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Acumen Reviews

Updated February 14, 2018
101 reviews

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2.5
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Thomas MaCurdy
56 Ratings

101 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Interesting projects that offer great exposure to the healthcare field through projects that matter and working with big data (in 11 reviews)

  • The work hours are flexible, the culture is informal, and the work is challenging (in 6 reviews)

Cons
  • Hypocrisy regarding work/life balance (in 11 reviews)

  • This could also be a function of high turnover rate (another con), resulting in people not knowing who is new or not (in 11 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Wonderful place for recent graduates (masters and undergrad)"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Acumen full-time

    Pros

    Hardworking, talented, and compassionate workers who will teach you a lot

    Cons

    pay might be slightly less than you would like - but still great for recent graduates!

    Advice to Management

    keep up the great work!

    Acumen Response

    Mar 27, 2017 – Recruiting Manager

    It is great working alongside with so many hardworking, talented and compassionate coworkers.

    Performance reviews occur every six months (strong raises the first 2 years for new hires each review... More


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Decent analyst job for someone out of college, but hit-or-miss"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Statistical Programmer in Burlingame, CA
    Former Employee - Statistical Programmer in Burlingame, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Acumen full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    lots of very smart people,
    get to work with academics

    Cons

    projects are extremely isolated,
    get managed by academics,
    scattered projects,
    bad pay for bay area

    Advice to Management

    Construct an internal labor market so people can get to work on different projects without stagnating.

  3. Helpful (4)

    "Benefits are poor and management needs help"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Acumen full-time

    Pros

    - Very smart co-workers
    - Interesting projects
    - Monthly lunches
    - Limited fruit twice a week
    - Great parking lot

    Cons

    - Other reviews are correct, the benefits are very poor here. People have to fight for fruit and snacks every week. If you happen to be in a meeting when the snacks, fruit, or any kind of food comes out, tough luck.
    - Unbalanced workload. If you are in a senior position, you will have a heavy workload. Work is not evenly distributed and taking time to update or improve a processes is not prioritized.
    - Limited shuttle from the Bart station. If you try to come in early or stay at work past 6pm, you effectively do not have a ride to the Bart Station.
    - HR does not take feedback very well. Observing their response to these reviews are a great example. Some of these reviews are very specific about the issue yet HR requests for the reviewer to talk to them in person. It seems like HR rather focus on who is unhappy than resolving the issue for everyone.
    - HR updates policy or change benefits without broadcasting to the employees. It is very hard to find any relevant information. For example, employee bonus policy or 4 year PTO bonus policy is unclear. Unless you know someone that has the email from that one time HR sent it out years ago, it will be very hard to figure out what the surrounding policy is.
    - You do not get Veteren's Day or MLK day off.

    Advice to Management

    Employees will stay if there is interesting work and they are treated respectfully. Don't try to hide policy changes or communications about cuts away from us. It does not work and it sows animosity.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Great company/Poor Leadership"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Acumen full-time

    Pros

    Great Service for what the company does do

    Cons

    Overworked, underpaid, leadership is terrible.

    Advice to Management

    Invest time into the leadership and get new ones.


  5. Helpful (4)

    "do not come/stick around if you're a programmer and/or data scientist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Acumen full-time

    Pros

    - flexible hours/periodic work from home benefits (dependent on manager)
    - smart co-workers at lower levels
    - good introduction to SAS (not any other programming language)

    Cons

    - below market pay for bay area


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Data Center"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burlingame, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burlingame, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Acumen full-time

    Pros

    Basic benefits, casual atmosphere, nice external surroundings - right by the water.

    Cons

    Below market pay, incompetent or hypocritical managers, very divided in terms of teams/departments (you rarely get to know anyone outside of your team or project team members), revolving door of interns/recent graduates (i.e. hire-fire model) to save money on wages.

    Advice to Management

    Practice what you preach, stop pretending like everything is fine and dandy while putting out fires, treat senior non-managerial employees better and stop being so willing to compromise quality to save money on wages. Also, think about improving standardization within the company - whether it's pay rates, playing favorites with employees just because or whether your department names even make sense (Data Center had nothing to do with the actual running and maintenance of the company's data center)


  7. Helpful (6)

    "Good for new grads, interesting work, management is hit or miss, experiences vary greatly"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Former Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Employees are intelligent and friendly.
    - There are a wide variety of contracts to work on, many of which are interesting, rewarding, and have real impact on health policy.
    - Acumen has more access and expertise with public health data than other health research contractors.
    - When properly recognized by management, good work is rewarded with higher pay and accelerated advancement.
    - Hours are flexible (although often still long) and work environment is very casual.
    - The CEO is incredibly smart and has ambitious visions for the company. He is a workaholic who is absurdly committed to the company.

