Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews | Glassdoor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated September 18, 2017
236 reviews

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3.6
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Susan Desmond-Hellmann
74 Ratings

236 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great benefits for full-time employees, not interns or part time (in 37 reviews)

  • Great mission, fabulous people and actively working to get better all the time, with the resources to do it (in 29 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. Helpful (2)

    "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.


  2. "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.

  3. "Excellent Company"

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

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

    Pros

    The mission, the BENEFITS, the travel, and the people - it is an amazing place to work.

    Cons

    Most people in administrative roles are over qualified for their job. There isn't a clear career path at the organization.

    Advice to Management

    Support the administrative staff in opportunities to connect with the mission.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Sep 8, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your feedback.


  4. "Program Officer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Inspiring mission, systems level problem solving, excellent benefits, strong networking opportunities in field of specialization

    Cons

    Politically motivated culture, not collaborative, limited career development opportunities

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Sep 8, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks for your review. It's great to hear that you are seeing system level problem solving and external and internal networking both of which are critical to our ongoing success. As you know, we are... More


  5. Helpful (8)

    "Potential to be a truly premier employer"

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

    I worked at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    High caliber staff; mission-driven organization that is having global impact; challenging work that provides career development opportunities; exceptional benefits; very competitive base pay for most roles; workplace amenities.

    Cons

    High workload and ineffective prioritization by leadership and managers creates employee burnout/frustration and failure to focus on highest priorities (org wide challenge); ongoing turnover of execs on operations side; inability to figure out business and resourcing model for global strategies; ongoing strategy changes/new directions require employees to be highly change agile and comfortable dealing with ambiguity, reorgs, new managers, etc.; terrible commute for Seattle employees due to Mercer/S. Lake Union congestion

    Advice to Management

    Continue to turn the boat with cultural transformation work that emphasizes trust, respect, transparency and creating (positive) energy; find ways to simplify work and systems rather than creating additional complexity; develop and hold managers accountable for leading teams and developing direct reports; keep ego/arrogance in check; build muscles around prioritizing work and identifying work that will not be done or will be done at a slower pace given resource constraints - communicate broadly when these leadership decisions are made.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Sep 8, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. It's always very helpful to hear from former leaders about their experience at the foundation. I hope you are engaged with the Alumni Network. Depending on when you... More


  6. "Great org!"

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

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

    Pros

    Great group of people working there.

    Cons

    There are no cons I can think of including

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the great work.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jun 24, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks for the great comments. It's nice to hear that you are enjoying your time at the foundation. If you ever have anything to share, please don't hesititate to reach out to me... More


  7. "Great place to work"

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

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

    Pros

    Great mission, fabulous people and actively working to get better all the time, with the resources to do it.

    Cons

    Demanding culture with lots of people trying to generate results that, when unaligned, can lead to friction.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on alignment around common goals and allocate resources, people and funds, according to those goals.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jun 24, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. It is nice to hear a new employee having such a positive experience. As you know, we are definitely focusing on Direction, Alignment and Committment so that the... More

  8. "Associate Program Officer"

    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

    Great mission, but difficult working environment.

    Cons

    Very competitive staff, Managers who a subject matter experts, but weak managers

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jul 5, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks for your review. As Sue Hellmann has said, "everyone deserves a great manager." The Executive Leadership team, the HR organization and many other leaders are working to make this a consistent... More


  9. "IT"

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

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

    Pros

    Great mission. Great Benefits. Employees genuinely want to do the right thing.

    Cons

    Constant re-orgs that lead to change fatigue. IT specifically, is now on our third CIO (one CDO) just in the last 4 years. It's hard to find challenging and compelling work in IT. It's easy to feel disconnected to the programmatic work when working in IT or other operations teams.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jun 24, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    I'm sorry you are having some negative experiences within our IT function. Would you like to discuss how we can do better within your function. The work that our IT team does is so critical to the... More


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Great mission poor culture"

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

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

    Pros

    Purpose driven organization, smart colleagues, amazing benefits. Some improvements recently in the culture.

    Cons

    Low trust culture, backstabbing at senior levels which undermines confidence that culture improvement efforts actually matter. big talk about diversity but senior staff especially ELT has few women and there has been a mass exodus of senior women at DD and above levels - especially women of color. presidents and directors are real decision makers on budget with few incentives for them to collaborate across their areas.

    Advice to Management

    Walk the talk on diversity especially women and people of color at senior levels. Empower the CEO to make decisions instead of just talking about culture. Keep trying, I guess

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jun 24, 2017 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks for the review. Depending on when you departed, you might not be aware of the work we are doing around Diversity Equity and Inclusion. While we always want to do better around retention, our... More


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