IBM Research Reviews

Updated March 26, 2015
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3.2
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IBM Research CEO Virginia Rommety
Virginia Rommety
73 Ratings

64 Employee Reviews

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  1. Overall I was very satisfied with the challenges of the work and the Education Benefits provided.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Program Director, Research in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Program Director, Research in New York, NY

    I have been working at IBM Research full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    If you are on the correct project, working on very exciting leading edge technologies.

    Cons

    Having >400,000 employees and not growing top line revenue has made it tough for advancement in the last few years

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It was good they gave up on the 2015 roadmap, spend more time focusing on the top performers.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful

    Great balance and freedom.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Staff Member in Yorktown Heights, NY
    Current Employee - Research Staff Member in Yorktown Heights, NY

    I have been working at IBM Research full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Great work-life balance. Lots of working from home -- which is especially helpful for new parents or folks dealing with sick loved-ones. IBM shows a lot of trust in its researchers to choose their own problems and drive them. It also encourages collaboration with academia and it's a good way to get interns to come and work for you while staying on the cutting edge and relevant in the broader research community.

    Cons

    Lots of older IBMers don't get the way the world works today, and that's alarming. The notion that everything open source is winning and everyone wants everything "as a service" is a fairly new concept that hasn't entirely been accepted by all within research. With the research organization being so large there are people who just don't get how to do impactful research anymore. They're so focused on supporting the current busniess that they spend years without any significant publications and lose sight of what are the important problems that will prepare IBM to compete. There's almost a unethical drive to get more patents -- even for stuff we'll never build. In effect, IBM Research is the biggest patent troll there is. Also, the bonuses are *tiny* (around 1% for average performance and <10% for the best of the best performers). I don't know what it used to be like at IBM Research but it's obvious why the best people arrive, love the freedom, and then realize top-notch research will not be rewarded unless it makes it into products within a year. To make up for longer-term results, you have to write patents, since at least that does generate revenue for the division.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus on research. Perhaps even break up the research division into 2. One that focuses on more R than D and the other that focuses on more D than R. That would at least make the goals clearer and the incentives better defined.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful

    It was great until my whole project moved to China.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Systems Management Professional Advisory in Hawthorne, NY
    Current Employee - Systems Management Professional Advisory in Hawthorne, NY

    I have been working at IBM Research full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Nice work environment and good package.

    Cons

    Jobs are not secure. No Future. Hawthorne location is now closed and many IT jobs have gone to China.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Near-shore projects and keep the money in the US.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. Positive Experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Supplimental/Postdoctoral Position in Yorktown Heights, NY
    Former Employee - Supplimental/Postdoctoral Position in Yorktown Heights, NY

    I worked at IBM Research full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Excellent experience at the company where I learned quite a bit.

    Cons

    Large structure of management in a shrinking organization leaves few opportunities.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6. 4 people found this helpful

    Exciting world-class industrial research environment, marred by mediocre (or worse) treatment of employees by management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Staff Member in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Research Staff Member in New York, NY

    I have been working at IBM Research full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    * Exciting opportunity to collaborate with world-class researchers covering a broad array of disciplines, focused on
    solving real-world problems.
    * Expectations include publishing papers in high-quality venues, allowing one to maintain good contact (and possibly even collaborations) with academic community

    Cons

    * Employee evaluations based on a quota system that other companies like Microsoft have now abandoned because it has been proven to hurt employee morale; employees can receive low evaluations for excellent work, and incentives can thwart collaboration among employees
    * High-level corporate strategy of cutting way to growth seems wrong-headed and unsustainable, and has negative impact on Research including tight budgets and shortened time horizons for Research
    * High-level corporate budget-tightening has in some cases translated to less freedom in Research, with some managers treating their teams like military command-and-control organizations

