Chemonics International Reviews

Updated July 12, 2015
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107 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    One size does not fit all, and it's entirely up to you to adapt and conform.

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

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    All kinds of different people, from different backgrounds. A decent amount of diversity. By getting involved in Practices, able to learn about different areas of interest, and meet experts from those fields.

    Cons

    One of the largest problems is communication: how, when, to and from whom is information communicated. On-boarding process was not smooth - including not explaining definition of roles, responsibilities, managers and supervisors. First few weeks seemed frenetic, chaotic, and disorganized - and that's par for the course. Timelines regarding expectations (both from the manager and subordinate) are not clearly set - including how long it should take to reach a certain level of independence or ownership on tasks. PMU work is highly administrative. This is discussed at length prior to joining the company, but opportunities for technical engagement are few and far between. Engagement in technical areas requires participation in New Business opportunities in addition to existing tasks, which lends to little work/life balance.

    Advice to Management

    The sense of transparency and open-doors sometimes seems like a facade. If a lower-level person has a real concern to voice, the right structures are not necessarily in place to enable communication and protect that person.


  2. Helpful (6)

    Good for entry-level jobs; then leave

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Project Manager in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Project Manager in Washington, DC

    I worked at Chemonics International

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

    Pros

    You get to travel to some fantastic places, but only if you work in a regional--rather than a support--unit. It's a great way to see the world and travel, but do not fall in love with project management, new business, or support position rolls. Instead, use this organization to go someplace else.

    Cons

    Chemonics is one of those companies that keeps falling but never hits rock bottom. The management--especially the executive management--is white male dominated even though the rank-and-file is not. The company doesn't manage itself well: financial management is terrible, innovation is nil, and HR is a joke. Also the pay is terrible. This is a company that hires people with top-level grad degrees and has them process expense reports or timesheets. Let me be clear: you aren't actually doing development; you're just supporting the people who do. So don't get fooled into believing that you'll use your MPH to fight AIDS or your M.Ed to teach children in Ghana what to do. Take your degree elsewhere.

    Advice to Management

    You really need to find a better way to top into your employees' intelligence. Someone with Peace Corps experience and a masters shouldn't be a PMU manager: you should reserve those positions for folks without ambition or the interest in development.


  3. Great company

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Associate in Washington, DC

    I worked at Chemonics International full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Great intl development training/entry level organization. Good opportunities to travel

    Cons

    High pressure, long hours. Lots of mundane work early on.


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  5. Great place to start a career

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Manager in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Manager in Washington, DC

    I worked at Chemonics International full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Passionate people, great systems, exciting work that challenges you to grow

    Cons

    Work/life balance can be tough, c-suite is not always transparent, bottom line sometimes compromises the work

    Advice to Management

    Keep giving your staff the right incentives to continue their outstanding work


  6. Helpful (2)

    Good place to learn and great people

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

    I worked at Chemonics International full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Chemonics has excellent project management systems in place which are helpful on the job and useful to be exposed to whether you stay in government contracting or go on into something else. On top of that the company has fantastic employees and it's generally easy to get along with your colleagues. While not immune by any stretch to the standard drive of the contracting world to spend out the budget, nearly all the staff are genuinely motivated to ensure the projects are both successful and impactful,

    Cons

    A lot of the younger employees have a tendency to get blindsided here. Chemonics will routinely throw new and relatively unqualified people into roles that require some level of sophistication and experience with the company, and it is important to remember that even if you are not set up for success your reputation will suffer if you don't end up doing well. This company has its problems. If you work here you will hear about and/or discuss them endlessly, but if you know what you want to get out of the experience and are able to take ownership of any tasks you take on, it's as good a launching platform as there is in this industry.

    Advice to Management

    Promoting from within is great but relying on it exclusively seems to be preventing the company from making a lot of the same mistakes.


  7. Helpful (3)

    Oh, Chemonics

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    You're like a deeply flawed lover. "I'll try harder, I promise. I don't want to hurt you." Sure, sure you don't. Sometimes, I wonder if you even know what you're doing. You seem to know the right people. But aren't the top dogs a little...too focused on themselves and their posse? Oh we're not hoodwinked. Most of us. We know.

    Cons

    As stated many times, work/life balance. It exists for people who already have children, yes.

    Advice to Management

    An organizational development specialist consultant firm should be brought in.


  8. Helpful (2)

    Not a place where your time and efforts will be valued

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

    I worked at Chemonics International full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Great hands on experience, direct exposure to the client, name reputation carries on throughout the development community

    Cons

    Absolutely no work-life balance, management does not value high-performing employees, incredible rates of turnover because of this. The try to do everything approach is not an effective way to operate business.

    Advice to Management

    Learn to value your employees before they put in their resignation. Also work still needs to be done for the salaries to be competitive.


  9. Helpful (5)

    Good company but doesn't know how to retain talent

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

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time

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

    Pros

    Good opportunities, good training programs, good mentorship programs, opportunity to move around within the company, plenty of travel opportunities.

    Cons

    Departments, divisions and regions are running too independently from each other and thus the culture, promotion opportunities, etc. is decided by very few people and up to individual preferences. HR has very little say in terms of enforcing consistency across the company and ensuring people who are "favorites" actually are qualified for promotion or senior staff are not given undue flexibility. This results in: - SVPs (themselves inexperienced and having benefited from the lack of standards for promotion or HR oversight) doing whatever they want - promoting buddies and those that go to happy hour with them - Experienced, dynamic, multi-lingual, multi-talented mid-level managers leaving the company - Useless staff hanging on for dear life to their positions for 15, 20, 25 years - many in support divisions, when they have neither the motivation, dynamism, skills (have B.A.s and no language skills and have never worked anywhere else) to really contribute. They work from home several days a week, show up to claim other people's work once in a while, and are just dead weight for the company as they take home huge salaries in the process and don't contribute accordingly to new business or anything else. - On the other hand, kids with 5 years of experience or less, or no other professional experience getting arbitrarily promoted to key senior positions (like new business) with no idea what they are doing - this frustrates qualified staff and results in the company loosing strong people.

