compensation and benefits, mostly. Generally friendly people who are helpful and ethical. Fascinating work at times. Autonomy, if you're looking for it. Some great travel opportunities. Company will bend over backwards to protect you if they like you

    Cons

    Annual bonuses, especially for engineers, are far behind par compared to other tech companies in the area. Work from home policy is inconsistent. It is regularly looked down upon, yet are a handful for whom exceptions are always made for. Work is disorganized and chaotic. The company overall does not supply project management so each business unit is expected to fend for themselves in terms of tracking if things get done. There's a monoculture. If you have the right personality type, the company will seem like a utopia. For the rest, you will find it difficult to get things done or communicate important information. No VP or Director of Technology. Engineers don't have any representation in senior management. There is a Chief Software Engineer role but it is unclear what that person does. Teamwork not emphasized. Company celebrates individual accomplishments over group achievements (the exception to this being public outreach or volunteer programs). Internally, your promotion, career track or publications are more important than company health and vitality. Managers at all levels appear to be inexperienced. Employees are distrustful that they can be relied upon to adequately solve problems that go beyond day to day concerns. Leaders of the company do not speak in one voice. Policies get interpreted differently based on who you talk to. Lack of cohesive vision for the company. Very academic feeling. There are times where it will feel like you are back in college rather than at a professional workplace.

    Advice to Management

    Senior Management needs to come out of the woodwork more and interact with the employees to instill trust that the ship is being steered correctly. The company, as a whole, needs to address policies that are inconsistently applied, lack of transparency at all levels of decision making, lack of unity towards a common goal and to audit that people are actually doing what they say.


  3. Technical Defense Contractor; interesting but not cutting edge

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Benefits package, and independent work

    Cons

    long hours, competing directions, pay/respect for non-software engineers is sub par.


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  5. A technically challenging and rewarding place to work.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Charles River Analytics full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    We work with some very bright people on a wide range of challenging & novel technical problems. Employees may wear many hats and gain valuable experience if they are willing to leave their comfort zone.

    Cons

    Charles River provides increased job security, environment, interesting problems, and benefits at the cost of below-average overall compensation.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work!


  6. More engineering, less management

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Charles River Analytics full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The biggest pro (and also biggest con) is the fact that nearly everyone at CRA is either an engineer or a scientist. If you come from a place that was overburdened with management, you might appreciate having less of it around. If you enjoy a lot of freedom to self direct yourself (and can actually do it productively), you'll also do well here. Other pros include total health care coverage (you don't pay a dime towards it), a nice profit-sharing retirement plan of 15% (once you meet the tenure threshold), and as I was leaving, they were transitioning the company to an employee owned company, where stocks of the company are allotted to employees which reside in your retirement account. You accumulate these stocks and when you retire, you cash them out. They also provide snacks, though on a somewhat "limited" basis. (i.e. the snacks are usually gone by Friday and don't get restocked until Monday; contrast to Google, where they stock so many snacks, food and beverages that you couldn't possibly deplete them, even if you were being shady and taking stuff home.) The culture is also a bit "younger" than some other places. This results in a faster pace environment and newer technologies being adopted very quickly. CRA is very supportive in helping employees learn new things, attending conferences, buying books and other resources, etc.

    Cons

    The biggest pro is also the biggest con, as without management, you see the lack of team building and structure that would normally be in place. If you're the kind of person who thrives in structured environments, you may not do well at CRA. Another some-what con is the profit sharing retirement plan tenure requirement. It requires that you work there for 1 year before it becomes active, and then, the deposit is only made into your account at the end of your 2nd year. So that's basically two full years without any company contributions to your retirement account. If you can get past that, then the 15% is pretty nice (no employee contribution required).


  7. Great place for pursuing new opportunities and defining your own success

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Charles River Analytics full-time

    Pros

    I enjoy working at Charles River Analytics because I make a real impact by doing work that I enjoy, I work on cutting-edge ideas and technologies, I have skilled and pleasant colleagues, and I am in control of my success and happiness. Working for a successful and growing company is rewarding on many levels. If you are thinking about working here, know that your input will make a difference. Even if you are at the beginning of your career, your ideas matter and will be listened to. Opportunities abound. Charles River Analytics is a growing company and is eager for people who can develop new business, advance technical offerings, and engage with customers. Entrepreneurial spirits thrive here, and innovative ideas flow freely. Much of what the company does is novel and pioneering. Employees are smart and proactive, and the company is good to its employees with excellent benefits and office life. Most teams are small, and there are many different projects with different customers happening concurrently. Employees are generally free to expand their horizons. Are you an engineer who wants to contribute to a research paper? Great! Have an idea to improve the work experience or enhance team collaboration? Do it! Your success is a function of what you put into your work and the value you create (this has always been true, but is even more true now that the company is employee-owned). If you find this empowering, you'll do well here.

