Sinclair Knight Merz

  www.skmconsulting.com
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Sinclair Knight Merz Reviews

Updated Jul 14, 2014

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3.4 39 reviews

60% Approve of the CEO

Sinclair Knight Merz Managing Director & CEO Santo Rizzuto

Santo Rizzuto

(15 ratings)

60% of employees recommend this company to a friend
39 Employee Reviews
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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

     

    End of an era and moving on to a new beginning

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Melbourne (Australia)

    ProsA values based company that allowed its employees to get on with the job. A shareholding structure that retained senior talent and rewarded those that put in the effort. A strong client focus. Good life balance available. Good office accommodation.

    ConsWhile the values are strong the values are not always lived by senior management as strongly as they should be. Transition of ownership to Jacobs is challenging the business and many of the pros are being removed without the benefits of ownership by jacobs yet being obvious. Teams are now more than 20 - 30 people. Support functions such as HR have been decimated.

    Advice to Senior ManagementMake sure there is support for and investment in people in the new entity.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    Accepted here as a female graduate engineer, being treated as an admin person

    Graduate Engineer (Current Employee) Sydney (Australia)

    Pros- a place where you can be lazy, do nothing and still getting paid, plus you can surf the net all the time without anybody know you exist.
    - free fruit in the morning

    Cons- I've been at SKM / Jacobs as a graduate engineer for almost 2 years, still haven't developed any significant skills related to my profession. I am still treated as a newbie who knows nothing and have been given tons of admin work. Thanks to my manager who always sees me that way for some reasons. I've been involved in several projects doing bits and pieces but nothing technical. I was involved in those projects as a helper. Instead of using my brain solving technical problems, I have to scan, print and bind tons of documents and reports. Not just once, but all the time.
    - Every time I finished my work, I have the options of sitting down in front of my computer doing nothing (surf the net etc) until I get bored OR I ask for more work from my manager and get me to help someone for administrative related for one of the senior guys.
    - I keep asking for some relevant work (e.g. field work, report writing etc) and he kept giving me fake promises. I'm really wasting my time here but then again I've got time to write all these stuff I don't like on glassdoor sharing my experiences as a female graduate engineer at SKM / Jacobs.
    - At the same time, they expect me to complete my CPEng within 4 years (during the graduate program). Should I write my experience as an admin person to get certified? Sure that looks promising for my future career.
    - Favouritsm is a big thing at SKM / Jacobs. Don't get fooled by those who say equal opportunities for everybody (female or male). Being a female and plus a graduate are tough especially if you are the only female graduate in your team.
    - There's another grad in my team. Lets say his name is 'A'. One day I overheard one of the senior engineers saying to my manager "I just want to work with 'A' or someone similar to 'A'". I guess he was being honest of his preference but the worst part was that my manager had no problem with what he said. Favouritsm or sexism? I have no idea what to call this.

    Advice to Senior Management- Read the cons above and listen. Do not defend yourselves if you know you are wrong. If you don't think you are wrong then there's no point of you reading my comments.
    - Anonymous surveys are required to check who are happy and unhappy, then solved the problems
    - Don't only think about chargeable / billable hours, think about your employees' career development, share some thoughts and listen to them. I've had two Performance Dialogues submitted and reviewed so far and both of them were useless. Promises were made but got lost along the way.
    - Treat everybody equally no matter what their genders and roles (including graduates) are.
    - Be friendly to everybody. What I meant by everybody is not just your colleagues on the same level as you, but everybody including the graduates. Don't be friendly when you only need something to be done.
    - If you want the grads to do a better job than what you expect, guide the graduates so they know what you are expecting. Do not wait until they failed to perform such task so you can bully them.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Excellent culture and people, good grad development, however workload inconsistent

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsCompany truly is people focused, employees treated well.
    People are nice and great to work with
    Lots of seniors who are top of their trade
    First look programme for students is very generous with scholarship
    Grads get a fair amount of responsibility early on, after the settling in phase.

    ConsHourglass shaped hierarchy, lots of grey haired seniors and lots of junior grads, not enough intermediates (~10 experience). Intermediates seem to not have much room for career development because so many of the seniors are staying on.

    Recently bought by big American company so lots of the perks of the company (people focused) may be lost as it focuses more on revenue.

    Biggest gripe is the inconsistent work pipeline. Not winning enough jobs, especially in the infrastructure space. Hence people are not always kept fully utilised. This has caused a lot of intermediates and experienced grads to leave the company.

    Advice to Senior ManagementAim to retain intermediates as top priority
    Don't lose a job on price, reduce margins, sales team must be more aggressive in finding jobs, not just waiting for them to show up.
    Overcrowded admin, management staff that may be cut down so to decrease overheads and increase room for hiring more people who do the "work".

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    Great people, open and collaborative

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsYou'll work in a very collaborative environment, it's the people here that makes the business what it is. Open, friendly Environment with great investment in its people, particularly around training and development. It's a flexible and relaxed environment where you manage your own time to achieve your goals. Your encouraged to come up with your own ideas to add further value to the business.

    ConsThe recent intent to explore potential Mergers/Sale has been a huge distraction to the business where some focus has been lost along the way. The wheels have been moving but much more slowly. A huge distraction to the staff within the business.

