Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc Reviews

Updated August 11, 2015
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3.3
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Robert S Brustlin
16 Ratings

31 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    Application Developer

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    The company structure holds licensing with software providers and allow for great availability of resources for staff. Great sponsorship for staff activities and networking. Fun place to work.

    Cons

    Management has a high expectation on bilability targets. Some unecessary stress is added with such profile.


  2. Review

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Field Technician
    Former Employee - Field Technician
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The supervisor is a nice guy.

    Cons

    The salary is low, and the work is very busy and hard. There is no opportunity for promoting.

    Advice to Management

    Please include Field Technician as an regular position, no temporary any more. Give international students more opportunities, if the company wants to expand.


  3. Helpful (1)

    Stressful Environment

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Manager
    Current Employee - Project Manager
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc full-time

    Pros

    Working Environment is pleasant. IT Department is top notch. Salary is average to good.

    Cons

    Stressful Environment. It is either way to busy or not enough work. If there is even a hint of a slight slowdown, layoffs are possible. Tremendous competition among managers for staff talent as well as projects. In the past have competed with people in my own office for external work. Very much a "cut throat" environment for middle and upper management. Younger engineers will have a good experience and learn a lot if they are willing to work hard. Unfortunately many good young engineers leave the company when they approach management level because there are no opportunities.

    Advice to Management

    Get rid of the "deadwood" upper managers that do not make meaningful contributions and drive the billability requirements up for the younger staff.


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  5. Helpful (3)

    A gradual decline.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    - Flexibility of hours depending on location. - Direct co-workers are mostly great. - Benefits are not the worst. - Things are good when things are good.

    Cons

    - Billability, billability, billability. ~94%-97% for worker bees. Unrealistic when considering basic things like e-mail and phone calls along with initial conceptual project research. If things do slow down (and they naturally do at times) this becomes an insurmountable mountain. - Rates billed to clients too high - Limits scope of potential projects. - Company seems fixated on prominence in areas where they simply cannot be prominent. What sets us apart from other engineering firms? Nothing. Nothing, aside for locations that cannot provide full service engineering due to years of layoffs. - Work sharing throughout the company is great as an idea, generally a wreck in practice. - Increasingly disturbing number of upper level management. This requires higher rates and billability. - Promises from corporate and regional leaders to assist in growth, only to get no assistance. - Growth in number of employees is made by purchasing companies for client list and workload, thereby increasing "prominence", and keeping key characters while laying off significant amount of staff. - Money spent like mad with internal marketing. We know where we work. Stop selling us on the company and try to sell the company to potential clients. - Client for life - Another fantastic idea until the client questions why we are increasingly expensive compared to competitors. - Limited growth potential unless you are one of the chosen it appears. - Getting a PE may get you a congratulations, but not necessarily additional compensation. Multiple people in multiple offices can attest to this. Or could have; many have since moved on.

    Advice to Management

    - Promises of assistance to grow and expand an office should lead to actual assistance rather than empty promises. - Look at whether the company actually needs the amount of senior management it has and continues to grow. - Stop the internal marketing rushes. Nothing turns the stomachs of entire offices more than this. - Stop the purchasing blitz of companies and instead figure how to actually grow from within. Too many talented people within the company with wasted potential. - Swank office spaces are great, but there are plenty of available spaces for more reasonable prices that cut down on expenditures. - Your people are what make you great. From admins to senior engineers. Remember this. Branding and a fresh logo does not make a company.


  6. Helpful (4)

    Below is a must read for potential employees

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Land Development Manager in Newark, NJ
    Former Employee - Land Development Manager in Newark, NJ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc full-time

    Pros

    In a strong economy, the ability to be successful is there. Workplace flexibility is good. And, they recently unveiled a new logo!

