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CS Stars Reviews

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2.5
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Paul Marushka
8 Ratings

39 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Systems Consultant"

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

    I have been working at CS Stars full-time

    Pros

    great work/life balance and flexibility unlike any other company I have worked at

    Cons

    environment can sometimes be too relaxed


  2. "Senior Manager"

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

    I have been working at CS Stars full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Tremendous opportunity IF Marsh & ClearSight leadership could FINALLY align. Great Fortune 500 company benefits. Strong financial backing. A few talented people remain.

    Cons

    Lack of leadership since June when former President resigned and a tremendous amount of turnover the last 4 years plus. There is no consensus on company direction. Employees are not engaged and leaving in droves.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to present & past employees who are the "lifeblood" of the company. Cherish these assets and align with Marsh .

  3. Helpful (5)

    "Business Analyst"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Business Analyst in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Business Analyst in Chicago, IL
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at CS Stars full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great people. Young workforce who are great to work with.

    Cons

    Management floundering for years with no signs of getting better.


  4. Helpful (11)

    "Multiple Roles"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at CS Stars full-time

    Pros

    Lots of opportunity to contribute or try different things if you require very little guidance or supervision. Marsh offers a good benefits package. If you are an average or above contributor, the possibility of losing your job is nearly zero.

    Cons

    Executive team is comprised of a group of individuals who don't necessarily like people therefore they spend very little time developing and coaching their teams. They also don't work together very well; their focus and investments are on their individual agendas, not growing or developing the business as a whole. This permeates everything in the culture from inconsistent middle management and high turn-over to crumbling internal systems and mismanaged customer relationships.

    Advice to Management

    The best bet to change course for this company is to make some changes with Senior Leadership. Start with a true assessment of performance against this year's targets and go from there. In a place where change has been constant (and not always good), accountability needs to start somewhere and the top will set a precedent. Find leaders who like to both deliver/talk about results AND also care about people.


  5. Helpful (9)

    "Rudderless"

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

    I have been working at CS Stars full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    With expanding goals and contracting headcount, you will have ample opportunity to experience projects well outside of your role. The nature of our client base will give you exposure to virtually all industries, through the lens of risk and insurance.

    There are some truly intelligent and insightful employees still left. You can learn more about risk systems, product development, professional services and core business tools while working on some of the biggest and best companies in the world. In some ways we operate in a niche, but this knowledge can easily be applied elsewhere.

    Our parent and sister companies offer a potential out when you reach the insider ceiling. You will likely have exposure to these world class organizations. Capitalize on these exposures by keeping in touch with people you meet there.

    Cons

    At the heart of it all, it would be difficult to assemble an executive leadership team that knows less about the markets we serve and what our clients pay us to do for them. We change direction monthly or weekly, seemingly driven by the HBR book of the month or the latest meeting between our executives the most recent prospect, client, or parent company executive meeting. This expertise is fully leveraged by our parent company who has for many years been driving for aggressive growth while encouraging expense and staff reduction. We hear a lot about investment from our parent, but are then quoted poor margins that still show this investment in our expense, which is then used to justify sub-par raises and bonuses.

    It is clear that we are shrinking through attrition, but hiring has come to a standstill. Even when a manager has approval to interview, and a candidate is found, there will be months of additional approval before an offer will go out. If you can get through the hiring gauntlet there is no formal training department. Individual teams are tasked with ramping up new hires in their spare time without supporting materials or HR guidance.

    We have been told that our culture includes platitudes such as "Innovative", "Results Oriented" and "People Driven", but the organization doesn't support these imposed values. It is hard to imagine a more dictatorial culture with less regard for it's people or their ideas and opinions. Committees are formed and a few thousand dollars is spend every quarter for morale boosting happy hours, but the culture remains top down in both decision making and benefits. Despite many employees with decades of experience, I can think of only a couple examples of promotion, and no examples of important decisions being made below the c-suite. Upper level positions are sourced externally, and where raises had historically been fairly generous, it is assumed those dollars now fund executive comp packages and severance payouts as the executive revolving door spins round and round.

    Ultimately it is not clear how this organization will continue. When this most recent batch of execs runs out of excuses for missing goals, will the same people who hired them be in charge of the new search? Lord knows candidates won't be sourced from within.

    Advice to Management

    Stop planning and start doing. This includes saying no to ideas outside of our core, and focusing on executing commitments made to your clients and employees.

    As hard as it may be, explain to your handlers what business we are really in, and what the true growth expectations are. If growth requires unfunded moves to new markets, restate goals to match expenses.

    Driving away good business and good employees has built competition where it barely existed before. Bear this in mind when focusing on those brass rings.


