AstraZeneca Reviews in United Kingdom | Glassdoor

AstraZeneca UK Reviews

Updated April 28, 2017
132 reviews

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United Kingdom

3.6
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AstraZeneca Executive Director, CEO Pascal Soriot
Pascal Soriot
68 Ratings

132 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • they offer great benefits and a good work/life balance (in 136 reviews)

  • Good benefits and overall culture (in 82 reviews)

Cons
  • Work / Life balance is loaded specially if you intend to develop fast in your career (in 31 reviews)

  • I consider this a capital mistake in vision at the senior management level (in 25 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (13)

    "Once great company with many talented people diminished by ineffective management"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Macclesfield, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Macclesfield, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at AstraZeneca full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    The Alderley site in the UK is a beautiful location to work at. Nice restaurant, gym facilities etc. The people there and at other sites are by and large great people with the majority of them very dedicated to the company and also to what it stands (stood) for and the work that it was doing. Quite a few ago, it was a great place to work..

    Cons

    Short sighted management - which started long before the cuts started happening is bringing a once excellent company to its knees. Morale is at extremely low levels. Short term cost savings in critical areas whilst squandering resource in non critical areas. Continual reorganisations at ever increasing frequencies. Cutting of staff beyond functional levels mean internal processes are falling over. Failing infrastructure and facilities, and dysfunctional/ un-managed/unclear systems and processes combined with insufficient staff have created an environment where it is extremely difficult for remaining staff to carry out their roles. Infighting between and within groups and "toxic" environments becoming more common.

    Advice to Management

    Senior management within AZ have for a number of years been attempting to present to the world a unified image of a company that is “drastically changing its internal processes and structures to create a very new and different AZ.” The reality within AZ is very different.

    The new structures (usually described as for example "up and running”/”going live”/”gearing up”/etc) are usually a twinkle in some managers eye, whilst precious little is actually happening on the ground. The leadership capabilities (that we have told the stock market it is our priority to recruit and nurture) thus far have come to very little. In our area, one new manager (I can’t remember whether he joined us with “devastating insight”/”remarkable intutition”/”choose your own random glib expression”) simply answers every question put to him with – “Well tell me what you think”. This was novel when first heard; many months on that same expression used ad infinitum is illustrative that AZ is still employing/positioning managers that are uncomfortable making decisions and taking a lead.

    AZ has for several years now been running on short-sightedness in the extreme. You can con the market analysts for a short period of time by painting pictures. In the long term, the company needs to deliver products based on good science. An organisation that exists only on the power point slides of senior and middle managers is not capable of doing this. And when this doesn’t happen – which it won’t whilst AZ is more focused on the stock market than on its core business – the bubble will burst. If you think that has already happened at AZ, think again. It can fall a lot further and internally the company is creaking at the seams.

    AZ desperately needs leaders: It needs leaders who understand science. It needs leaders who are going to preserve the future of the business by looking at the long term and the bigger picture. It needs leaders who value their staff, who support their staff, and who have the courage to put themselves on the line for their staff because they understand the work that is being done and they believe in the value of it.

    What AZ desperately doesn’t need if it wants to return to good science is a continual series of reorganisations, fashionable acronyms, buzzword projects and gut-wrenchingly idiotic phrases (Inspire to Innovate??). What it also doesn’t need, if it is going to survive the decade is another CEO, (or board members) who receive extremely large financial rewards irrespective of whether the company performs well or badly under their leadership. What is an utter tragedy is just how many people's futures disappeared to fund the last under-performing CEO's pay-off?

    And at the risk of being crude, the other thing AZ could really do with “rightsizing” is the significant number of “parrot managers” who simply repeat the latest corporate mantras – Passion for Customers, Courageous Leadership, blah blah blah. This is not the voice of leadership. It is the noise that sheep make when they are in a field together.

