National Instruments Reviews

Updated May 28, 2015
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3.5
686 Reviews
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National Instruments Chairman, President, and CEO James J. Truchard
James J. Truchard
514 Ratings

Pros
  • Relaxed working environment and good work/life balance; stable employment outlook (in 97 reviews)

  • The people are generally brilliant and the work environment is healthy (in 69 reviews)

Cons
  • Although the work/life balance was in general, sometimes the work could take over (in 14 reviews)

  • Organizational structure and consensus culture are huge roadblocks in the decision making process (in 17 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

686 Employee Reviews

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  1. Business Development Manager

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at National Instruments

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Flexible career options and career development

    Cons

    Challenges moving from a small to a large company

    Advice to Management

    Better mix of home grown and external ideas

  2. Helpful (2)

    Great place to stay

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

    I worked at National Instruments full-time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Passionate, intelligent people committed to great products and customer service.

    Cons

    They value engineering talent over other professions.

    Advice to Management

    As you grow, don't forget the non-technical talent that helped you get there.

  3. Buyer

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at National Instruments

    Pros

    I was an entry level buyer they took in as more of an intern and in the best way possible. I was really shown how supply chain management works in both purchasing and planning, and learned skills I've applied to jobs since. A great place to learn to use Oracle MRP as well.

    Cons

    Occasionally, management can be "too nice" to let you know when something is wrong, and a small mistake can escalate to something bigger. Only happened a couple of times though.

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing what you're doing. There's a reason why you're consistently ranked among the best employers and why I know so many people in the industry who want to work for you.

  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Helpful (18)

    Beginning a slow and steady decline

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Staff Project Engineer in Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Staff Project Engineer in Austin, TX

    I worked at National Instruments full-time (More than 8 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    NI is a stable employer built on the respectable foundation of enabling domain experts to solve their problems cheaply and simply. The work is meaningful and has transformed NI's deeply penetrated Instrument Control and Data Acquisition markets. Hardware solutions are built around LabVIEW, the company's benchmark software, creating a cohesive marketing and sales strategy in numerous scientific and engineering domains.

    The company extensively hires and trains college graduates, providing a welcoming and youthful culture for the transition from college to the workplace. Employees are encouraged to congregate at and outside the office with happy hours, sports leagues, beer brewing clubs, etc. The dress code in most departments is relaxed, a must for the engineering and CS crowd.

    The first 3-5 years of employment provide numerous opportunities for growth and career advancement. The stock purchase plan provides a significant boost to poor compensation, as NI is a stable and dividend-rich stock to hold.

    Cons

    The once exceptional foundation of employee culture has cracked and eroded beyond repair. Over the past ten years NI leadership has systematically degraded the employee experience to cut costs and increase revenue. NI leadership delivers messages with the mentality of a booming 90's up-and-comer but plans and executes like shrewd, entrenched behemoth.

    NI attempts to hire the 'best and brightest' college graduates but fails to compete for those from top-tier colleges. NI recruits based on college grades, internship experience, and 10-year-old interview questions. Unfortunately these are not indicators of success in the workplace, and NI struggles mightily to quantify production, making identifying and releasing dead weight nearly impossible. (it personally took me 3 months to remove a severely underperforming developer.) On the other side of the coin, NI considers working extra hours the supreme indicator of exceptional work. Innovation and efficiency are recognized as a byproduct of NI's culture and not rewarded appropriately, though NI"s take on recognition and compensation are well-documented.

    The topic of exceptional work deserves its own section, since the consensus-driven culture allows each group to define good work. Despite extensive (but outdated) guiding principles, there is a significant disconnect between the company's mission and day-to-day decision-making. Each department/group/product claims exemption from any number of 'guidelines', providing a diverse and disjoint landscape. In the end, decisions are made by (a) the highest-ranking employee or (b) the loudest, most resilient opinion.

    The performance problem is ineffectual middle management. Most of NI's middle management rode the coattails of the company's fantastic growth during the dot-com bubble. Despite their best intentions, middle management has repeatedly failed to evolve to the changing landscape of the technology sector. These employees have only experienced the NI workplace and consider the environment they experienced during their growth period the end-all, be-all of corporate culture. Most quality employees from that period moved to bigger and better opportunities, leaving the current middle management to grasp tightly to the aura of what once was.

    This culture problem lies in upper management, including the once venerable Dr T. In the past 5 years, the benefits package has been cut to the bone, manufacturing has been wholly outsourced, R&D -- once untouchable -- has experienced layoffs, and attrition has risen to its highest ever levels. In the same period upper management have continued to increase their compensation (24% salary increase for the CFO!) and roles (EVP of Sales AND Marketing!). They have tried and failed repeatedly to institute a succession plan, making their inflated sense of self-worth all the more worrying. In response to increasingly dissatisfied employees, 'key employees' were gifted stock with 5 year vests, raises were upped from 3% to 5%, and ... well that's it.

