Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

www.gatesfoundation.org
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17 people found this helpful  

Useful observations for people considering a job at the foundation

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Financial Manager in Seattle, WA
Current Employee - Financial Manager in Seattle, WA

I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (more than a year)

Pros

• It is a fast-paced and constantly evolving place. If you don’t enjoy being an active part of a changing environment or dealing with uncertainty, this can be a stressful place. If you thrive in dynamic environments, you will find lots of opportunity to shape how the organization does business.
• The foundation is in a lucky situation to attract highly capable people. If you used to be the top performer on your team in your prior job, don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly surrounded by people who are equally smart, dedicated and high performing. It is up to you whether you choose to check your ego at the door and get excited about working with such a peer group or whether you get intimidated and feel like others are out-shining you. Contrary to some other comments, I haven’t seen much backstabbing going on, but I can imagine that some people used to feel more exceptional before joining the foundation and end up interpreting their new environment as less friendly than it really is.
• The diversity of people’s careers is impressive – many have deep scientific backgrounds, others are business people or have worked in policy-related jobs. The workforce is very international, though it would be good to continue to grow the share of people coming from developing countries. Having the openness and flexibility to work effectively with a broad spectrum of people is crucial for someone to enjoy working at the foundation.
• There is a substantial amount of bureaucracy involved in the foundation’s work, and given the incredible number and size of investments that are being made every year, this is no surprise (for comparison, think about a corporate procurement department that processes $3-4bn in contracts every year, many of which go to overseas organizations and involve complex issues such as IP, clinical trials, etc.). The foundation’s business processes are maturing continuously and I’ve seen considerable progress since I joined. To be frank, working here is not all about inventing new ways to save kids in Africa, it is also about doing the necessary due diligence and paperwork that goes into making responsible long-term investments.
• I got a sense that manager effectiveness and career development were not prioritized in the foundation’s early years. In the last couple of years, however, we’ve seen strong awareness of these topics among senior management, accompanied by very concrete steps taken to address them. The foundation is moving gradually toward a mature business that figures out how to manage its talent more effectively. I’ve been very satisfied with my superiors since I joined, but can understand that others were perhaps less lucky and found themselves working for a boss whose strengths were in vaccine science and not people management.
• Benefits are excellent. Pay is very good for a non-profit, though it may be higher in the private sector for certain job profiles. However, if these are important factors in your decision to work for the foundation, you should probably ask yourself if you really belong here.

Cons

See under PROs
Many aspects of working at the foundation have a positive and a negative side. I attempted to explain in a balanced way and posted them above.
Personally, I am very satisfied with my job at the foundation and would say that the pros clearly outweigh the cons.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Continue the process of maturing the organization and recognize that changes need time to settle before benefits occur. Too much change can exhaust and confuse people while taking away valuable bandwidth for interaction with partners. Keep focusing on manager effectiveness when hiring and promoting. Try to create more space for people to work on exciting projects outside the hierarchy (Google’s 20% time could be an inspiration for this) and avoid unproductive second-guessing by senior management. Review the role and contributions of consultants and contractors to spend money more effectively and reduce dependency on non-foundation staff for critical activities.

Recommends
Positive Outlook
Approves of CEO

118 Other Employee Reviews for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (View Most Recent)

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Excellent experience, the environment is dynamic and challenging

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great colleagues, challenging environment, important issues. It is a very unique place to work -- great opportunities, the chance to be entrepreneurial, and to push for positive change. The diversity of the issues is also unique and creates an opportunity to learn from other areas.

    Cons

    Growing quickly, increasingly corporate and more process.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 3 people found this helpful  

    Sad experience for workers, great for the world.

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

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The belief that you can change the world is great and they have the money to back it.

    Cons

    Do not expect to be treated as an equal. The sense of entitlement just because you work at the foundation runs rampant, which is a little unsettling.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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