Development Alternatives

  www.dai.com
  www.dai.com
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Development Alternatives Reviews

Updated September 9, 2014
Updated September 9, 2014
31 Reviews
3.5
31 Reviews
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James Boomgard
12 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Very creative, friendly workplace

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

    I have been working at Development Alternatives

    Pros

    Mentorship, professional development opportunities, travel,

    Cons

    office in bethesda rather than downtown, sometimes knowledge management and management systems can be too clunky/convoluted.

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

    A great company in an increasingly challenging sector....

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Management  in  Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Management in Bethesda, MD

    I have been working at Development Alternatives full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Over its 43 year history DAI has always tried to make a difference in the world through its projects, be a great place to work, and be a successful business that responds to the requirements of its customers and stakeholders. Generally, the company has succeeded in achieving its goals. DAI has always been led by development professionals, not professional business leaders. We have elected to try our best and err on the side of good development rather than good business. In spite of a rough couple of years in the USAID market (increased focused on compliance and audit; declining market size; confusion of development and post-war reconstruction; and, noise about private sectors contractors), DAI has remained USAID's top implementing partner (ask to see DAI's survey of customers). DAI has also been actively working -- with some success -- to diversify its US government business and become a valued partner to DFID, the European Commission, private companies, and local governments.

    Cons

    The field of development, particularly in Washington, D.C., has changed. There is more competition; there are more "experts" writing about development; and, there are more "politics" to the field than ever before. The world has also changed -- there is more capacity in the countries where DAI works than ever before. These changes (among others) are putting pressure on all of the actors in the development field. Some companies are being forced to reduce headcount and benefits and others are accelerating staff turnover to keep down labor costs. Nonetheless, in my view, there remain real opportunities for entrepreneurial, smart, geographically mobile individuals who wish to feel good about the work they do every (or almost every) day. There are lots of nuts and bolts that go into delivering international technical assistance, so most entry-level job seekers will be doing some of these mundane tasks. Read job descriptions carefully. But, patience and drive, is generally rewarded!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Managers at all levels need to work on being good managers!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Opportunities abound

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD

    I have been working at Development Alternatives

    Pros

    travel, relatively good salaries for the development field. employees have to be aggressive in seeking out opportunities, but they are always there for the ones who try hard.

    Cons

    HR has been slow to respond to most insurance-related matters

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    project coordinators are more important than what they're given credit for

    Recommends
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  5.  

    Great place to work, learn and advance

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

    I have been working at Development Alternatives

    Pros

    Great Enviornment
    Highest Ethical Standards
    Great people
    Good pay and benefits

    Cons

    nothing in particular It is a really good place to work

    Recommends
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Does impressive development work, greatly values its employees

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD

    I have been working at Development Alternatives

    Pros

    Amazing technical staff, extremely friendly work environment, good employee benefits, good morale. Senior level staff very open to development of junior staff.

    Cons

    Have to pay your dues before moving on to what you would really love to do (from admin to technical work).

    Recommends
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    DAI - A great place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD

    I have been working at Development Alternatives

    Pros

    DAI is a leader in USAID-funded international development, has strong technical expertise, and increasingly good project management. As an employee-owned company, there is a sense of shared ownership and responsibility--and a sense that employees do have some influence over the direction of the company and the work environment. In comparison with it's largest competitor, Chemonics, DAI has a great benefits package and a good work-life balance (partly because DAI bids more selectively). I have worked at several companies and organizations in international development and DAI is where I want to stay.

    Cons

    The downsides are minor, but occasionally I do find that--in the name of ongoing improvement--DAI actually makes a step backward by discarding things that work.

    As part of DAI's performance-based evaluation approach, there needs to be consequences when people do not perform--particularly when someone puts the company at risk.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Improving staffing in the field is critical--particularly in project management and finance. If these individuals are not performing, there needs to be accountability. I know the home office is working on this, but I consider this one of our major risk areas.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    Great!

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

    I worked at Development Alternatives as an intern for more than a year

    Pros

    Exposure to the most interesting people i've met in development

    Cons

    Hierarchy is evident. The interaction between departments isn't as strong as it could be.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There should be more interaction between departments. In addition they could add more ways to have good employees stay.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Organization committed to developing countries and to maintaining a community

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

    I worked at Development Alternatives as a contractor for more than 3 years

    Pros

    People are committed to each other and genuinely try to work toward common goals. Home office project management staff are very supportive of field staff. I have worked in many organizations with home office and field staff and this organization does it the best.

    Cons

    Because the organization is so tied to its big governmental clients, it can be overly political. It feels like the organization keeps trying to reinvent itself and it has growing pains.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Management by consensus isn't always the answer. There are strong managers who are capable of making decisions independently, let them.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    A relatively good place to enter the world of international development

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD

    I have been working at Development Alternatives full-time

    Pros

    The company is staffed by good people who are truly committed to the mission of the company. No matter who strapped for resources the teams are, they usually manage to pull it out in the end.

    Cons

    1. Compensation - there are salary bands and the median of each band represents the industry standard. The stated policy to managers every year when they are making salary recommendations is to keep people below the median. Not cool.
    2. Too much investment in Afghanistan projects. The way that junior staff were practically forced into agreeing to travel to Afghanistan - I repeatedly witnessed managers making determination about junior staff members' capabilities based on whether or not they were enthusiastic about being expected to travel to Afghanistan for months at a time.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop treating project management as if it is separate from technical implementation. On your government contracts that you are hired to implement, you are expected to not only achieve the technical aims, but to do so without stepping out of the government's lines. So treating the administrative management and compliance like an afterthought that the high and mighty technical experts can ignore and push off on to an understaffed administrative and compliance team is not necessarily a good idea. Every member of a project team in the home office and in the field has a responsibility towards project management and until you hold them accountable for audit findings or unallowable determinations, they will continue.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11.  

    Good learning experience

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

    I worked at Development Alternatives full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    I had great, supportive co-workers who were always willing to problem solve together. It was a great learning experience during which I was able to travel to three different countries and witness program implementation first hand.

    Cons

    There were times that it felt like it was impossible to progress beyond the administrative level.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in the highly motivated, young staff members who are dedicated to the mission. Help them advance.

    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO

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