Chemonics International Reviews

Updated August 27, 2015
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3.6
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Susanna Mudge
21 Ratings

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

  • You can learn great project management skills and there are lots of opportunities to travel (in 11 reviews)

Cons
  • Poor work/life balance as a result (in 20 reviews)

  • Long hours; income stream is not diversified so it is subject to fluxes in USAID funding; beginning pay is low (but that changes within a year or two) (in 13 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

65 Employee Reviews

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  1. Great work translates to growth

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

    Pros

    Chemonics has mastered how to carry out large scale international development and global health projects effectively. They invest heavily in strong systems, and hire smart, creative people to carry out the work. Over many years, they have built up a reputation for outstanding performance with great development impact and consistently high scores on contractor performance reports. Teams across the company work together well, and think boldly about how to solve the world's biggest challenges like food security, health, education, environment, and poverty. This formula has proven successful again and again, and Chemonics continues to experience strong growth as successful projects translate into winning proposals and growth, which provides opportunities for staff. The policy of investing in professional development and promoting internally whenever possible leads to a strong, well-trained workforce and a long pipeline of future leaders. The company is 100% owned by employees through an ESOP, so all profits flow to an employee retirement plan.

    Cons

    People at Chemonics are driven by the mission and work hard. You have to know when to say no and protect your work/life balance by not taking on too many challenging assignments.

    Advice to Management

    You're doing a great job. Bold thinking and sound investments led to expanding our work in global health and education. Keep investing in technical capacity and systems as we grow, and keep hiring bright, dedicated people at both the entry level and experienced professionals.


  2. It is a great work place if you can handle stress well.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Manager in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Manager in Washington, DC
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    The company offers a lot of opportunities to learn about federal contracting. It employs one of the brightest individuals in DC area. It offers opportunity to feel confident since you learn a lot and you learn quickly. Chemonics offers plenty of trips for associates and managers although it takes a while for associates to start travelling (you have to work extremely hard to get an assignment). The company allows everyone to take part in their new business, which provides additional opportunity for associates and manages to be involved in various aspects of the business.

    Cons

    Since it is very hard to become a manager or go out on an billable assignments (which means a client pays for it), the company creates a tough and competing environment. Some people thrive on it but most of us do get a lot of stress, sleepless nights and eventually sickness. You do work a lot at Chemonics. Sometimes you have to stay till 8-9pm to finish your work. As I said it is hard to grow in the company. For an associate to become a manager or for a manager to become a director, one has to be constantly involved in new business, or additional initiatives which essentially means you have to work 10-12 hours a day. So you if you have a family and your family is demanding it is not a right place for you. But if you are a single or maybe married but willing to put 60 hrs a week (without messing up your relationship) and eager to know and learn about federal contract s- this is the place to be.


  3. Helpful (2)

    Good industry experience, but know when to get out

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program Manager in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Program Manager in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend

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

    Pros

    You learn USAID programs and proposal development better than anyone else can teach you in the industry. Great travel opportunities across all levels and plenty of opportunities to gain new skills from proposal management to program management. If you're pro-active and demonstrate business savvy, you can go far here.

    Cons

    They only work with USAID as a donor so you become a one-trick pony with regards to international donor experience. The company doesn't do talent retention so recognize quickly if you're one of the golden children who has a senior level Director willing to take you under their wing. If not, get the experience you need and go elsewhere for higher pay and better title. Some people are able to identify the opportunities they want and take advantage of them and other times your supervisor or manager will micro-manage the opportunities you are able to take on. Again, recognize which category you fall into and plan accordingly. If you're an Associate or Manager who's not getting the opportunities you need or want within two years, leave.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    development machine

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Management Associate in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Project Management Associate in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    working with passionate and talented people in a large and successful company that provides opportunity for professional development and growth. to be as large as it is, they run an honest business and seem to believe in what they do

    Cons

    work/life can be difficult. you are expected to work late, even if it's not said out loud. it can be difficult to advocate for yourself and even more difficult to say "no" when you're overworked. Finding mentors can be difficult as well

    Advice to Management

    provide more streamlined management guidelines since they vary by division and person, making it much easier to move up in some sectors of the company than others.