    Advice to Management

    Prepare for a decade of mediocrity. You have sacrificed the long-term wellbeing of the company for your short-term gains, a compromise you're regretting as the chickens come home to roost.

  6. Helpful (5)

    Too much politics

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Product Marketing Manager
    Current Employee - Product Marketing Manager

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Very friendly environment, manager wants to see you succeed and great facilities. You get to choose your own path and work on things that are most interesting to you.

    Cons

    There has been a lack of clear direction for some time now. Pay is well below market average and it feels like the officers are willing to tell us whatever they think we want to hear.

    Advice to Management

    Tell us what is really going on and provide an open and honest workplace. All of the secrecy creates a toxic environment where everyone has to play office politics.

  7. Helpful (1)

    Hardware design and sustaining

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    *Good work culture, relatively laid back
    *Good place to learn, most groups actively try to find a mentor for new graduates

    Cons

    *Poor to average compensation
    *Limited opportunities for career growth

  8. Helpful (1)

    Great company to start your career with

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Staff Software Engineer in Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Staff Software Engineer in Austin, TX

    I worked at National Instruments full-time

    Pros

    Great mentoring for new grads and a good family-like culture

    Cons

    Compensation tends to stagnate very quickly and the company is very conservative in software development practices.

  9. Open company with good people. There is room for improvement.

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

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time (More than 5 years)

    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - Positive working environment with good smart people
    - People try to do what's right for the company
    - Very open environment, allows for good discussions

    Cons

    - Consensus driven culture causes a very slow and inefficient decision making process.
    - Compensation is average at best, making it hard to retain top talent after some time
    - Very "shy" at trying new ideas, there seems to be big inertia to keep things the same

    Advice to Management

    - Evaluate compensation plans to fit the growth of the company and competitive marketplace, at least in Austin
    - Need to become more aggressive at trying new things, and also let them fail fast. This is a must to achieve better growth.
    - Improve decision making process to be faster and more efficient.

  10. Helpful (11)

    Great place to learn, not so much to advance your career.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Austin, TX

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    - Coworkers were really nice people and very helpful. There is no condescension and some of the senior engineers are genuinely interested in helping the new hires improve their skills.
    - Employee stock purchase plan is decent.
    - Your experience however is determined by which team you land on.
    - You will learn a lot on the job.
    - Austin is a nice city to live, rental prices are going through the roof though, so be warned.
    My honest advice is if you have an alternative job offer, go for it and only consider NI if there is nothing else on the table. The corporate culture they try to sell new hires on is not synonymous with NI and is rapidly disappearing.

    Cons

    - People who think outside the box are soundly ignored, there is a massive resistance to ideas which are new or unfamiliar.
    - Hard and honest work occasionally goes unnoticed, leeching off other team's work is encouraged while helping them out is discouraged. Occasionally I have been told not to waste time helping other teams find and fix problems (even if they are minor) and just let them be.
    - No clear raise or promotion structure, management tried to push some under the table raises recently which caused a lot of resentment, forcing them to come clean.
    - Salaries do not go up with inflation, and some new hires get higher salaries than people who have been working for a few years as they company has had massive problem recruiting.
    - Some teams are more important than others philosophy.
    - There is always a rush to push products out the door rather than focus on coming out with a quality product, which results in an endless amount of bugs which end up getting deferred every release.
    - Very annoying tendency of management to spin everything as 'we are awesome, we had the best quarter ever', yet come raise or bonus time things seem to be the complete opposite 'we had a difficult year in blah blah blah'.
    - Career advancement seems tied to how much of a yes man you are to upper management.
    - Switching teams can work either as a benefit or as an annoyance, if you were tethering on a the brink of a promotion and find yourself in a new team, it's pretty much like hitting the reset button.
    -Benefits used to be good when I joined, but get worse every year.

    Advice to Management

    Better compensate your employees, people were willing to put up with it while the cost of living in Austin was low but inflation has rapidly outpaced the salary levels.
    Don't discourage people who like to try out new approaches and stop forcing them to adopt the
    NI way' of doing things, there are obvious flaws there is always room for iterative improvement.

  11. Helpful (2)

    software engineer

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

    I worked at National Instruments full-time

    Pros

    good work atmosphere you want a job rather than a career

    Cons

    manager tend to give good projects to who they hire and ignore others

    people who cannot pursue technical roles switch to management track. Bad because a lot of managers does not understand technical stuff

    re-org happens very often, managers change


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