  6. Helpful (9)

    "Too little too late"

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

    I worked at CS Stars full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    - Benefits are terrific, as they should be from a financial broker whose subsidiary deals in such things
    - A large percentage of the people come from the era when the company was fun and only loosely controlled by the parent company

    Cons

    - The ever changing organizational structure, including some volatile management changes
    - Despite an attempt to stay with current technology, supporting internal technology is ancient
    - Salaries and bonuses are not competitive
    - Colleagues do not have the autonomy that is befitting of a technology company to inspire innovation

    Advice to Management

    I'm admittedly out of the loop and have not witnessed recent changes, but I left due to the cons above. Despite annual promises of things getting better, new initiatives would always supercede existing ones before they could get off the ground and become effective. Goal-setting was a highly touted annual event that always became meaningless when shooting for a moving target all the time. Contact with current employees tells me that while there are lots of changes occurring, these core issues still remain.


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Things are changing"

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

    I have been working at CS Stars full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Instability in leadership over the past 4 years caused the company to lose focus. The new leadership group combined with Marsh leadership, has now identified a path for STARS. There is excitement, and a renewed focus on the product. If the company can stay focused, happy days could be ahead at STARS.
    - Excellent Benefits as part of Marsh
    - Flexible Schedule with WFH options
    - Penny pinching days seem to be behind over
    - Renewed focus on customers
    - Great People, very dedicated

    Cons

    - Extremely Conservative Mother Ship (Marsh)
    - Dreadful Office space and configuration (Chicago, Atlanta & Amarillo)
    - Tied to Marsh IT policies and hardware
    - No defined Career ladder (been working on it for years)
    - Compensation not in-line with industry standards (keep hearing how things are changing)
    - No HR presence. Constant turnover in HR, does speak well for the organization. There are obviously some underlying issues here.

    Advice to Management

    If you truly want to be a technology company and you want to recruit the best young talent, you need to create your own identify. Remodel the office spaces, and create an inviting, collaborating space that people want to work in. Tear down the walls. Exec Team needs to get out with the people on a daily basis. Work with them, share ideas. Personal Relationships build trust and loyalty with employees. There is lots of talk about changes. It's time to Walk the walk.

  8. Helpful (11)

    "Don't be fooled"

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

    I worked at CS Stars full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Was a really great place to work once upon a time, however there are only a few attributes left worth mentioning:
    - A lot of really cool, smart people outside of executive mgmt.
    - Benefits, work-from-home in some roles
    - Marsh-owned - you reap the benefits of working for a mega multi-national company
    - Some investment in the products/people but need a lot more

    Cons

    A lot of talk about becoming a multi-billion dollar organization, but there are dozens of issues that need to be addressed before this might even be possible yet probable:
    - New leadership team (again) who doesn't really know anything about the industries served and who do not have a true stake in the game (they will all be gone within 2-3 years with a golden parachute and new resume line item). Colleagues do not respect them nor feel positively led by them.
    - Marsh is the ultimate Big Brother - creativity and innovation in stifled by them if it doesn't fit what they want STARS for. Will be an operating unit within Marsh in a matter of time, as opposed to a stand-alone company.
    - Compensation is very low, including bonuses, sales incentives, etc.
    - Huge attrition rate - more than 25% - so 1 in every 4 employees will leave the company this year. People not placed in the appropriate roles that fit their knowledge/talent; some roles continue to be filled by completely unqualified resources. Also, not hiring at a clip fast enough to replace the lost colleagues and address the growth the leadership speaks of
    - Growth is less than organic - mostly cost/expense management versus true new growth

    Advice to Management

    See the trend here?
    -Wake up and look around at the mess you have on your hands. Take heed the critiques provided to you from every angle and do something about it. You can not keep ignoring the obvious and hope it gets better on its own. You can not also keep this attitude that everyone is expendable and replaceable as you currently have a knowledge shortage. You may not have been the creators of these problems but you are perpetuators.
    -Decide who you are, if you can. If you are governed at every turn by Marsh and can really only be funded to do what benefits them, be honest about it. Stop pretending that you are interested in or will continue to be in spaces that we all know Marsh isn't and likely wont ever be. Make decisions that are mature and professional for the sake of the clients and the colleagues, and stop stringing everyone along.
    -Pay your people what they are worth. If they get promoted, increase their salary. If they take on more work without a promotion, compensate them. Look at the industry to see what competitors pay, and do what you can to pay at fair market value. Having colleagues considered "deals" and "bargains" is shameful.
    -Change the culture!!! This will take more than an occasional happy hour. Work your hardest to make people feel like they belong to something bigger and important; be honest with them, visit with them, roll up your sleeves and let them know you are in with them. Cant sit in an ivory tower and dictate and then wonder why people would rather WFH and no one comes to your social events.


