Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews | Glassdoor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated November 25, 2018
160 reviews

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

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Pros
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. Helpful (3)

    "Inspiring place to work"

    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 3 years)

    Pros

    I'm constantly inspired by the work supported by BMGF, which impacts some of the biggest problems in global health. As a private foundation, they can take controversial stances and innovate in ways you often don't see elsewhere in development. I feel lucky to contribute.

    Employees are treated very well. The benefits are amazing

    Cons

    There are the usual office politics, and a lot of credit-seeking driven by individual egos, but I think that is pretty normal in an organization, especially one trying to attract 'the best'.

    Employees are treated very well, sometimes too well (e.g. business class flights), which is uncomfortable when thinking about the geographies we serve and how that money could be better spent.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Aug 3, 2018 – Director, People & Organization Potential

    Our ability to take risks that others can't or won't, to think long-term, and ultimately to innovate in solving some of the world's toughest challenges really is what makes the Gates foundation... More


  2. "Customer Service"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Customer Service in Mary, AL
    Former Employee - Customer Service in Mary, AL
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    all good! I really enjoyed it

    Cons

    none! I cant think of anything

    Advice to Management

    keep working

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Senior Program Officer"

    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
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Bill and Melinda are tackling some of the toughest problems in the world. They do not give up on challenging issues. Employees are mission driven and care about the work they do. Lots of smart people to work with. Great benefits- full year off for paternity/maternity with pay.

    Cons

    US Program senior leadership jumps when Bill raises an eyebrow. There is constant change on the tools used to get the job done. Silly issues like open space and where people sit dominate office politics. Motto is "overthinking analysis" which leads to public paralysis. Most of the work is feeding the machine.

    Advice to Management

    Listen and act to people lower down the food chain in organization. Stop focusing to redoing slide decks 100 times and rewriting memos. Rethink business class flying status that leads to entitlement mentality of certain employees.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Strategy Officer"

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

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

    Pros

    Good Work and Global Focus

    Cons

    A lot of organization re-structuring


  5. Helpful (10)

    "So much that's good with a couple of fatal flaw"

    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
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    -Inspiring mission with ability to connect your work every day to that mission
    -Opportunity to do interesting and novel work constantly; if you are willing to lean in to it, you can find tons of ways to add value
    -Amazing benefits - frankly, I can't imagine finding better ones anywhere
    -Smart and motivated colleagues
    -Decent work/life balance (somewhat depends on your team but if you're willing to set personal boundaries, people generally respect them)
    -Senior leadership's priorities are in the right place

    Cons

    -No clear or logical pathways for promotion
    -Job title in the program officer family can feel arbitrarily assigned
    -Visible voices and charisma are valued over quality of work execution; translates into a culture where men are systematically valued over women
    -You need a manager who values your work and advocates for you to move ahead; if you don't have that, you are out of luck
    -They over-hire and hire often without a clear idea of what folks will do when they get there
    -Senior leadership priorities don't always get translated to action that makes sense

    Advice to Management

    Create clear, objective pathways for promotion and assignation of job title that do not overly rely on a strong manager; create clearer processes for justifying headcount, including why a senior vs. non-senior position is needed - without this good people will be wasted in their unclear positions and eventually leave


  6. Helpful (15)

    "Noble Mission - challenging culture"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The inspirational mission and the strategic vision for development that has a real impact.

    Cons

    The mission does not translate into a culture that promotes real diversity and gets the best from its employees. Working there feels like a transactional experience for many, and in places it tolerates very poor management.

    Advice to Management

    Promote real diversity including at the most senior leadership levels


  7. Helpful (10)

    "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

  8. Helpful (2)

    "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


  9. Helpful (1)

    "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


  10. Helpful (2)

    "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