Chemonics International

  www.chemonics.com
  www.chemonics.com

Chemonics International Reviews

Updated November 20, 2014
Updated November 20, 2014
96 Reviews
3.3
96 Reviews
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Susanna Mudge
30 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Excellent training, professional development opportunities, and opportunities for travel and overseas assignments (in 12 reviews)

  • Some good opportunities to travel, decent training in project management, and a somewhat collegial environment (in 11 reviews)


Cons
  • Work life balance is an issue at Chemonics (in 18 reviews)

  • long hours, more consideration of work/life balance (in 13 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Chemomics is a great place to start a career in development... and then return after leaving...

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

    I worked at Chemonics International full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    A ton of opportunities (new business travel, project management experience), good training programs and room to move between regions and projects. Great people and interesting work.

    Cons

    Eventually the lower level work becomes too basic. You can feel discounted from actual development and instead feel like an accountant or a editor. But there are always field opportunities.
    Difficult once you've been there a few years and made manager to move to director.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find a way to keep talented managers. Better pay for associates means better quality of project management.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 3 people found this helpful  

    Very long hours, little pay, and company senior leadership unwilling to change approaches

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

    I worked at Chemonics International full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    You can learn great project management skills and there are lots of opportunities to travel. Associates and managers are pretty young and fun to hang out with, people generally are very hard-working and smart.

    Cons

    Even employees with a master's and several years of work experience need to start at the bottom of the totem pole unless they have direct experience in international development. I had come to Chemonics with a master's and seven years of work experience (including experience related to program management and coordination), but because it wasn't at an international development firm, I had to start as an entry-level associate at a starting salary of $40,000. I took the job, though, because I really wanted to work in international development and had been job-searching for about 8 months at this point. I rarely to never worked less than 9 hours per day, but many times as much as 12 hours, and sometimes up to 15 hours a day when working on a live proposal or when a project was in crisis mode. I think one of the most frustrating things is the way senior leadership decides to invest its employees' time with a "bid on everything" approach while not taking into account the company's actual chances of winning. This approach requires employees to pour an extremely large amount of time into something that is not likely to materialize. It burns people out. Also, the company went through a complete restructuring in late 2011, which ended up hurting the company. If the executive leadership had only consulted with associates, managers, and even directors about this poor choice, the company could be doing better. It seemed very hypocritical that an international development firm espousing the idea of bottom-up development failed to involve its members in such a big decision.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Value employees' opinions more instead of brushing them under the rug.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Rules and regs, not development

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

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Good place for an ambitious, go-getter, generalist to start their career in USAID contract management. Lots of opportunities for learning-on-your feet and taking on new tasks.

    Cons

    Bad place to hone specific skills, advance technical knowledge, or apply gain quality experience of what its like to carry out good development in the field. If you don't fit in to a certain personality type to succeed, you'll most likely get chewed up and spit out in a couple years.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in building technical expertise and research at all levels of the company.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Provides good project management experience, but extremely heavy on the administrative tasks

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

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The staff is friendly, outgoing, dedicated and helpful. Professionalism is held to a high standard and there is an excellent set of process maps in place to help guide daily tasks. This is a good place to learn the ins and outs of project management. There is the ability to move around the company (though more laterally than vertically) and change positions. The physical office is designed well with large work spaces. There can be exciting and unique opportunities to work abroad in development.

    Cons

    Daily project management tasks are highly administrative for both associates and managers alike with little or no opportunity for technical work. With budget cuts and the current USAID funding, there are fewer opportunities for associates and managers to be sent to the field on assignment. The job can be highly demanding and stressful, especially when adding new business proposal work to an already full schedule. The primary focus is on profits and backlog, and little time is spent on monitoring and evaluation and focusing on technical excellence. With the company continuing to downsize and yearly salary increases frozen, the general work atmosphere isn't too optimistic.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Bring more technical focus back to the company so Chemonics can retain technical experts rather than constantly relying on consultants. Be more selective with proposal applications rather than applying to 95% of RFPs so the company can be even more strategic about managing resources.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great people in a difficult environment

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

    I worked at Chemonics International full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Smart, hard-working colleagues who want to succeed and will do whatever it takes to get their jobs done.

    Cons

    Leadership that isn't supportive of their employees or willing to empower those who work for them
    The "Chemonics way" must be employed even if it is ineffective

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Utilize the amazing employees you have in manager and associate positions. Help directors and vice presidents get the leadership training they need to really empower those who report to them. See small mistakes as opportunities to learn and create a culture that allows for new ideas.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 6 people found this helpful  

    Once a paradigm of development, now a husk of its former self

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

    I worked at Chemonics International full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    - Great exposure to government contracting and consulting
    - Opportunity to participate in advanced roles to build your career, particularly in business development
    - Tremendous travel opportunities, including short-term and long-term assignments
    - Relatively young workforce
    - Good trainings on government compliance, communications, and business-specific roles. Chemonics training is certainly unparalleled
    - Relative focus on client satisfaction
    - Great exposure to a range of technical areas and services
    - Great location!

