There are newer employer reviews for Booz Allen Hamilton

32 people found this helpful

Once great company transforming itself into staff aug body shop but still trying to get away with charging premium rates

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Associate in McLean, VA
Former Employee - Associate in McLean, VA

I worked at Booz Allen Hamilton

Pros

Booz Allen used to be a fantastic company. I worked there for 5 years and when I joined, there was a tight knit nature to most the teams and a lot of interesting work. It was a culture of empowerment where managers would help staff grow professionally and lead tasks. It was recognized as being one of the best federal consultants, and some of this name recognition is still out there, you'll often run into someone who hears you worked there and has a positive impression of you if they don't realize the changes that have taken place there.

Cons

Promotions and rewards in Booz Allen have always been highly political, and those well connected to Partners and Principals are fast tracked above all others regardless of merit. I once heard Ralph Shrader speak and someone asked what he should do to get advanced in the company. Dr. Shrader then relayed the story of how he worked for previous fast risers in the organization, basically saying, "find out who is rising and hook your wagon to that person." This has always been true, but people stayed because even though there were those issues, the work was interesting, the people (most of them outside the partner and principal ranks anyway) really cared about their people.

Booz has never been known for being cheap, but they are known for being expensive to clients. How can this be? They lavish golf memberships and gigantic offices on a bunch of partners who are pretty much useless, and it drives the rates way up. That, and the fact that Carlyle pulled a leveraged buy out on us and we have billions of dollars in debt that must be serviced now. I left voluntarily for another job and got a fairly large pay increase, but my cost to my client actually went down! I'm still glad I worked there, but only because I got to experience the culture before the buy-out.

The company I joined was still privately held. It's hard to understate how radically, and how fast, the culture has changed into a bargain basement body shop interested only in big staff augmentation work. Sadly, the Carlyle takeover has pretty much ruined the place, and now they cut people at a moments notice (literally lay offs where people who have been working there for years are told to walk out the door that day like they are criminals). They talk about cutting dead weight but only months earlier they were hiring people like crazy. Everyone at the junior ranks was asking why they were going on a hiring binge called "Take Share" when we could all see that the Sr Associates and Principals couldn't keep the folks we had staffed effectively. But we were just told by our leadership that they knew what they were doing. Then they went and layed a bunch of those people off, along with a bunch of other good people that had worked there for years. Then leadership tells everyone that only the people who had performance problems got cut. Well I, and many others knew that this was not the case. In some cases yes, but in others, these were great people that just got caught out in the open without a task at the wrong time. Some of them were specifically asked to work on proposals and then got laid off (called a lack of work in Booz Allen speak). Well of course they don't have work when you ASK THEM to help with a proposal because you know they're a good writer.

Booz does something called "History Management" (our term for what they do - not an official term although the way the Firm trys to brand anything and everything, I wouldn't be surprised). This is the process by which the Booz leadership takes the course of action that it wants to take and then bashes the people that it lets go after they are gone. Or the process by which they say that things are only better now that we're a public company still owned by Carlyle. Maybe better for them, but hardly for the rank and file.

The saddest thing to me is that Booz still recruits new gullible folks out of college and retiring military folks with the handful of high impact work, much of which was done years ago before the culture changes into the mess it is now. They convince these people that they're going to be doing this high impact, meaningful work, and a lot of the time people give up real salary dollars from competing offers because they make it sound so attractive.Then they end up staffing these people in body shop contractor staff augmentation jobs, pay them little but charge the client a lot for their service. It's just wrong - it's selling people a bill of goods that no longer exists, and too many times people fall for it to their own financial detriment.

If you're reading this and considering joining BAH, I strongly encourage you to do your homework and talk to folks that DON'T have a vested interest in you joining Booz before you make a decision to take a position there. They do not look out for staff any longer, and under no circumstances should you ever leave money on the table from a competing offer to go to Booz based on "culture" or "exciting work" or anything like that.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

When I joined they still told the story in my intro course about how Booz Allen once went public, and it was a disaster, and that they'd never do it again. Fast forward just a couple years and Carlyle does a leveraged buy out and a couple more and now we're a public company. Booz used to be recognized as the crown jewel of federal consultants. After all the changes, I'd say Deloitte and IBM and even the "hated" SAIC are recognized as better organizations in problem solving and client service, with less tendency to bait and switch clients and more capability for delivery and care about their products.

My advice is solely to the management below the senior most partners, because its pretty obvious to the rank and file that the senior most partners don't care about the organization any more and are just trying to line their own pockets. So to the management that still does care about the organization, my advice is to try to buy back the Firm like you did the last time and reinstill some modicum of respect to the organization, because that's the only way that the downward slide will stop.

Doesn't Recommend
Disapproves of CEO
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  1. 16 people found this helpful

    Good for a two year layover; great for used car salesmen.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Associate in McLean, VA
    Current Employee - Associate in McLean, VA

    I have been working at Booz Allen Hamilton

    Pros

    -Flexible schedule depending on project and manager.
    -Good focus on corporate events and volunteering.
    -10% automatic employer 401K contribution.
    -Reasonable pay, but below competitors.

    Cons

    -No bonus for those below senior associates.
    -401K has a six to seven year vesting schedule.
    -Work can often turn into staff augmentation.
    -Can only advance beyond associate if you can sell business.
    -Main priority is selling business and not execution; literally no contract will be turned down, even if BAH does not have the staff to fill.
    -Level of competence varies drastically. But if you're military, you're in (because you bring your connection with you). If you know someone and are somewhat competent, you're in.
    -Senior leaders either don't know how to or forgot how to manage projects.
    -Little to no spirit of collaboration between division. Staff has varying levels of integrity (to put it gently).
    -Can't take significant others to Christmas parties.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    "Client service above all else." This seems like a foreign concept to you guys. How can BAH be making the same revenues as companies that have a quarter of the workforce? Why do we keep hiring when so many people are on the beach? Why do so few incoming people lack basic consulting and technical skills? So many questions...

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful

    Good place to work to get government exposure in a variety of areas

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Consultant in McLean, VA
    Current Employee - Consultant in McLean, VA

    I have been working at Booz Allen Hamilton

    Pros

    There is a $5,000 per year education package plus 401(k) contribution at 10% of your base salary. As a whole staff prides itself in being progressive with employment practices (i.e. work-life balance).

    Cons

    Compensation is slightly lower than competitors. Advancement and hiring levels can be capricious. Large company comes with process inflexibility / bureaucracy.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
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