Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews | Glassdoor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated June 6, 2018
154 reviews

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3.7
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Susan Desmond-Hellmann
47 Ratings

154 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "Great benefits and great mission" (in 39 reviews)

  • "Great mission and incredible benefits" (in 35 reviews)

Cons
  • "Work / life balance not always great" (in 19 reviews)

  • "Decision making is often hamstrung by politics" (in 19 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (8)

    "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


  2. "Associate Program Officer, Global Health"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Program Officer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Associate Program Officer 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

    Great mission and incredible benefits

    Cons

    Work / life balance not always great.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    May 9, 2018 – Director, People & Organization Potential

    Love hearing about your foundation experience. Interestingly, I learned at a recent gathering of HR heads of large foundations that the issue of work/life balance was a top concern across the entire... More

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Great place to work, but not a place where everyone will thrive"

    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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    1. Opportunity to play a part in addressing some of the biggest, most important challenges of our time
    2. You'll get professional opportunities here you won't get anywhere else (e.g. who you get to work with, events you get to participate in, speakers that come to the foundation)
    3. Unparalleled benefits
    4. Beautiful workspace
    5. Very flexible working schedule

    Cons

    You're experience will vary widely team-by-team, but basically:

    1. The foundation has yet to create a culture and work environment where people of different backgrounds can thrive. Right now, it favors workaholic types with American communication styles (e.g. speaking in bullets, very direct)
    2. Pretty much constant change--the decision-making process for which is not always transparent or fair.
    3. While the CEO and executive leadership team are trying to address this, managers are generally pretty weak. Don't expect a lot of time or support in terms of mentorship or support to grow your career.
    4. Because there are few open positions, it can be hard to "move up"--especially from PO to SPO and SPO to DD.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jun 18, 2018 – Director, People & Organization Potential

    In reading your thoughtful comments, my sense is that there's near universal agreement amongst all of us at BMGF on these "pros".... as well as wide agreement these "cons" can be improved upon, with... More


  4. "Overall Great Opportunity"

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

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

    Pros

    Excellent Benefits
    Good but not great salary
    Good Work Life Balance (depending on team)

    Cons

    Constant organizational changes
    Little internal advancement

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jun 18, 2018 – Director, People & Organization Potential

    Appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts -chris.ernst@gatesfoundation.org


  5. "Excellent benefits"

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

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

    Pros

    Working at the Gates Foundation comes with a fantastic suite of benefits including 1 year maternity/ paternity leave. To a one, the employees are focused on making the world a better place.

    Cons

    As the biggest foundation in the world, there’s a fair amount of bureaucracy. The ease of dealing with it is largely dependent on the particular manager.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    May 2, 2018 – Director, People & Organization Potential

    Thanks for your input and we will remain 100% all-in on "everyone deserves a great manager." -chris.ernst@gatesfoundation.org


  6. "Great mission, great people, challenging org politics"

    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
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    People are kind and are there for a purpose; mission is very inspiring

    Cons

    It is really hard to get things done; norm of consensus decision making means everyone gets to weigh in on everything; program areas have all the power, operations teams are second class citizens

    Advice to Management

    Get closer to the actual work inside the foundation, not just to the work being doing by grantees in the field.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Too many layers and constant process change"

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

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

    Pros

    Excellent pay and benefits. Flexibility in developing and managing grants.

    Cons

    Too many layers of "managers" and "consultants" with minimal development experience between program officers and the co chairs. More talk about "rigor" and "intellectual dialogue" than actually existed.

    Advice to Management

    Hire people with international development experience and sound technical background. Reduce the layers that provide no added value.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    May 2, 2018 – Director, People & Organization Potential

    We continue to reflect and rethink on the many types of diverse skills, experiences backgrounds and life stories we need to realize our audacious goals. Your advice on hiring backgrounds is... More

  8. "Mission Possible"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Project Manager in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Senior Project Manager in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Mission, vision, and strategy for their giving is clear.

    Cons

    Mission and vision for internal process could be improved

    Advice to Management

    Improve your processes, create a clear roadmap for efficiency and effectiveness, spend less on process administration so that you could truly focus on giving. Complete a project, then make adjustments based on lessons learned. Don't waste money on a 5-year project; it will be obsolete by the time it's implemented.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Mar 27, 2018 – Director, People & Organization Potential

    Yes, we are a bit schizophrenic in this way! On one hand, we're grounded in the ethos of "impatient optimism" which compels us to solve big, important problems NOW! On the other, we can't seem to... More


  9. Helpful (3)

    "Most incredible workplace in this world!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Finance Leader in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Finance Leader 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

    When I joined the foundation ~ 2 years ago, I hardly understood the impact it would have on my life, both personally and professionally. I have never met a more passionate, kind and humble group of people. I feel privileged and honored to have stood by your side and call you my colleague. Even though my time there was short - I wouldn't trade it for the world! This is one of the best jobs in this world and we are so blessed to be able to be part of this mission.

    Pros include:
    1. Surrounded by some of the most talented and caring people on this planet.
    2. Great work life balance with competitive salary and benefits. The benefits are almost too good.
    3. Opportunity to work on the the toughest problems in this world.
    4. Incredibly humbling to work for Bill and Melinda Gates. They are a huge inspiration to this world.
    5. Making this world a better place for many generations to come.
    6. CEO, Sue is very inspiring and doing a great job at running the org.

    Cons

    Overall, the foundation is a phenomenal place. Here are some areas for development.
    1. I really wish there were company wide OKRs to be shared x-foundation. The teams / departments felt siloed.
    2. Program ELT are very "formal" and it was difficult to connect with them as people. I felt like I needed a PHD in every subject on this planet from an Ivy League institution to even understand them during Org wide All Hands.
    3. Instill pay for performance to motivate teams to work better together.
    4. Over collaboration: When working on programs / projects, the foundation tends to over collaborate and ensures that feedback from every person and use case is taken into consideration. This makes it difficult to launch systems, processes, etc.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Feb 20, 2018 – Director, People & Organization Potential

    Tackling tough, meaningful problems...with caring, talented people....and progressive salary, benefits and work-life support. This is the goal for everyone at the Gates foundation. Thank you for... More


  10. Helpful (5)

    "All lives do not have equal value"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Program Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Senior Program Assistant in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great place to work for it’s name caché. Amazing benefits. You’re surrounded by smart people.

    Cons

    Bureaucracy at it’s worst. Not a nimble or adaptable organization. The phrase navel gazing comes to mind. Limited upward career mobility.

    Advice to Management

    Don’t fall into the trap of the hive mentality.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Mar 27, 2018 – Director, People & Organization Potential

    When the foundation feels bureaucratic, slow, or inward facing, that's on us. Unlike so many players in the sector - governments, multilateral organizations, large nonprofits, even corporations - our... More


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