Development Alternatives Reviews

Updated August 14, 2015
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3.6
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James Boomgard
22 Ratings

Pros
  • Work-life balance is talked of but not respected (in 3 reviews)

  • Amazing technical staff, extremely friendly work environment, good employee benefits, good morale (in 3 reviews)

Cons
  • The mission is about making money at Home Office (in 2 reviews)

  • Base salaries for junior and mid-level professionals is low (in 2 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

50 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    DAI - A great place to work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


  2. Helpful (1)

    Does impressive development work, greatly values its employees

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

    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).


  3. Opportunities abound

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

    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 Management

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


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Helpful (1)

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

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Management in Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Management in Bethesda, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Development Alternatives full-time (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 Management

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


  6. Very creative, friendly workplace

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Mentorship, professional development opportunities, travel,

    Cons

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


  7. Been here 10 years never yet found a reason to look elsewhere

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

    I have been working at Development Alternatives full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Ethically uncompromising. Forward thinking. Technically outstanding and committed to getting the work right in the field. Great people, enjoyable workplace. Flexible managers. Opportunities for professional growth.

    Cons

    Industry in transition -- has put pressure on resources. Health benefits good but employee costs up a lot in recent years.


  8. Operations Managers

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Operations Manager in Bethesda, MD
    Former Employee - Operations Manager in Bethesda, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Fantastic mentorship and collaboration with colleagues if you seek it out; great opportunities to seek meaningful work overseas.

    Cons

    Home office compensation is not great; satisfaction is often linked to the quality of USAID colleagues with whom you work overseas - to the extent you have a collaborative counterpart at USAID, the satisfaction can be off the charts, otherwise it can be very difficult.


  9. Helpful (1)

    Great Imployer

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

    Pros

    Working for DAI provides a great experience in terns of economic development where you will get the chance to meet with key players in the market exchange experience leading to both industrial and economic development.

    Cons

    Project are usually on a 5 years basis and offer very limited room for progress.


  10. Top employer

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Development Alternatives full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Family oriented environment. Executive team that cares about employees and doing business with integrity. Everyone is encouraged to share opinions openly, even on Glassdoor - not just supportive opinions. A lot of employees return to jobs at DAI after leaving, so that speaks well of the company.

    Cons

    Tight resources. Lots of good ideas, but not time to implement them all.

    Advice to Management

    Help negative employees leave the company.


  11. Great place to work, learn and advance

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

    Pros

    Great Enviornment Highest Ethical Standards Great people Good pay and benefits

    Cons

    nothing in particular It is a really good place to work



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