Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews | Glassdoor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reviews

Updated February 15, 2017
60 reviews

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3.0
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Susan Desmond-Hellmann
18 Ratings

60 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • This company is known for it's great benefits (in 33 reviews)

  • BMGF has a great mission - can be very inspiring to contribute (in 25 reviews)

Cons
  • The issues that are worked on are so important that work life balance can be a struggle (in 16 reviews)

  • decision making either drawn out or not thought thoroughly through (in 17 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Program Officer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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

    Good compensation. Smart people. Friendly colleagues.

    Cons

    Bureaucracy makes it difficult to achieve goals.

    Advice to Management

    Prioritize staff management.


  2. "Great if you are on the right team"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Pros

    The benefits are amazing. Campus is beautiful. You feel that you are a part of good work in the world.

    Cons

    It's an org full of Type-A workaholics. Your experience will vary wildly depending on whether your manager has the time and/or ability to manage their team.


  3. "Program Assistant Volt"

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

    I have been working at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a contractor

    Pros

    Wonderful people and interesting work.

    Cons

    Contract. I can't travel international without approval or I do not receive benefits.


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Great mission, management needs work"

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

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

    Pros

    There is something about walking through the doors at the Gates Foundation that is super empowering. The Foundation is taking on enormous challenges, and it feels good to contribute to that mission.

    Cons

    The ability to collaborate across programs needs some work. There are some managers who use fear as a strategy, which seems very counterintuitive to the overall mission.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

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

    Happy New Year and thanks so much for your review. I share your experience when walking through the doors. In order to create a more powerful collaboration across programs,our leaders will be ... More


  6. Helpful (5)

    "Manager"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    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 (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    This is a great mission and benefits.

    Cons

    The company culture is not an easy place to work.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Aug 29, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. If you have more specifics around the culture, please don't hesitate to reach out to me directly. pam.yanchik@gatesfoundation.org


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Program Assistant Role in Global Development"

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

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

    Pros

    Amazing network, great benefits, work from home Fridays, knowledge acquisition. There are always speakers and big events going on at Gates. Attending these events was like getting a masters in topic specific public health without paying tuition. There is a lot of opportunity to learn at Gates.

    Cons

    The culture can be quite cut throat and the tension around the office can get intense. There a many systems in place that do not work effectively and hinder performance.

    Advice to Management

    Work on organization culture. The elitism and ego of many of the higher-ups needs to be toned down.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Aug 24, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your review. I can understand why you were concerned about the culture and the intensity and tension you experienced which is why Sue Hellmann and the executive leadership is so ... More


  8. Helpful (2)

    "Headed in the right direction"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Program Coordinator
    Current Employee - Senior Program Coordinator
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    The mission and vision are amazing. Our reach in the world is inspiring, and great for making career connections.

    Cons

    The internal culture needs some work. We are making efforts to change for the better, but it will certainly take time.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Jul 24, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post your review.


  9. Helpful (8)

    "great mission, amazing benefits, but..."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Everyone connects with this organization's mission. For a non-profit, you can't find better benefits. The most amazingly talented group of colleagues I've ever worked with. Flexible work schedules (if you and your particular team take advantage of it) including working from home at times.

    Cons

    The exponential growth a number of years ago caused so many lingering internal business system and process challenges to getting things done. Leadership changes seem to just reset the clock so you have to go back and redo things yet again that you already struggled to deal with in the past.

    Advice to Management

    Trust the people who've been there for a long time and can put the spotlight on what the underlying causes are for some of the internal problems. Managing headcount by an FTE limit versus an overall budget per team or division is creating a top-heavy structure with fewer of the 'doers' who really make the work happen.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Sep 6, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback and advice to the management team. As you may be aware, the organization is working to transform both our systems and our internal processes but this won't ... More


  10. Helpful (15)

    "Inspiring mission, too bogged down in internal politics"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The pay and benefits are amazing, and the mission is inspiring. In my experience I've been able to professionally develop and advance within the organization, although I agree with other reviews that these opportunities can be highly dependent on supportive teams and managers. Representing the foundation you get to be a part of many high-level conversations at the global level and benefit from working with partners who are at the forefront of the field in both research and implementation.

    Cons

    The work environment is very politically charged and it is easy to get bogged down in internal churn. I don't know if it is typical for this size of an organization, but the number of reorgs seems unnecessary and a huge barrier for getting work done. It's also tough for morale when smart and effective people are getting laid off and people who are good at upward politics but seem to care less about the actual work are recognized and promoted.

    Advice to Management

    Start paying attention to execution and results and not just big new ideas. Hold leaders and managers accountable for creating healthy team cultures that are free of fear.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 7, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback. It sounds like you've had many positive experiences representing the foundation. As you know we are working hard on the culture and on identifying ... More


  11. Helpful (22)

    "It really depends on your team"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    -These are the smartest people I've ever worked with. Very little "dead weight" that you find at other organizations in this field. Most people here are here because they want to be, otherwise they could make a lot more money in big pharma.
    -Compared to other non-profits, staff are very well supported (in terms of assistants, travel, etc.) Probably less than private sector though.
    -No easy problems. The work is always challenging.
    -Great benefits.

    Cons

    -The mandate is always expanding, but human resources are closely capped. Always asked to do more with less.
    -Happiness here really depends on your team. A few teams are really well-managed, and those folks are very happy. But that's the minority.
    -Really top-heavy structure that focuses on bringing in top talent at the top but does not work to grow their people from within.
    -Many technical experts put into management positions that are not in their skill set.
    -Tendency to gloss over the root causes of staff dissatisfaction by having more "team-building" and parties, but not fixing fundamental flaws.
    -Program assistant and contract staff are often treated wretchedly. We hire all these bright, enthusiastic kids in their early 20s with MAs already who think being a PA is a foot in the door here, but it isn't, and then they are so unhappy in assistant roles.

    Advice to Management

    -#1 is hire managers to manage people and technical experts to manage grants. Technical experts usually make really poor managers, which makes those under them fail as well.
    -Think through team structure and your business model. Do you want to grow talent within, or hire at the top and have junior staff cycle in and out? Either model is fine, but pick one and clearly articulate it so that everyone's expectations are managed.
    -Hire program assistants who are admin professionals and want that for their career. Everyone will be happier.
    -Focus the mission and kill some strategies, or expand headcount. We can't keep doing more with the current staff levels.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Response

    Nov 7, 2016 – Head of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

    Thanks so much for your feedback. Much of your advice is truly part of the work of me and my team and I would love to sit down to hear from you other ideas. If you'd like to have coffee some time ... More



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