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    * To the CEO and Board of Directors: How is cutting your way to growth working out for you? Not so well, according to IBM's financial results for the last many quarters running. You need to radically re-think your approach.
    * Follow the lead of Microsoft, and drop the quota system for employee evaluations. Human Resources needs to read the studies that show that evaluations systems of this nature hurt employee morale and create incentives for employees not to cooperate with one another.
    * Please realize that Research is not a military organization. High-level managers do not have all the good ideas. You need to listen to the ideas of researchers who report to you and be willing to do some work to creatively blend them with top-down directives.
    * Please realize that the most healthy and productive research environment is one in which researchers have some freedom to explore; to take chances on promising but uncertain projects. By and large, the tight budget and the quota system for employee evaluations seem to drive IBM Research management to punish failure much too harshly, and this naturally directs people towards doing safer, more incremental research.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  7. 5 people found this helpful

    How times have changed

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Yorktown Heights, NY
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Yorktown Heights, NY

    I have been working at IBM Research full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great work life balance. Management will accommodate you for your family need. Many years back, my wife suffered from a rare chronicle decease and required hospitalization and then home care. My manager basically allowed me working from home (and hospital) all the time while she we being treated and recovering from the illness. I really appreciate that. Furthermore, the base pay is very competitive here at IBM Research, although bonus is almost non-existent nowadays. Working atmosphere is very friendly and people are mostly nice and cooperative. If you are a female and at a child bearing age, IBM in general is very accommodating, even more so in IBM Research.

    Cons

    IBM as it is now is the antithesis of successful start-ups and their even more successful descendants (the like of Google, Facebook etc.) There is a lack of youthful energy here. More of us endeavor to try to save (or change depending who you talk to) the dying business model and only a few have the luxury of being given the space to be truly innovative. There is a great brain drain going on. Really smart people are quitting left and right to go the the aforementioned companies. For many of us, we are "Research" in name only. Sure we have the great "Watson" fame, but most of us toil on old IBM technologies and try to squeeze out one more drop of competitiveness out of the outdated systems and tools.
    While things here are going downhill slow motion style, the rank and file bear the most pains. We are supposed to "innovate" as managers consistently demand of us while themselves mostly doing pointless meetings and power-pointing. Yet our accomplishment is mostly determined by how much direct business impact our work creates. With this conflicting goals, we are really caught between a rock and a hard place. Unless you are a super star that can really balance the two, most of us just submit to the fact that our management can at any time put all the blame on us one way or the other, with nothing sticking to them.
    In general, I had my good times here. But this is the sad time now. Stay away.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    When the ship is going down, don't lock those of us who are going the real work in the cellar cabins and maybe we can help you save the ship from sinking.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. Working at IBM Research

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

    I worked at IBM Research full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great people! Very smart and inquisitive. Good cafeteria. Walking paths, nice campus. Interesting projects; part of a worldwide network.

    Cons

    Too much bureaucracy, limited budgets, excessive reporting. Management pressure increases every year.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do more basic research. Develop more ideas into products.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. Intern

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern in Yorktown Heights, NY
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern in Yorktown Heights, NY

    I worked at IBM Research as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    Very intellectual place. Friendly and helpful colleagues. I had a rewarding intern experience and learnt a lot both from the work and from the people.

    Cons

    Location is in the middle of nowhere. It's hard to get anywhere without a car and it is far away from public transportation.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful

    Lots of smart people, relevance and impact of research to company seems to be declining

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Yorktown Heights, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Yorktown Heights, NY

    I have been working at IBM Research full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    If you are in a group that is established in a relevant research area you can contribute to the field and have an opportunity to grow skills in that area. Some areas can contribute to products or interesting client facing engagements.

    Cons

    Very hard to move internally. Many areas fall behind or don't move as fast as technology in the environment outside IBM and skill sets become out of date. Path to transfer work to products is slow. Development of new technology for the company and new talent comes mostly through acquisition of other companies.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 3 people found this helpful

    Great company spiralled into ordinary company

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Research Staff Member in Yorktown Heights, NY
    Former Employee - Research Staff Member in Yorktown Heights, NY

    I worked at IBM Research full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Reasonable but not outstanding salary
    Flexible hours

    Cons

    Extremely weak managers
    Forced ranking system
    Constant resource actions
    Bloated bureacracy

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Value the employees you hire throughout the entire business cycle

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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