Cengage Learning

  www.cengage.com
  www.cengage.com
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8 people found this helpful  

Started off with promise; ended amidst uncertainty

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Marketing Manager in Belmont, CA
Former Employee - Marketing Manager in Belmont, CA

I worked at Cengage Learning full-time (more than 3 years)

Pros

The best reason to work at Cengage is - hands down - the people that work there. The higher ed publishing industry is full of good people and Cengage is no exception. You'll find a lot of professionalism and forward thinking departments and initiatives, all coming from people who you want to work with each day. I particularly enjoyed interaction with the authors I worked with and enjoyed their insights into academic disciplines I left behind years ago. There's nothing wrong with keeping one foot in academia and one in business. I found that to be quite fun.

There are a lot of career opportunities as well. I switched departments, moved up, moved sideways, then up again back in my original department. Vacation and benefits are some of the most generous around. The company takes care of their employees and offers a lot of training programs during company time.

Cons

The entire industry is in the middle of a massive transition from print to digital and Cengage is on the forefront with their technology, but I fear upper management still doesn't quite understand the core customer base as well as they should. Outdated pricing models continue to cause backlash in the dwindling print market (which is still where most of the profit comes from) and cash-strapped educational institutions, luddite professors, and tech savvy students are a brutal combination to market towards. I fear that the models Cengage has set up for the future won't overcome the struggles the industry faces. Also, there's the private equity ownership situation, which is causing undue stresses within the company, taking away from what should be the core focus of providing students with affordable, quality course materials.

Regarding work/life balance, I found there to be a major discrepancy between departments. The work never ends in some departments and there is too much emphasis on working at night and on the weekends. One becomes the black sheep if they tend to leave at 5pm and not work at night. It's easy to fall behind. Furthermore, the cycles don't change from year-to-year. It's tough to repeat the same tasks year in and year out without much change or reward. Burn-out central. Also, it's publishing, the pay is low, but if you are in marketing or sales, you might get a generous yearly bonus depending on performance.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

If Cengage is going to survive, it needs to become less bloated and more focused on digital innovation. I understand that this is the focus now, but the model needs drastic change if it's going to keep up with the smaller, more nimble competitors who are offering more affordable and adoptable products.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
No opinion of CEO

443 Other Employee Reviews for Cengage Learning (View Most Recent)

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  1. 11 people found this helpful  

    Low Pay, Constant Reorgs and Layoffs, VERY cliquey

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Editorial Assistant in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Editorial Assistant in Boston, MA

    I worked at Cengage Learning full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    There are some genuinely good people who work there and some managers do try to keep up employee morale. There's an effort at creating social events but most who go leave very shortly after they get their free food and drinks.

    Okay benefits that keep decreasing a little each year(standard for industry, so 70% of insurance is company paid and 30% is out of pocket)

    Cons

    First, it's in a horrible location in South Boston! There's almost nothing around and no one ever knows how to get there.

    No cohesion within units. Cengage was made from a lot of mergers with smaller publishers and everyone has their own practices and rules. They're trying to create a brand name but no one in the industry knows who Cengage is.

    So much debt! They're in a lot of debt and they keep throwing away money on products that fail instead of giving money to the departments and products that deserve it.

    The pay is dismal. "Raises" are less than 2% and have only occurred once in the three years I worked there. Managers justify the low salary while simultaneously throwing away money on lavish dinners, conferences, and trips.

    Higher management punishes anyone who doesn't follow the "seen but not heard" rule. If you speak up, you become an outcast. They want people who are too afraid too ask for better pay or benefits or change in the office. Higher management wants to be worshiped and labels anyone who comes up with a unique idea of legitimate criticism as a troublemaker. HR is no help since the moment you come to them for advice, they're running off to tattle to the managers. It's a very poisonous environment.

    In the past year they've had THREE reorgs and have laid off a large number of people. There's supposedly a hiring freeze, yet they created nice cushy middle management positions and keep hiring top level positions. There's very little room for advancement at the bottom levels and they outright tell you that you have to stay there for 5 to 10 years before you can move beyond entry level and make a livable wage....as long as you kiss up to the managers. Right now there are so many open positions and when I left, most employees were doing the jobs of two or three people for no extra pay. If you worked overtime, forget about getting money! If you complained about the workload, watch out or people are going to start saying that you're a troublemaker.

    The company had potential years ago when the industry was good but it's all gone downhill and it's become a den of snakes. The previous CEO was decent, but the new one, Hansen, has been worse and worse. In the past few months he's fired a lot of longtime employees in order to bring in his friends from his previous company. Other managers have begun to do the same.

    This might be an okay place if you're looking to get a year or two of publishing experience, but it's not a place to make a career unless you enjoy being treated poorly.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pay people a livable wage. Salaries that are less than $25K after taxes are not reasonable. Don't punish people for bringing up legitimate salary, workload, and environment complaints. You can't expect to have a good morale and happy employees if you punish anyone with a personality.

    Create some cohesion and stop hiding things from the company. We knows we're not in a good state, but it doesn't look good when you tell us we don't get a pay raise or can't hire employees to fill holes but higher management keeps getting promoted.

    Listen to the employees who know the market!

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 7 people found this helpful  

    Happy to be gone!

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

    I worked at Cengage Learning full-time

    Pros

    Worked with and for some great people. Good time off and benefits. Flex time.

    Cons

    After 2009, things deteriorated quickly. No leadership, inept middle managers were put in charge. They hadn't done a good job managing at the level they had been at, much less to run the company after all of the C-Levels were let go in a day. Inevitable spiral. HR staff ineffective and bitter. Don't ever go to them with a real problem. Certainly not if it's about your manager. Their solution is to immediately run to the manager that is the problem in the first place and tell them.

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