Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews | Glassdoor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated December 14, 2017
245 reviews

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3.4
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Susan Desmond-Hellmann
81 Ratings

245 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great benefits for full-time employees, not interns or part time (in 38 reviews)

  • Great mission, fabulous people and actively working to get better all the time, with the resources to do it (in 32 reviews)

Cons
  • Work life balance might be difficult (in 17 reviews)

  • Extreme bias btwn full time and contract employee (in 15 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "2-5 yrs is good"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    Fabulous connections, excellent mission, smart and innovative people

    Cons

    lots of power politics, lack of women in mid/senior level leadership.

    Advice to Management

    Hire more women directors, seek more anonymous freeform feedback.


  2. Helpful (3)

    "Great mission, extremely poor management"

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

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time

    Pros

    Great mission as set out by Bill & Melinda Gates

    Cons

    The environment is toxic, management is horrible, HR is abysmal, and there are re-organizations annually.

    Advice to Management

    Clean house and rid the organization of the toxic, incompetent HR management.

  3. "Strategy, Planning & Management Intern"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Fascinating people and exposure, great institutional resources, amazing work culture

    Cons

    Not enough focus on professional development and training

    Advice to Management

    Build more training programs for younger people, hire more younger people to carry the torch

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Oct 30, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your feedback. It sounds like you enjoyed your summer at the foundation. If you'd like to share more about your experience, please reach out to the intern team to provide your... More


  4. "Program Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    BMGF has a great mission and vision and the majority.

    Cons

    A rare few of the Program Officers were unreasonable and difficult to please, using the program assistants as personal assistants even though this was warned about by senior staff.

    Advice to Management

    I wish middle management managed with the same idealism for innovation, leadership, and support that reflected by the senior executives at Starting Gates.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Oct 30, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thank you so much for taking the time to provide your review. I am sorry that you experienced a few Program Officers that were difficult to work with. As you likely know, we are working very hard to... More


  5. Helpful (5)

    "Strong mission, hard culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Smart colleagues, mission, pay, benefits, physical space, impact on the world. Some marginal improvements in the culture. CEO ethical and has good ideas. Bill and Melinda are inspiring and the work is really important.

    Cons

    I’ve been at the foundation for 10 years and the lack of collaboration at exec level remains a challenge. Lot of good talk about culture but everyone knows that senior execs throw each other under the bus and go to Bill to get funding. Loss of top operations leaders (COO earlier, CFO leaving soon), who modeled the right collaborative behavior and culture attributes, has been disheartening. Commute to/from east side getting worse and worse.

    Advice to Management

    Keep trying because employees really want more improvement.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 27, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thank you so much for your frank feedback. Based upon your tenure, I have to believe you are committed to the mission of the foundation. I thought you might begin seeing the improvements at both the... More


  6. Helpful (6)

    "Great Benefits, Tough Environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Senior Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Terrific mission, great benefits, lots of opportunity to do good work. Looks good on the CV.

    Cons

    A perfectionist culture, (everything is "over-worked"). This probably comes from the style and preferences at the very top (and hence is unlikely to change). The CEO is trying to improve management capabilities (as distinct from scientific and leadership capabilities), but this is slow going. Arrogance is still a big problem in some quarters.

    Advice to Management

    CEO level: keep at it!
    President/Director level: have some humility and perspective. Listen to Sue, she has the right ideas.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Oct 30, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful review and in particular your advice to Sue. As you know, Sue is a very powerful and thoughtful leader that is focused on the impact the foundation has in the... More


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Anonymous"

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

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great benefits and pay for non-profit. Outstanding mission and smart, committed colleagues.

    Cons

    Very politically charged environment that leads to poor morale and attrition. HR has little influence in helping to change the culture but perhaps with Sue's leadership things will improve over time.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on hiring leaders who are humble, possess a healthy EQ and are passionate and committed to serving the mission

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 27, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    I appreciate you taking the time to post your review. I appreciate your hope that Sue's leadership will help to change the culture. I know many of the team members have seen this change already in... More

  8. Helpful (11)

    "Bad culture and employees are used, burnt out and discarded."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Senior Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    The BMGF is a place where you can make a difference, but see below for the downsides. Working for the BMGF is very interesting and can be rewarding, but you need to celebrate internally because no one ever says 'thank you' or 'good job'.

    Cons

    Terrible work environment and culture. The pace and the demands of the job eventually wear you down mentally and physically and many employees end up needing mental health care. Everyone who works on a scientific or technical team is eventually forced out of the organization by their manager or management, usually in a horrible undignified way. Employees are used by the organization until they are burned out and then they are cast adrift. The co-chairs when asked will admit that they aren't looking for long term employees. What matters most to the BMGF is the Gates' family brand.

    Advice to Management

    The BMGF is an NGO that behaves like Microsoft. The culture and work environment are not good and most employees leave the organization damaged in some way by the experience. The BMGF management should treat their employees like they have value and are not just grist for the mill.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 27, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. While it is very sad to read your review, I'd like to better understand your perspective since it doesn't reflect the changes that leadership is committed to within... More


  9. Helpful (4)

    "Nowhere else like here"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Director in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Today I had an amazing lunch conversation at Gates with a colleague talking about how one of our grants is enabling the largest mapping of social networks ever attempted - across nearly 800 villages in Honduras - to accelerate the speed and adoption of transformative health outcomes. I looked up and realized similar inspiring and innovative conversations were happening all around me. Smart, creative, passionate, committed colleagues, all leaning in to changing the world at scale. Yes, there are challenging days yet that's often the case when trying to do big things that matter. It's a real privilege to be here.

    Cons

    Under Sue (CEO), the foundation is making huge strides forward in everything from culture to management and from simplification to fun. Yet, there are still managers and leaders here not fully on the bus, so the place can feel uneven. Best to understand the nature and dynamics of the team you are joining beforehand.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the pedal to the medal on changing not just the world around us, but enabling us to become the best version of ourselves too.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Oct 30, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    What a great post. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. If you'd like to share more about leaders and managers not fully on the bus, me or one of my colleagues can sit down and chat with you to gain a... More


  10. Helpful (3)

    "World's richest foundation, worst job"

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

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Without doubt, BMGF is a place that can do so much good. It has nearly unlimited resources to change the world and make it a better place. The mission is inspiring. The employee benefits are very good, health insurance, 401k contributions and leave surpass your typical job anyday.

    Cons

    It is a pity that BMGF management and work culture suck (pardon the language). There is continuous change with strategy processes that do not make much sense. Senior management egos drive the organization. There is no rules based process, even critical functions like HR are subject to whims of program leaders. As there is no independent Board, such practices flourish. Superior subject matter experts, like a former family pl director, are summarily fired and replaced with management stooges like former HR professionals with no background in the subject. It is a pitiful state of affairs and what is even more pitiful is that leadership at CEO level does not take notice or rectify the situation.

    Advice to Management

    Be honest to the staff, don't have pretend meetings to improve work culture do it for real. Ensure that able and competent staff lead. Institutionalize HR processes and other operations, don't let them be subject to program leadership whims.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 27, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. It is very difficult to read about your experience and your experience of your previous management and culture. I am not certain when you left the foundation but the... More


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