    Advice to Management

    Figure out your management structure! Inexperienced staff in key jobs or old timers who have lost all motivation and spend their time relying on their managers' work for huge salaries is not the way to go. Invest in highly motivated, capable, multi-lingual staff who bring industry experience. It's really a shame to let these people bring the company down.


  10. Helpful (1)

    Hardworking creates great potential for growth

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

    I worked at Chemonics International

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    great learning environment, infectious passion, people really believe in work they are doing

    Cons

    long hours, more consideration of work/life balance


  11. Helpful (10)

    Best education in international development and more

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Chemonics offers the best education in international development project management and business development in the industry - hands down. The company's competitors regularly - and begrudgingly - hire current and former staff because they know Chemonics employees are versatile and well trained. Chemonics offers a fast-paced, youthful, and collegial environment where everyone is encouraged to learn and staff are given the opportunity to try almost every aspect of the company’s work. It also offers ample opportunities to travel overseas, so the work is never mundane for long. During my tenure at the company, I have held several different positions, worked in multiple divisions, traveled to dozens of fascinating countries, and lived overseas long-term. As in any company, one’s supervisor has a major influence on job satisfaction, but at the end of the day your job is what you make of it and Chemonics offers many internal job opportunities, so most motivated and talented employees can get out from under a poor supervisor. It is true that the recent levelling-off of funding for international development has hit Chemonics and the international development industry hard, resulting in staffing reductions, slower growth even today, and fewer promotion or job opportunities than in the period from 2005-2010 when funding for development sky-rocketed. But, what was once a smorgasbord of opportunity is now more akin to the environment when I joined and the reality in many other industries in the U.S. It is worth maintaining perspective – there are few companies in the U.S. where you can do more good and see more of the developing world than at a company like Chemonics. Also, in response to the recent comments of a former employee who posted that they thought Chemonics was "the most unethical company in DC" and that it "lives by cheating its main client, USAID", I must say that have worked at Chemonics for more than a decade, as an associate, manager, and director, in the home office and overseas, and I can state without reservations that this is categorically untrue. My experience is that Chemonics’ upper management and nearly all its employees strive to be ethical at all times. Keep in mind that Chemonics as a company and its employees work in some of the most corrupt and hostile environments in the world - so ethical dilemmas with government counterparts, local subcontractors, beneficiaries and stakeholders, etc. happen all the time. With that context in mind, I think Chemonics' track record of excellent client service speaks for itself. The systems at Chemonics, the government's regulatory structures and environment, and the never-ending audits make it not only difficult to "cheat" and get away with it, there are clear disincentives for even trying. One only need to look at the demise of AED to see that being unethical does not pay. I will also add, that in my many years at Chemonics no one has ever asked me directly or indirectly to do something that I thought was unethical or was "cheating" our client. Lastly, the reviewer’s comment suggesting that directors ask associates to falsify timesheets is surprising because anyone who has worked at Chemonics knows that associates rarely bill their time directly to clients and when they do it is always approved in advance by the client and then followed by submission of pre-determined deliverables for client approval. This makes it highly improbable, if not nearly impossible, for any employee, even if directed, to falsify a timesheet.

    Cons

    Work-life balance is a perennial challenge and improvements could be made, but if current or prospective employees are looking for a consistent 9-5 job then they should probably look elsewhere - Chemonics is not the place for people who are not willing to either work very efficiently or put in extra hours when the job demands it – which is often. Every company has some staff who are poor supervisors, where Chemonics' can continue to improve is in its systems for identifying and addressing senior staff (executives and directors especially) with poor personnel management skills. This could include providing staff with everything from regular and timely feedback, to leadership training, to re-assignments, or, in the worst cases, to termination. Recent improvements to the performance evaluation system, including biannual reviews for all staff focused on the organization’s values and the first ever 360 degree anonymous performance reviews for executive management, are a really good start.

    Advice to Management

    Pay matters. Last year's salary adjustment was a step in the right direction, but more should be done to bring associate and manager compensation in line with the industry and the cost of living in DC. Continue improving the performance management systems and culture, particularly for senior staff and executives because poor leadership and bad personnel management are the biggest drains on productivity, creativity, morale, and retention of talent. The world is changing. Invest in the future. USAID is a fantastic client in many ways, but its overall budget has plateaued, funding for traditional development organizations (for-profit and non-profit) is shrinking, and resources are shifting to new partners – especially local but others as well. The long-term growth of the company and health of the ESOP (beyond payment of the debt) will not happen as a USAID-only contractor. Get creative and invest strategically in new opportunities that could pay dividends in the future with new clients and with USAID too. Be more thoughtful about who gets promoted to senior levels – director and executive. Not everyone is able to be promoted to those levels so when someone does get promoted to a senior level it says volumes to junior staff about the skills, attitude, values, and experiences the company values. A strength can also be a weakness. Chemonics' promote-from-within model and culture has many benefits, but it also has its limits. Not every position in the company can be adequately staffed from internal resources. Hire new blood and talent, especially at the director level (and for some executive roles) to bring new ideas and networks and to challenge old assumptions.



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