Development Alternatives

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Development Alternatives Reviews

Updated Jul 8, 2014

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3.7 27 reviews

56% Approve of the CEO

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James Boomgard

(9 ratings)

74% of employees recommend this company to a friend
27 Employee Reviews
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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

     

    Very creative, friendly workplace

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsMentorship, professional development opportunities, travel,

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

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

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

    Management (Current Employee) Bethesda, MD

    ProsOver 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.

    ConsThe 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 Senior ManagementManagers at all levels need to work on being good managers!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
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    Opportunities abound

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Bethesda, MD

    Prostravel, 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.

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

    Advice to Senior Managementproject coordinators are more important than what they're given credit for

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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

     

    Great place to work, learn and advance

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsGreat Enviornment
    Highest Ethical Standards
    Great people
    Good pay and benefits

    Consnothing in particular It is a really good place to work

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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

    1 person found this helpful  

    Does impressive development work, greatly values its employees

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Bethesda, MD

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

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

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    DAI - A great place to work

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Bethesda, MD

    ProsDAI 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.

    ConsThe 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 Senior ManagementImproving 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.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    A relatively good place to enter the world of international development

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Bethesda, MD

    ProsThe 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.

    Cons1. 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 Senior ManagementStop 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.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    Good learning experience

    Senior Program Associate (Former Employee) Bethesda, MD

    ProsI 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.

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

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

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

     

    Very talented and knowledgeable professionals working in the international development scene.

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsVariety of programs and projects, from a diverse set of development sectors from education to governance.

    ConsA lot of competition and not enough leeway to work in the offices you desire.

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    Enjoyable Culture, but Trapped in Uninspiring Donor Marketplace

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Bethesda, MD

    Pros- Inspired staff
    - Ability to chart your own career path - just talk to your colleagues and managers who want to help you!
    - Relatively stable marketplace

    Cons- Out of touch executive leadership team
    - Creaky old systems that smell like a government contractor
    - 2013 re-organization was a mess with no light at the end of the tunnel

    Advice to Senior ManagementPlease hire some new blood. We need professionals who challenge big decisions, not the good ole boys club. The rest of the company is open-minded and invites criticism that will make all of our proposals and work stronger - that stops at the executive team level, where all of Boomgard's soldiers fall in line behind the dear leader.

    Lastly, don't just talk about being innovative -- show, don't tell, my friends.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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