    Cons

    Success at Chemonics is not contingent on an enabling work environment. Rather, I believe your success is tethered to the exposure you get through your project and project manager. Once the company was a pleasure to work at but in the last year and a half it has been reduced to a shell of its former self. Much of the talent the company had has left by this point, including many critical individuals (Chemonics disbanded their compliance department - given that they are a government contractor, it seems silly to push compliance expertise towards individuals who have had no prior experience or interest in government compliance..especially for high value contract decisions). The company does not do a good job in fostering career growth for individuals - you are required to prove yourself by dealing with issues and problems which arise in your project, but if you have a fairly smooth-running team then you will not get the necessary exposure to grow your career. If your manager is useless, they will use your inexperience as a shield to cover their own mistakes. Individuals will exploit your weaknesses for their own personal agendas, and this behavior seems to have become more of a norm rather than an exception. I've noticed that your perceived achievements are seldom remembered but your perceived mistakes will mar your career from beginning to end (however, sometimes it will also work the other way around).

    I also believe the company also has a tendency to promote "favorites" so that the higher ups can perpetuate the status quo. I don't think you'll find many companies where many senior managers/executive team members lack advanced degrees. Furthermore, individual incompetence is protected by people with close relationships to the higher-ups. There are a close-knit group of powerful individuals at Chemonics with a lot of political mobility to make decisions on their own, including who gets a promotion and when, despite a candidate's inexperience in a given arena. Cut-throat corporatism, nepotism and questionable decisions abound resulting in slimmer opportunities for career growth. Work-life balance is also notoriously bad, and most employees take issue with what they refer to as the "Chempire."

    Chemonics set inconceivably high sales targets in order to launch a largely unsuccessful "employee stock ownership program." This ESOP initiative is partially to blame for the companies recent hemorrhaging of money, and I am not confident that Chemonics will regain its prior position as a competitive implementer of USAID projects. Recent corporate reshuffling will undoubtedly affect the company's ability to implement projects, and I think over time the company will become a "generalist" implementer of smaller projects than the juggernaut it once was and hopes to still be.

    Lip service is paid to successful development, although I will concede that there is less pressure towards billability than at some competitors. As a result of Chemonics' recent failures, pressure has diverted towards winning new business - but there are evident flaws in the company's approach to business development and project implementation which may be rooted in the managerial failings of the company. Not to mention the gutting of its home-office technical expertise.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The company's dismissal of important divisions - particularly practice specialists (gender, health, d&g, etc) - will result in Chemonics becoming a generalist implementer. As a result of gutting the technical talent, Chemonics is less likely to win high-value bids and will continue to win lower-value ones until technical expertise can be restored. Chemonics needs to look objectively at what their actual value proposition, and it is not in the implementation of technically complex projects. This also means that the company should stop targeting 100% of USAID RFPs because it leads to market saturation and causes the company to come across as bellicose in an industry that is supposedly humanitarian/altruistic. Looking toward other clients is also useful, but this is an expensive approach as Chemonics would have to buy the expertise. Your best bet is to temper your new business expectations, focus on sales, and, unfortunately, allow employee contracts to expire when projects end - with a decent severance package. That is the tough bottom-line you'll need to save the company, rather than walking people to the door when the opportunity arises.

    I would start looking towards creating a more merit-based approach and designing concrete milestones for career advancement at Chemonics. You have a lot of talent that goes to waste, and a lot of people who appear to do more work than they do. I understand the difficulty in this current climate, but the company needs to create a more fostering environment for employee career growth rather than relying on the adage that "Chemonics is a sink or swim place."

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    nice colleagues and working environment

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

    I worked at Chemonics International as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    excellent training courses for employees

    Cons

    no complete internship programs available

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Period of transition

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

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Overall good work environment, despite current challenges.

    Cons

    External and internal factors have placed the company in a precarious position, particularly relative to the heydays.
    Used to be the case that unpleasant, aggressive people were by far the exception. Lately, that seems to be changing, and I fear that bad behavior being rewarded is a theme.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    For the most part, I admire how you handled the last wave of departures/restructuring--offering choice of a job in other areas or a (so-so) goodbye package--giving employees enough notice that to continue in their line of work, they might want to start looking--seemed not at all underhanded or malevolent. Treating people with respect and objectivity is sure to be the best thing for Chemonics' reputation. Please don't stray from that, as people are starting to hear may be the case.

    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Lots of chances to learn and grow

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Chemonics International

    Pros

    Saw lots of flexibility in the kinds of work people can choose to do. lots of training opportunities. People are friendly and willing to help.

    Cons

    can be stressful sometimes when you work on proposal teams.

  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    good not great

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time

    Pros

    great people to work with, hire within culture good

    Cons

    overworked, understaffed which results in mediocre work

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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