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1 person found this helpful  

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

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

I have been working at Development Alternatives full-time for 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 ManagementAdvice

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

Recommends
Neutral Outlook
Approves of CEO

Other Reviews for Development Alternatives

  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Interesting company going through a lot of change

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Consultant  in  Bethesda, MD
    Former Employee - Consultant in Bethesda, MD

    I worked at Development Alternatives as a contractor

    Pros

    DAI implements some very innovative, high-impact projects throughout the world. It has left an impressive imprint on the field of agricultural development in particular. Technical staff aren't too overworked, and are paid well. Employees are extremely intelligent and professional.

    Cons

    Working on the technical side in Bethesda could mean you spend 90% of your time writing USAID proposals, which is a great skill but can get old quickly if you are looking to diversify your skill set (and it can start to feel like a "sales" job). Project management staff face limited career mobility. There also seems to be a fair amount of nepotism in the company, as several divisions have multiple workers who are also siblings, etc. There seems to be a very limited understanding across the company of M&E, which could become more of an issue as development donors are becoming increasingly results-oriented. Finally, the company is adjusting to more limited funding opportunities from USAID by altering its business model and diversifying its portfolio - there's a lot of risk in this strategy (the company's entire business model is based on winning USAID contracts), so it's hard to tell how it will all play out, and depends on incredibly capable executive leadership.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    None really - best of luck!

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
  2.  

    Good people but company is struggling to find its way

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

    I have been working at Development Alternatives full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Good people but direction of the company is questionable
    The people are really nice to work with and they have good in-house technical knowledge. Benefits are average to above average. There are opportunities for growth due to the size of the organization. Improved management systems.

    Cons

    It may be a product of success but growth has created a distance between Sr. management and the rest of the company as well as a disconnect between departments.

    There is constant competition for interesting work and people that have it tend to hoard. Jr. staff are undervalued and Sr. staff are overpaid. Too many chiefs syndrome but nobody is willing to budge. Stark divide between 'technical' and 'project management' areas.

    Company culture is to coddle senior project staff as long as they win new business even if it is toxic to the operations. This is often at the expense of supporting staff who often are treated as expendable.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Transparency! It is very difficult to know what is really going on behind the scenes. Senior management seems disconnected from the rest of the company.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
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