    Advice to Senior ManagementNow the sale has been announced please move quickly and decisively, creating clarity around structures and future roles.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    I still talk about how great SKM was/is to work for. Should be an interesting change being acquired by Jacobs

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Perth, Western Australia (Australia)

    ProsLeading HR/Recruitment systems/procedures/function. You don't know how good you have it until you leave.
    Fantastic people. All working towards a common goal.
    Flexible working arrangements are a reality.
    Fantastic Learning & Development programs

    ConsSuccession planning in support services is limited due to high retention of senior staff. Limited opportunities to progress.
    Being professional services, it was all about chargeable hours, and in difficult economic times this become a critical management tool but an unfair tool to measure performance against.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

     

    Great teams, good opportunities, may change with merger

    Senior Engineer (Former Employee) Brisbane (Australia)

    Pros1. Work with some of the best and brightest people in their fields.
    2. Work on diverse, interesting, big projects with a team drawn from across the company.
    3. Learn from your Community of Practice (with practice leader and regular virtual meetings).
    4. Take advantage of the mentoring program to be a mentee or mentor.
    5. Enjoy the fruits of SKM's business strategy in focussing on valued "relationship clients."
    6. Be formally acknowledged for your capabilities as you become rated/certified in technical competence (in an in-house skills/discipline matrix) and known across the company for your skills.

    Some or all of this might change as SKM recently merged with Jacobs, a much larger company (name changed to Jacobs SKM).

    Cons1. Some managers may not be so great at actual people management, as they are most likely good at being engineers/scientists and project managers, which is not the same skill set.
    2. While useful, the custom systems used in-house for project management can be cumbersome and time-consuming.
    3. Depsite the extensive use of afore-mentioned systems, undocumented knowledge still tends to lurk in the heads and hands of old-timers.
    4. The current economic climate has led to a round of lay-offs (though not as soon or as severe as in similar companies).

    Advice to Senior ManagementSome other reviewers put it best: watch out for the rigid, bureaucratic culture that is developing. The internal QA/PM/other systems are well developed but beware that the tools don't become the master. Last, there are a lot of client facing roles and it's not clear whether the company is spending the right proportion of its budget on client management -- perhaps this should be examined by an impartial outsider.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

     

    Great company, very flexible and friendly.

    Secretary (Current Employee) London, England (UK)

    ProsGood working across offices.
    Good systems.
    Good communication.
    Flexible.

    ConsNo room for promotion from administrative prospective.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Limited opportunities, especially for women.

    Civil Engineer (Current Employee) Brisbane (Australia)

    ProsThe only pro.. nice location if you live on the south side.

    ConsIf you are not part of the MAMIL cycle club (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) than you get nowhere.

    Don't work here if you are a woman, don't be fooled by their 'Women in Consulting' promises - you don't get anywhere.

    There is so many levels of middle management, that makes the entire company extremely top heavy and full of ex shareholders (after Jacobs merger) that just charge to overheads.

    They made all the wrong people redundant during the GFC and consequent 3-4 rounds of redundancies.

    The treatment of graduates is very poor, no engagement and very little in the way of professional development opportunities. Make big promises in the interview stage but don't follow through.

    If you don't achieve CPENG/RPEQ within 4 years of graduation (A pretty hard ask when you don't get to actually work on projects) then you are automatically career limited throughout the company.

    Expect a lot of unpaid overtime - especially from junior staff. If you question their resourcing policy - you get put on the 'list' and even more limited in your project involvement.

    Salary reviews are a joke - they don't actually budget for increases ever.

    The Jacobs acquisition process promises more pain, and they have started a policy of 'don't tell staff anything' instead of the previous SKM policy of 'give some information out on occasion'.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGet rid of half of the middle management, and introduce some KPI's that are not $$ focused - like staff retention.

    Change your male only management policy to be more female friendly. - Employer of choice for women? Oh Please.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Life changing experience

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Melbourne (Australia)

    ProsGood office accommodation. Monthly social events for staff to connect. Good location to public transport. Has some great people working there.

    ConsToo heavily focussed on technical workforce. Poor recruitment practices in non technical areas. Policy of attracting and retaining female talent is not adhered, insufficient females in leadership positions. Company values are not followed, and little is done to address poor behaviours, and inexperienced HR team unable to manage some of these issues. Senior management have been there for too long and unable to move with the changing times. Success within the company is dependent on your role (technically favoured) and who you report to (too clicky).

    Advice to Senior ManagementIntroduce 360 feedback for performance reviews, yearly opinions surveys for continuous improvement. Employ more females in leadership positions in all areas not just technical.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Not bad but could do better

    Environmental Scientist (Current Employee) Brisbane (Australia)

    Pros• The company offers a wide range of project areas both in terms of technical requirements and geographical locations.
    • If you join as a graduate there are real opportunities to work in different areas of the business before you become specialised.
    • With a reasonably global reach there are many opportunities to move around the globe, something which many staff took advantage of when the UK slowed down in the GFC but the mining boom keep Australia’s markets strong.
    • There was the opportunity to become a shareholder (this will cease with the Jacobs takeover though).

    Cons• The company has become too top heavy with the ever increasing number of shareholders and client managers floating around in the upper echelons getting paid a lot but not actually generating that much work.
    • The middle management in the company is weak (although that is something that can be levelled at a lot of firms).
    • The company is becoming a more and more rigid place to work which damages its relationship with staff as well as its ability to be nimble in difficult business environments.
    • There is a perception internally that this is the best consultancy and that we have some sort of god given right to have clients knocking at our doors paying whatever we want. This has led us to be less competitive recently than a lot of our competitors.
    • Being employee owned is good if you’re in the 10% owners but negative if not. It creates a divide between the 10% and the 90%, something that is bought into sharp focus in difficult times when lots of non-shareholders are culled whilst every shareholder keeps their job regardless of their input to the company.

    Advice to Senior Management• Remember what the company is about
    • Try to rekindle the atmosphere of old
    • Treat the staff in a more accommodating way rather than the rigid one size fits all approach which seems to be prevalent at the moment.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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