    In my experience across several varying departments, cuts have gone so deep within AZ that critical jobs are now unfilled. By critical, I mean that those jobs constitute an essential link in a chain, without which a process or system will fail. IT services have been victim to short term cost savings without senior AZ managers being prepared to stick their head above the parapet and fight for the reliable IT infrastructure and support that are critical to a research and development organisation. Huge numbers of man years are being wasted as staff do battle with email systems that are constantly falling over, IT infrastructure that is completely inflexible and inappropriate for people needing to work with novel and experimental software, call centres in India who have no grasp of the problems. The situation is similar with Facilities Management: key staff who understood the site and the facilities have been replaced by generic/on-call engineering staff who do not have the detailed/expert knowledge to support the kind of specialist processes at the sites (or to work safely around the hazards) The result? Staff who have studied to postgraduate level and beyond, whilst being paid salaries to reflect that, are devoting significant percentages of their time in work trying to make arrangements to get a burst pipe repaired, or gain security access to a building where there is a fault with the door (again), or get the toilets fixed (again).

    And what about the scientific and clinical expertise? AZ has been haemorrhaging talent for the last couple of years. Newly installed managers, with no knowledge of current staff abilities and limited understanding of their own roles, are understandably failing to recognise key staff and hence stem the loss of the talent that will be critical for the company to survive in the future. Now recreate that mix of management inexperience and lack of individual staff awareness and marry it up to a large scale paper-based redundancy program, (managed by external HR contractors for who it is irrelevant whether AZ survives or not). You get the same problem but at a significantly greater order of magnitude......and the long term consequences present a vastly greater hurdle. If AZ were to find itself sitting on the world’s greatest blockbuster tomorrow, where would the talent come from to develop and get it to market before the competition?

    There is a continuous drive from AZ management for leadership at all levels of staff from bottom up. It is time for the people at the top who have been pushing this philosophy to start walking the walk and demonstrating what's expected on this. Leadership is a top down process – instead of telling AZ staff what to do, it’s time to show them.

    Can AZ make a comeback? At this moment I think its poised on the brink, however I also think there is still a chance it can be turned around - BUT (and it's a big "but") it needs someone at the wheel to make that happen...... rather than the ships officers asking the crew to collectively steer the boat.


  2. Helpful (7)

    "Toxic corporate culture"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Research Scientist in Alderley, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Senior Research Scientist in Alderley, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at AstraZeneca full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Nice facilities, well-funded labs, nice working environment, flexible benefits.

    Cons

    Forced-ranking produces toxic culture that focusses on picking on the negatives and finding easy victims. Works on a system of favourites and old-boys networks - it's more important who you're friends with than what you do. Culture is one of fear and paranoia.

    Constant reorganisations, cuts and closures.

    Rapidly declining revenues due to patent expiries make for a very uncertain future.

    Advice to Management

    Forced ranking didn't work at Enron, it killed innovation at Microsoft and it's doing the same to AZ.


  3. "Chaos - leave well alone"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Administrator in London, England (UK)
    Former Contractor - Administrator in London, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at AstraZeneca as a contractor (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Their products are great, nice offices shame it's not nice working there.

    Cons

    PAs are arrogant - don't temp there! IT is appalling for such a big company - 3 people trying to sort out every IT issue at Kingdom Street - overstretched is an understatement. Hot desking hated by all. It's a matrix company in a mess that has lost its grip on what it's trying to achieve. Too many sections are outsourced and many staff are unhappy.

    Advice to Management

    Sort out your IT and your hot desking situation. Also sort out or get rid of some of your arrogant PAs.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    "The Company Has Lost The Plot"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Regulatory Manager in Nether Alderley, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Regulatory Manager in Nether Alderley, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at AstraZeneca full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    The Company offers a free counciling service to employees. There is a large take up of this due to working conditions that verge on intolerable yet remain within employment law.

    Cons

    Incompetent senior managers. Cottage industry made of performance management. Yet no budget available to reward high performers. Lost the focus on science. Hare brain scheme to relocate R&D to Cambridge. Wasted lots of money.

    Advice to Management

    Go back to the European work ethics of yesteryear. The soul of the company has been destroyed by US influence. Absolute stuff and nonsense that relocating to Cambridge in the UK will invigorate R&D. The Company has lost very talented individuals who have voted with their feet.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "better out than in"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Scientist in Alderley Edge, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Senior Scientist in Alderley Edge, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at AstraZeneca full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    reasonably high salary for the industry

    Cons

    a foul culture devoid of integrity that promotes stealing work and abusing colleagues to promote yourself at any cost.