  6. Great place to start.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Provides plenty of learning opportunities. Pays decent for an internship. Free coffee.

    Cons

    The company is very large and one can get lost in the crowd.

    Advice to Management

    Provide a struture for possible advancement of interns.


  7. Helpful (3)

    Great place to start working in int'l development

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

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

    Pros

    Great training and professional development program Good program and support system for entry level employees Opportunity to move to different positions throughout the company Lots of travel if one is on a project management unit (PMU)

    Cons

    Feel like a second class citizen if one is not on a project management unit or working on proposals No support for people who come in at a manager level Competitiveness among junior PMU staff is rough.


  8. Helpful (1)

    Good entry level job

    • 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 (More than a year)

    Pros

    good place from which to launch a career in international development as there is potential to gain experience in thematic and geographical areas in which you're interested.

    Cons

    The work as an Associate is glorified administration work. Not intellectually challenging in the slightest. This was the reason I ultimately got bored and left.


  9. Helpful (6)

    Some good, some bad, always interesting

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Human Resources Manager in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Human Resources Manager in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Chemonics International full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Great learning opportunities, and some of the most hard-working, intelligent, dedicated employees out there! I was very luck to work on a number of great teams at Chemonics. Chemonics is willing to take a chance on people and to help them develop. Opportunities may not always be handed to you on a silver platter, but if you seek them out and advocate for yourself they are usually there. The ESOP! Chemonics is 100% ESOP owned, so current and former employees benefit from the success of the company. There have been some bumps in the road since becoming 100% ESOP, but in the long run I do not doubt that it will be positive. And I'm keeping my shares. Benefits are significantly better than average. Chemonics is committed to providing an affordable health insurance option, and goes well beyond that. The employee cost is a fraction of what it is at most comparable companies. Other benefits, including disability and life coverage, are as good if not better than most. And Chemonics does a good job making sure that staff traveling for the company have multiple layers of coverage.

    Cons

    Supervisor may or may not advocate for you. If not, it can be very difficult to make any progress up the professional ladder. I had a few truly awful supervisors during my time at Chemonics and chose to ride it out each time because the "pros" (namely having a paycheck during the recession) made it worth it. Compensation is not where it should be. This is an acknowledged issue and a plan is in place to continue to work on it. However, until salaries are in line with the market Chemonics will continue to lose staff at the Manager level. Work-life balance is an ongoing issue for many staff. I was able to rely on my team to cover for me when I had family issues to attend to, but I was very lucky in this respect. Employees are expected to work long hours and to always be available to take on extra work. Saying "no" is not usually an option if you are given a big project. Sometimes it is sold as an opportunity, but it is never really rewarded. Maybe if you put in 3 or 4 80-hour weeks in a row you'll get a comp day, which is almost more insulting than having your hard work completely ignored. Too much emphasis on RBUs and being an "international development professional", lack of recognition for specialized skills in support units like HR, Finance, and IT. Systems need a lot of work. I found that I sometimes did not have the very basic information needed to do my job. This is closely related to how decentralized the company is. A lot of HR information is held by the local field offices, which does not work when some benefits are managed by the corporate DC office! There needs to be a major overhaul and centralization of record-keeping functions. Yes, it would be a lot of expense and work up front, but it would be a huge improvement in the long run.

    Advice to Management

    Don't forget support units - sometimes I felt like we played second fiddle to the RBUs and support staff were not as valued as they should have been. Continue the trend of increasing transparency and realistic discussion of corporate issues (a big change from the 2010 to 2012 years where problems were consistently downplayed or hand-waived). Please invest in some real system and process improvements, not just patches. It is vital to the happiness of your HR and IT groups, and will also go a long way in maintaining compliance for the next time the DOL and IRS come sniffing around.


  10. Helpful (7)

    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
    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.


  11. 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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    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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