    Cons

    - A lot of teams suffer from poor management. Often managers are chosen based on how long they have been at the company or their project knowledge rather than their ability or desire to support the people reporting to them.
    - A lot of teams are over-worked. Depending on what projects you work on, you may have periodic crunch times where you have to work 80+ hour weeks.
    - Good work is often rewarded with more work and responsibilities than is desired until the employee eventually burns out.
    - The CEO can be very difficult to work with. He is very aggressive, demanding, and has trouble communicating his ideas to others. You need thick skin, patience, and good communication skills to be able to work with him.

    Advice to Management

    - Spend significant time and effort evaluating management team by team. Identify team dynamics that are unhealthy or unsustainable and set in place long term plans to address those issues.

  8. Helpful (9)

    "Non-profit H-1B sponsorship, poor communication and management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Acumen full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - If you are looking for a place to learn SAS, this is a good place.
    - If you are looking for a place to learn healthcare policies, this might be a good place. They work on different aspects of healthcare for the government. But the documentation and training are not good, you need a lot of self-learning here.

    Cons

    - Please please believe all the negative reviews here when seriously consider working in Acumen. They are all true. I have worse management stories. Most managers assigned to new hirers are fresh undergraduates and only have 1-2 years of working experience. Don’t expect them to be your mentor or care about your personal development.
    - Seniority is what Acumen values. It penetrates in many aspects – voice of your opinion, raises, promotion and even office supplies. For example, they gave out new chairs based on the order of the length you’ve stayed here while supply lasts. If you have prior working experience, it is not valued and sometimes it might hurt you – depending how your young/inexperienced manager sees it. Past reviews have commented on this.
    - Long working hours and low compensation are true. HR will tell you that there will be raises/promotion every six months the first 2 years you start here. This gets tricky: it depends on the date you start (there is a fixed time window for evaluation, if you miss it, you miss it) and don’t expect the raise is high, and don’t expect a promotion each time.
    - Poor Communication. Non-transparency. I have seen people got moved around teams/managers without prior notice. You also won’t know what other people are doing in the same team, let alone people in other teams.
    - They offer non-profit H1B sponsorship here. You also need to sign an agreement to pay penalties if you leave within xxx months/years working here after the sponsorship. Same for green card application. The GC app is slow here. Check on line how many people are in the GC list if this is something you are considering.
    - Benefits are poor. One simple case to illustrate their attitudes to the employees: when they serve bakery, they cut the bakery in half, and put a sign saying that people should not take more than two pieces, and have an HR to supervisor in the room. For snacks, one piece for one person.
    - One last word, every rule is very calculated here. If you have learned economics, they are trying to squeeze as much low cost as possible from their employees.

    Advice to Management

    The HR team has always been saying they are changing the management around here. It has been a long time and nothing has changed. Hire more experienced people to do the management.

    Acumen Response

    Dec 8, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for your thoughtful review. I am sorry you have had a challenging experience at Acumen. I would be happy to discuss any of the issues you have articulated and try and work through them... More


  9. Helpful (4)

    "Interesting research, unhealthy culture"

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

    I worked at Acumen full-time

    Pros

    -Interesting projects.

    -If you have a good manager and respectful team, this can be a great place to work.

    Cons

    -Managers can be terrible, with some in position due to cults of personality rather than creativity, ingenuity or intelligence. No manager development program. Some managers are blatantly disrespectful, dishonest, and/or sexist.

    -High turnover, resulting in periodic overwork

    -Sub-optimal performance review system that encourages backstabbing but doesn't close the information loop and provide constructive feedback.

    -Acumen has implemented a policy that current managers can't provide references to employees who are leaving the company. This is a huge red flag; HR is aware that the culture is bad, and the response is not to improve the situation, but rather to limit your options as you leave.

    Advice to Management

    When you have a gender-imbalanced promotion ratio or a mass exodus from a team--especially a mass exodus of women from a team--look at the management. HR: you're not just there to protect the status quo. Listen in on some meetings and see how frequently women talk and are interrupted. It's disheartening.

    Acumen Response

    Oct 31, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for your thoughtful review. I would be very interested in what team you have been a part of . As a company, we are working very hard to create a healthy and productive environment for... More


  10. Helpful (4)

    "Terrible management"

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

    I worked at Acumen full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Easy and fast selection process.

    Cons

    Managers get promoted as a result of their technical ability so they're great individual contributors and make terrible managers.
    High attrition, they really don't care about developing their people or having a good work culture.

    Acumen Response

    Dec 8, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for taking the time to do a review. I'm sorry you have not had a good experience with your manager. We continue to work with the management layers to elevate their leadership skills.


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