    Cons

    Hang in there, this might be a little verbose... You will read much of the company's obsession with billability. Here is a high level look at it: - The entire production staff (drafters, designers, engineers, etc.), those who do the work, must maintain a billability ratio (BR) of +/- 95%. The PMs and Senior PMs, those who are tasked to find, manage, and held accountable for the work, must maintain a BR of between 60% to 85% depending on level. This is above industry standard based upon the billing rates (not salary) of the production and management staff. - Here in lies the issue, when the economy is weak, and clients begin to look for ways to economize, one of their initial steps is to cut engineering consulting costs. You are told by your client of many years, "Company ABC can do this for 80% of what I am paying you." However, you have to maintain BRs and profit margins and hold the company line. This is what this company tells you that you need to do in order to be successful. -Here is what you are not told, this company sets it BRs high so that the corporate staff (CEO, COO, Executive VP of this, Director of that, IT, Legal, Finance, Marketing, etc.) can get their comparatively large paycheck/bonus when compared to the production work staff. Approximately 25% of this company is corporate, or otherwise non-billable. - Let's get back to the grind it out production staff, who due to the BRs are starting to see work ebb and flow a little more than the non-billables would like because other firms with less corporate baggage. The non-billables lean heavier on the billable staff to go get more work. - So you put forth an effort to develop more business, it is not billable, but you send proposals and you get a hit. You offer what you think is a fair price based on effort involved (maintaining billability!), but because the hourly rates associated with hours worked by the production staff are high, you get a price that is considered high by the potential client. - This is relayed to corporate (again, non-billable), that some negotiating is required, and you are told to WIN THE WORK. Can anyone out there tell me how to do that without 1.) Asking your production staff to work 12 hours while paying them for 8....or...2.) Cutting the cost so billability and profitability are affected. One doesn't make your work staff happy, the other doesn't make your corporate hawks happy.

    Advice to Management

    Ease up on the mafia mentality of having your work crew "pay up" to those with the country club memberships, and remember that you were once an engineer.


  7. Helpful (2)

    Boutique Engineering and Environmental Firm

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Hartford, CT
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Hartford, CT
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Casual atmosphere at the office despite killer deadlines, and generous pay plus benefits. I was there ten years before burn-out took over.

    Cons

    Very hard on people with families. Expect long hours and stressful situations, with lots of competition and tire tracks from a bus now and again, and again, and again . . .

    Advice to Management

    The billable system can be a nightmare when work slows. I would suggest streamlining but it seems you have no choice these days. The big cats are cool; middle management was occasionally cutthroat and desperate.


  8. Helpful (1)

    Good place to gain experience

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Younger staff made up of talented people. Interesting projects with focus in the Northeastern U.S.

    Cons

    Limited training opportunities. Unclear path for younger staff to advance

    Advice to Management

    Better alignment of managerial staff with long term goals is necessary. Too many senior managers seem to lack focus or are split between corporate duties and actual management or providing direction to junior staff.


  9. Great Place to Grow Professionally

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Environmental Planner
    Current Employee - Environmental Planner
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    -Fast-paced -Variety of meaningful and interesting projects -Opportunity to work with and learn from dynamic industry leaders -Good benefits -Focus on professional growth/development -Flexibility to work remotely -Management open to new ideas/encourages feedback both ways

    Cons

    -Very high billability targets -Some weeks require a lot of OT to meet deadlines

    Advice to Management

    Continue to listen to employees and evolve as a company. Unrealistically high billability targets can stress employees out when workload is slower or if they have essential (but not billable) work to complete such as interviews, staff meetings, etc.


  10. Entry Level Civil Engineer

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Graduate Civil Engineer in Watertown, MA
    Former Employee - Graduate Civil Engineer in Watertown, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great working culture, flexible hours, and advocates innovation.

    Cons

    Drinking alcohol in the office is a common occurrence.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work. Remember to build relationships with your whole team.


  11. Helpful (5)

    hire to fire, laid off within 11 months due to lack of work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Part of Land Development Group
    Former Employee - Part of Land Development Group
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    great company benefits, very laid back culture

    Cons

    very poor management, managers cannot bring work on to the hands of production staff during the promised allocated time during your weekly schedule, resulting in scrambling of billable work in order to meet a very highly unrealistic 95% billable rate. A couple months into my employment, I noticed that work repeated doesn't come through as planned, while managers will be either busy with their more "urgent matters" or took extended vacation, leaving production staff to a stand still.

    Advice to Management

    get your act together. Your managers are short-sighted and understand a 95% billable rate is only possible if the managers have readily available billable work lined up for their production staff.



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