Chemonics International

  www.chemonics.com
  www.chemonics.com

Chemonics International Reviews in Washington, DC

Updated August 21, 2014
Updated August 21, 2014
93 Reviews
3.4
93 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
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Susanna Mudge
28 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

53 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Great place to grow, to a point

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

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

    Pros

    There are many opportunities for professional development within the regional business units and you will get exposure to every major element of development project management within a few years.

    Cons

    Opaque decision making processes. Bizarre corporate culture which invests in individual professional development but systemically refuses to value its employees' value-add, resulting in significant attrition at the mid-levels of management.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus on retain of your managers.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Positive change has been inadequate

    • 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 an year)

    Pros

    High energy
    Not oppressive, generally
    Opportunities to do some interesting stuff
    Some good people, mostly pretty smart (intellectually at least)

    Cons

    Cliques/favoritism, starting at the top. A top executive might be terribly abusive to his/her people, and then the person they spoke to about it is best buddies with that person. Mediocre talent might be approved for working full time from a non-DC location--if they have the right in.
    Lip service paid to "values" -- there are some terrible humans getting away with appalling treatment of others.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    See above.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 4 people found this helpful  

    Best education in international development and more

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

    I have been working at Chemonics International full-time

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Strong training base for USAID project management

    • 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

    Chemonics offers a strong training program for USAID project management, regulations, proposals. There is a fairly young workforce which translates to many social events, new people to meet, and a pretty dynamic atmosphere. There are travel opportunities at all levels, which is not true for many of the same companies in D.C.

    Cons

    Compensation and salary increases are hard to get and arbitrary. Competitive environment and frustrating when opportunities are not equitably given based on technical or regional expertise, but rather, tenure and favoritism. There is a lot of talk about work/ilfe balance but it does not really exist.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 3 people found this helpful  

    Surprised that they still win contracts from USAID

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

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

    Pros

    If you are a director or senior manager, you can make a lot money off USAID 's ignorance.

    Cons

    The most unethical company in DC. Lives by cheating its main client, USAID. If you google Chemonics + Finance/audit you see SIGAR audits and articles in the Atlantic showing how Chemonics take USAID's money while providing really poor services. Senior management makes sure that they are held blameless by making Associates and Managers do all the dirty work. If you are an Associate, your Director will never tell you to falsify your timesheet, they will simply mention that the project need to "spend money" and if you are ethical you will not get promoted.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    At some point the game will be up. The company can't keep getting away with cheating USAID without them catching on. This is probably why senior management is paying undisclosed bonus to itself in order to get as much money as it can before the company goes bankrupt.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Love the energy and learning environment, but burnout happens fast.

    • 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 an year)

    Pros

    I agree with many other reviewers:
    Excellent training, professional development opportunities, and opportunities for travel and overseas assignments. Working with so many smart, talented, and interesting people made it a wonderful place to learn from colleagues and mentors. Outstanding systems and procedures, allowing for really efficient and high quality outputs.

    Cons

    Long hours and high stress for low pay and benefits, compared to competitors. Very cliquey (in some divisions more than others), type-A, competitive environment.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Chemonics has the best training in the industry, hands down, which is what makes it so great. If you are willing to invest so much in developing and training employees - why not invest in keeping them around? It makes no sense. Better benefits (401k match, annual raises, etc.) and more competitive salaries will go a long way in improving employee retention and morale.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    great place to start your career in international development

    • 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 5 years)

    Pros

    Lots of opportunities in project management, proposal development short- and long-term field assignments for people at all levels. If you demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals of project management and new business, you will have endless opportunities to take on challenging work. Smart, interesting colleagues with good intentions.

    Cons

    Workload can be overwhelming at times. The fact that Chemonics tries to do everything and be everywhere can be frustrating if you want to specialize in a specific technical area (since you will often be pulled in various directions). Senior management is mostly home-grown, they could use an injection of fresh perspective from someone who hasn't been with the company for as long and has worked at other organizations to see how they do business.

    My biggest frustration is that we don't have a deep bench of technical experts. We have a few who are absolutely stellar (and some in the field, which is great) but it would be good if we could retain more in the home office.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please hire and retain more technical experts, esp. in global health, food security, and agriculture.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Productive and challenging

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    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)

    Pros

    The company has strong systems in place that facilitates the management of projects and the procuring of new business.

    Cons

    Its focus is more oriented to a generalist approach pushing to get technical expertise from outside.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Incorporate more talent mamanagement strategies

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Amazing people, hard work, personally rewarding

    • 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

    The people at Chemonics are amazing - some of them are my close friends, and most of them are smart, talented, dedicated to development, and extremely hard-working. Everyone at Chemonics is there because of a commitment to development, and I think you can tell that as soon as you start talking to any of us. Chemonics has very clear, standardized systems for both proposal development and project management. These don't feel bureaucratic to me - they just provide clear guidance and help everyone understand how to do complicated and/or new tasks. Between these systems and the many excellent internal trainings, working at Chemonics is great preparation for doing pretty much any kind of proposal or project management work in development. The work is fast-paced and there are a lot of opportunities for lateral movements and to take on new/different work, as long as you're willing to work for and go after them. People respect each other on the basis of the quality of their work, not necessarily on the basis of seniority or hierarchy - which can be both good and bad.

    Cons

    The project management workload can be pretty intense, and the expectations for how much you'll take on aren't always reasonable. There's a fair amount of opportunity to move around and move up at the junior and mid-levels, but there's a ceiling at the senior manager level that's very difficult to break. That means that Chemonics is constantly losing some of its most valuable employees: the senior managers who have extensive experience with Chemonics systems and are eager to learn more and keep working hard, but won't stay at the company indefinitely without a promotion. The executive management can be a bit insular - the main qualification for an executive position tends to be tenure at Chemonics, regardless of actual experience in the development field. They're starting to pay more attention to the importance of strengthening the company's attention to technical/substantive issues, but they still prioritize project management and contractual compliance over allowing people to spend time enjoying the technical side of their projects.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    During difficult times, remember that even if we need to downsize, there are some employees you really want to keep - let them know they're important, and do what you can to make sure you retain the best people.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Fair, you need to stand up for yourself there are a lot of people who will throw you under the bus for their own agenda

    • 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

    If you want to be in development it is a good stepping stone

    Cons

    Lots of opportunity you just need to create your own path and find the people who you can trust

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Listen to all sides of the story from all employees and make decisions based on the entire truth. Do not make knee jerking assumptions

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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