National Instruments Reviews

Updated June 30, 2015
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  1. Helpful (4)

    Good place to learn but not a place to stay

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

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Most of your coworkers are great and become like family. You learn a lot up to a certain point. Fantastic benefits.

    Cons

    It is nearly impossible to innovate. There is definitely a herd mentality, and anyone who strays is frowned upon. All the transparency that used to make the company great is gone. Every communication sounds like it was crafted by legal and PR. All the exciting opportunities are scooped up by managers who should be managing and not working as individual contributors. The pay? Ridiculous.

    Advice to Management

    Bring back the transparency. Don't be afraid to answer the tough questions - all of them and not just the ones that make you look good. Select managers based on their strengths and not seniority. Let managers be people managers instead of having them split their time between managing and being individual contributors.


  2. Helpful (10)

    All Vision, no Heart

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

    I worked at National Instruments full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Work-Life Balance
    0-5 year training and experience
    The career the first five years can prepare you for once you leave

    Cons

    The company does not care about sharing business success with the employees who design and build the products that drive profit. Every decision at NI is made to allow an increase in the dividend or to secure Dr. Truchard's legacy/vision. Engineers, Manufacturing, every employee in the company is a fungible cog in the NI machine (with an MTBF of 5 years), turning in order to achieve these goals with a heavy amount of grease provided by internal marketing to try and keep things running smoothly.

    The company will say absolutely anything (or conveniently not say anything at all - such as when dividends increase while salaries don't or when promotions are "frozen" due to poor company growth) to convince employees that decisions to support those two goals are in their best interests. Times are ALWAYS tough at National Instruments - "Cautiously Optimistic" is the best you can hope for. We're just about to break through to record, sustained 20% growth - but you still aren't getting a raise until we do!

    Every single employee compensation metric (Salaries, RSUs, Bonus, even promotions!) relies solely on (organic) revenue growth. The issue is that senior leadership does not know how to grow revenue anymore - Test and Measurement is a terrible business for innovation leading to growth and it may simply not be possible to hit 20% given the current size/market share of the company. NI is great at increasing profitability and margins (not so tough when you never give raises or hire more people) and the employees see absolutely no benefit from this increased profitability. The shareholders sure do though, as the recent (Q4 2014) 15c to 19c/quarter dividend bump represents an increase of $20.5 Million per year (a roughly $2.5 Million per year raise for Dr. Truchard although his $1 per year salary is trumpeted as a noble sacrifice) during a year where many employees didn't get even a cost of living increase. Growth companies don't do this, they invest to increase growth when they know how to. However, the only measured metrics and accountability at the senior leadership level in NI tie back to increasing either profitability or efficiency.

    Advice to Management

    Allow employees to benefit from the main focus of the company - increased profitability/efficiency. NI is transforming from a growth to a value company and employees simply don't share in the success of the business anymore.

    Increase employee compensation at least to match inflation/cost of living (in Austin!) to help them forge their own legacy rather than continue to make sacrifices for the legacy of Dr. Truchard.

    Respect employees enough to follow through on the open communication you hold on a pedestal - openly discuss the dividend increases when they're made and why the shareholders are entitled to a large raise when employees are not. Openly discuss compensation (don't just say "we aim to be average with our magical market surveys", you hire smart people who understand data - share it).

    Make retention of employees with tenure > 5 years a metric. "Key employee retention" means nothing when there is no definition of a key employee nor acknowledgement of how many exist. These are the people who have stuck with the company and helped execute on the plans to keep it relevant in the future, but all the effort is in wooing interns and new hires with offer increases and literal jars full of candy.


  3. Helpful (3)

    Disappointed

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

    I worked at National Instruments (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    There is an on site doctor and gym. Great campus, it is very serene. There are some very smart people that work here.

    Cons

    I was shocked at the number of employees that were not tech savvy. I expected a tech company to employ people who were not only tech literate, but also embraced it & thought in innovative terms. Diversity is lacking & the company is very much a good old boys club.

    Advice to Management

    Most of your struggles are because leadership is lacking, innovation is not a focus & technology is not embraced.


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  5. review

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Austin, TX

    I have been working at National Instruments (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great company to work for

    Cons

    I love working there today


  6. NI

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

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time

    Pros

    Good culture, but only sometimes

    Cons

    Bad culture, but only sometimes


  7. Helpful (22)

    Beginning a slow and steady decline

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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.


  8. Helpful (1)

    Great company to start your career with

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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 (12)

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

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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 (9)

    Don't be tricked into lower pay because of "great culture"

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Prefer Not to Say in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Prefer Not to Say in Austin, TX

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time

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

    Pros

    Relaxed dress code, sometimes fun, gym, doctor office available, good place to begin a career

    Cons

    Lots of back biting and unhealthy and uncooperative behaviors emerging, cronyism, declining autonomy, terrible pay, terrible vacation, lots of arrogance in the management, bad decision making

    Advice to Management

    If you brag about hiring the best and the brightest then don't micromanage. Stop putting power hungry people in management spots.



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