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I worked at Solekai Systems Corp
Pros – Open, hands-off environment as long as you do your work. Work is not very difficult for the most part. You are free to learn as much as you can, though your opportunities to do so will be limited by how busy your manager keeps you and how willing other employees are to share their knowledge.
There is a lunch room with free food, and donuts and bagels on Fridays. There's no limit on how much you can take, so snack away.
People are friendly enough. The company tries to promote a neighborly feeling. There are some good people here and you might find yourself with regular lunch buddies.
There are various fun activities, like office golf and luaus and monthly get togethers with food and drink.
You couldn't ask for a more beautiful environment. Solekai is located near the gorgeous Torrey Pines - Del Mar ocean area.
Cons – While the environment is open and hands-off, that hands-off managing leads to some serious office politics. Disgruntled employees and influential non-management staff may become major daily obstacles. Best to stay on everyone's good side, if you can.
Solekai's former big revenue stream has dried. What was was once a business of 200+ employees is now a much smaller company of several dozen. There are always ideas being thrown around by upper management for new projects, and a few of them work out, however nothing big has panned out.
Career opportunities are not bountiful here. Work needs are dictated by customer requirements, most of them concerning set top boxes (such as dvrs from your cable company). Solekai is not doing creative projects of its own. It is tinkering with existing hardware and software from other companies, creating test harnesses, testing requirements, and so on. As such hiring is done to those needs and only for those needs. If those customer needs disappear, then so too does your job. Some career growth does happen here, especially for key engineers, however for most employees it does not.
While little career movement occurs at Solekai, if you are a critical employee you will be heavily engaged interpersonally by managers who will involve you in work processes. Much of this is done as employee buy in, because the company has a problem hanging on to personnel through other means. If you are not a critical employee, likely a tester or test engineer, you may be ignored almost completely and have few opportunities for career advancement or learning skills, just daily tasks assigned through a database.
Pay for engineers is average, for testers well above average, for test engineers slightly under average. Nothing great and nothing terrible. Benefits are below average, low quality medical and dental, unless you purchase the very expensive plans. The more affordable plans are HMOs. Most employees are on hourly contracts and receive no paid holiday, vacation, or sick days (!!!).
Middle-management has it rough at this company as they deal with a lot of top down pressure from the CEO/Owner while struggling to retain key employees. Thus they promise the world while struggling to balance budgets and retain staff. Be careful with the managers, and be wary of any promises they give.
The company has a revolving door employee issue. Projects may go on hiatus, leading to temporary employee termination. Employees are brought back when money flows back to the company. Due to the "small-town neighborly" environment, many employees will return because the work is often not challenging and it pays decently.
Niche QA services are not easy to sell. Solekai has built itself upon that niche. It provides outsourced software engineering and QA to other software engineering companies. In our current financial environment, that sort of outsourced work is one of the first expenses cut. Compounding the problem, Solekai is not the only player in outsourced QA engineering or the STB (set top box) world, even in San Diego. There are several others, some of them very big and successful. What this means is that Solekai has a difficult time ahead of it, as it fights to hold its shrinking niche.
Advice to Senior Management – Clamp down on the office politics. Provide more career advancement. Explore other business opportunities.
No, I would not recommend this company to a friend
2011-09-06 18:57 PDT
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