    Cons

    Some of the “pros” could be "cons” to different people. Pro: You will define your own success here. Con: You will not be happy if you expect everything to be perfectly defined or provided to you. Pro: Engineers and scientists run the company, which is awesome in many ways. Con: Demands patience and recognition that effective leadership and project management skills may need to be learned and practiced on the job. Pro: We do a lot of different work. Con: We don’t have a single product like other companies this size, so we’re not all one big team focused on a single goal. Pro: We’re on the leading edge of prototyping innovative ideas. Con: Not all of these prototypes go past the prototype stage (although we’re good about code re-use), and if you happen to get a string of prototypes that don't move forward, it might feel demoralizing. Pro: Fast-growing company doing a lot of exciting work. Con: Some people can have too many irons in the fire, and if this isn't properly managed it can lead to team stress and heroic last-minute efforts. Bright side of the cons: People here are genuinely interested in growing and learning, and are generally open to feedback on ways to improve themselves and their work.

    Advice to Management

    The company has continued to grow in size, people, and project diversity. Great! The biggest challenge is going to be keeping up with the people side of the growth, and some of the skills that got us to this point may need to be exchanged for new skills to get us to the next point. Continue to ensure staff development in hard and soft skills (prioritized correctly against getting the work done), continue to ensure staff happiness, and continue to foster an effective organization that has minimal red tape.


  8. Values its people, Values its customers

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Charles River Analytics full-time

    Pros

    The company values its human capital (obviously its life blood) and provides for a very positive working environment that fosters creativity. The company leadership is completely committed to its customer base desiring to provide the best, most forward looking products/results possible and this focus is passed on to the professional staff.

    Cons

    Not really a "con", as I think most companies would love to be in this situation; but the company is conservative in its growth which results in hiring lagging workload. This means that all staff carry heavy workloads but also that there is no need to layoff staff based on revenue gaps.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to focus on cultivating both your people and your customers.


  9. Friendly, rewarding, and exciting

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Charles River Analytics full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Informed, highly technical staff and management: Seriously, the staff includes some of the smartest people I’ve ever been in a room with. Managers are technically savvy, so there aren’t just MBAs that have no clue what the projects are about. Feels like the next big idea could pop up in the office next door. Sometimes, it does. Rapid prototyping environment: Early prototypes are often created in weeks or months to test new, proof-of-concept designs. It is exciting to see the newest software concepts emerge so quickly into workable prototypes. Range of project subjects and types: Projects range from small research feasibility studies to large implemented systems. This makes for a ton of variety in the type of work to be done. Room to grow: Well defined avenues for personal growth are actively promoted by management. These include additional training and university degree support. Senior management is interested in employee experiences and growth; they remind and encourage often. Tons of support: Peers, managers, and dedicated support staff make sure you never are left out in the cold with technical or business questions. The range of expertise of the staff ensures they know something about your problem or know a world-class expert who does. Employee owned: It’s nice to own a piece of the pie and have a stake in the outcome of your work. Benefits: top notch Friendly environment: People are busy but they’ll make time to say hello, check-in, and help where they can.

    Cons

    Often requires self-direction: A lot of the work is self-directed, which could be an issue for people who don’t work well in that environment. Project futures can be uncertain: The nature of this type of work is that projects can be cut, downsized, or reorganized based on sales and the customer’s wishes. You usually know the decision points well in advance, but, if you like to know exactly what you will be working on in 5 years, that doesn’t usually happen here.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to grow.


  10. Helpful (2)

    Research and project oriented work place

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    If you're tired of corporate red tape or other bureaucratic issues interfering with your work, this may be the right place for you. Charles River Analytics is run almost entirely by the same engineers and scientists that are actually working on the projects. The few people who aren't engineers and scientists support them very well and work in human resources or finance.

    Cons

    The pros may be a downside for some - there is limited structure that spans the company's work since it's all focused on the individual projects. Having engineers and scientists filling the roles of people management can also lead to it's own set of quirks.


  11. Helpful (2)

    Tons of opportunities for growth, rewards for self-directed

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Work at a big company and wait 10 years for a promotion, or be a mentored entrepreneur and grow the kind of work you want to do? Lots of opportunities to do actual (applied) research and real development -- but with enough variety that you're never bored... esp. when you can help create the new work that you'd be doing!

    Cons

    Small business growing pains... the usual, but not such that it disrupts company culture... the company is run by the nerds, not by the MBAs, and that leads to occasional issues.

    Advice to Management

    Don't let those unsuccessful entrepreneurs play the "victim" and make you doubt the approach... keep empowering those who can learn to be successful.



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