    Advice to Management

    promote a culture of team working over individualism and stop communicating entirely in meaningless business jargon. "If you expect a vipers nest of politicalness then that's what you will get." - Astro Teller, Google.


  7. "Insane workload"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Macclesfield, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Macclesfield, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at AstraZeneca full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Very delivery oriented which is good.

    Cons

    Double IT delivery for half cost, the strain and pressure is unbelievable. Unforgiving leaders. Makes life miserable, impacts sleep, impacts family. Unrelenting. 60-80 hour works are punishing.

    Advice to Management

    The current pace of delivery is unsustainable, what will break is the people trying to deliver.


  8. Helpful (1)

    "Blame Culture, managers encourage you to NOT give bad news"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    This is going to be hard, hmmmm. Some of the people are ok.

    Cons

    AZ, what a shame. This place is blame central. Managers and Directors protecting their own roles by not wanting to give bad news that their reports tell them about and then they blame them when things go wrong. Pretty horrendous place to work if you are not a Scientist. Absolute obsession with outsourcing everything or in case of IT sending it to India, where they employee 5 times the people at less cost but get half the competence, such a bad model. AZ trying to put a shine on everything with their new HQ in cambridge which is quickly turning into a lavish money pit and no doubt the CEO's foley.

    Advice to Management

    Stop the blame culture, stop the message that you should never give your manager or a director bad news as problems get buried.


  9. "Full time employee"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in Cambridge, East of England, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Director in Cambridge, East of England, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great R&D history. Promising pipeline.
    Seems the people are competent but they are not always placed on environments where they can perform

    Cons

    Highly political and fragmented, leading to the status of non-performing or dysfunctional teams.
    Talent management and promotion are not always co ducted in a fair way.

    Advice to Management

    May need some structural changes in some areas. Need to improve leadership of many middle-senior management,


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Start living in the real world. Become competitive, not cosy."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Director in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Director in London, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The pay is good, and some of the people are good.

    Cons

    Massively over-manned and over-managed. When anyone else would have one person doing a job, AZ has at least 3, and four extra layers of managers and directors. Instead of merging Astra and Zeneca - both of which were fat and overmanned - they just added them together and put in a couple of extra layers of directors and managers. Having grown fat and lazy with great stock programmes, folk just turn up for work and don't seek the improvements in how the business works that will shortly be needed for survival. The whole culture is just waiting for the next "blockbuster" drug that will make them all real comfortable again. They don't realise that their old model of blockbusters and stupid healthcare plans and governments paying them too much just will not work in the future. The folk from N. America intensely dislike the Brits, the Brits hate the folk from N America, and the Swedes get pushed around by the Americans and Brits.

    Advice to Management

    Cut the organisation by 40% and reduce the number of managers and directors and VPs by 60%. Change the top of the HR team so that you have some really capable people there. Stop the nonsense about "Globalisation". It is costing you so much money.


  11. Helpful (3)

    "Not for the faint hearted"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Legal Counsel in Macclesfield, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Legal Counsel in Macclesfield, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    It's a lovely physical working environment, beautiful surroundings and nice offices. There's a pub onsite, a shop and lovely walks in the summer. There is always plenty of legal work so you'll never get bored and people are generally nice, educated and polite.

    Cons

    You need to be aggressive, focused and ambitious to get ahead at AZ. It's very much who you know, not how well you do. Managers have been there for years and don't want to go anywhere else, so they are not particularly progressive (eg flexible working as an alien concept when I was there). Salaries are not the highest and bonuses tend to be on the low side, but that depends on where you are in the organisation. I worked like a dog on a long term project and was given a bonus of £2k whereas the project manager's bonus enabled him to buy a house in Italy! Hmmm, bit of a mismatch there since I probably spent longer on the project than he did.

    Advice to Management

    Step out of the past and into the future which involves trusting employees more to work flexibly and remotely. Reward employees for a job well done and stop focusing so much on managers who are usually only productive because they have a good team supporting them.


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