  9. Helpful (17)

    "Honest Review of STARS"

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

    I have been working at CS Stars full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Benefits are good as they are provided through Marsh (health, dental, vision, 401K matching, ~10 holidays);
    Locations – offices in most big cities (Chicago, Atlanta, Philly, NYC, LA, San Francisco, Dallas);
    Some flexibility with work-from-home, although this is very much dependent on your manager and role;
    Colleagues are very knowledgeable;
    Product direction is new with the unveiling of STARS|One this year (see press releases Oct 2014)

    Cons

    Management at STARS is comprised of a grp of execs with no industry experience. While they have big resume backgrounds, don’t expect any of them to know a thing about our clients, the use of our products in the industries we serve or our colleagues. The executive leadership team is not cohesive, and this bleeds into the organization at every turn. STARS has had four CEOs in the past 3 years and has an ELT with the longest tenure being 18 mos. – that means nothing more than instability and chaos. The current CEO is a slick orator that can be very convincing thru all-colleague calls and presentations, but has yet to deliver and cannot make a personal connection with a colleague or a client to save his life. In summary, this group looks good on paper but falls short in the real world.

    The sales group is divided into geo zones but these zones are so loosely defined and governed that pretty much anything goes so long as you are putting numbers on the board. Half the zone directors have had their role only about a year, with the others being brand new or vacant, so their is little leadership here. Most of the sales reps are also new, and cannot demo our products or promote our value prop without the support of half the organization. Account Managers are basically responsible for everything related to their book regardless of their ability to control the majority of it – growth, service, product, Marsh, etc. Mgmt in sales cares most about new sales, so good luck if you support existing business. STARS also has the worst commission plan in the industry – don’t expect to be a big earner even if you are a big seller.

    The backbone of STARS is our Professional Services group, and it is in traction. To say that it is a mess is an understatement. This group loses colleagues at an astonishing rate, and the impact to our clients and to STARS is detrimental. Implementations take forever and are riddled with issues. Daily support of our clients suffers as the majority of the skilled system consultants have walked over the last year and the mgmt in this group is clueless on how to attract/retain talent or how to structure a support team. The residual services provided in this group are the most solid, but they are picking up the slack for the others and this is impacting their work product as well. This group needs a major overhaul and the introduction of the human element, for any hope of making real change. The question is will the CEO allow this change to happen, or will he once again send everyone down his rabbit hole.

    The direction of STARS is vague. Who are we really and who do we want to be? Are we striving to be the best RIMS in the industry? Do we want to corner the market in data analytics? Are we in the claims business? Do we want more of the healthcare market share, the safety arena, the public sector space? Who knows…But we created this STARS|One product and we think it is going to revolutionize who we are. Maybe, but we should know who we are first before we try to take us to the next level. This identity crisis is a critical factor in the loss of knowledgeable colleagues, good clients and support from the industry. We have had years to figure this out, and haven’t. Is it too late? We have engaged PWC and other external firms to help us here - what about listening to our own people?

    Don’t be fooled, STARS is controlled by Marsh at every turn. We try to say we are own independent company, but the reality is that Marsh tells us what to do and when to do it. It is actually sad these new leaders come into STARS thinking they are going to call the shots, and it is a matter of minutes before they realize this isn’t ever going to happen. And Marsh is a brokerage not a software company, so they impose on us the same goals, limitations, structure, etc. they do on the brokerage. It doesn’t work – like oil and water – and that has proven to be the case for many years. So much so, that all signs indicate that Marsh will be absorbing STARS into their fold within the next 12-18 months. That is obviously concerning to me, both from a long term strategy and job retention perspective – neither looks good.

    Culture has been a big topic here this past year, since most of us have vocalized that it is horrible. Sure there have been some efforts made to address this, but a few happy hours, pizza lunches and trinkets are no substitute for what we lack. This is a sterile place to work, where people simply do not matter to anyone beyond their immediate peers. The family feel from 5+ years ago is gone; the fun times both during work hours and afterwards are virtually non-existent. Our culture reflects the personality of our leadership – cold, stuffy, elitist, dysfunctional, non-empathetic – so colleagues have adapted by withdrawing and developing a heads-down work mentality. There are one or two departments who have created their own mini-culture, but even that has been negatively impacted by the overall organization.

    While, in general our people are the greatest asset, they are also the most fragile. Our attrition rate over the last two years is off the charts. It seems like every day, really good, skilled and knowledgeable people are leaving STARS. Seriously, we hear about departures at least once a week. It used to be people you didn’t know well or that were with the company 1-2 years, but now it is people that are super smart, knowledgeable, experts in their field who are leaving. And we are not replacing them and, if we do, it is with people who lack the industry, market or product experience. Some of it is about compensation – we don’t exactly pay at competitive rates – but mostly it is about job satisfaction and happiness. Our leadership thinks everyone is replaceable, and sure they are, but at what cost? They seem surprised when people leave….publicly bad mouthing and belittling them….but they fail to realize that they are just escaping us. Promotions internally are virtually non-existent. If you do get one, there will likely be no increase in comp or bonus as a result. Most salaried people are expected to work however many hours it takes to get the job done - that is great very once in a while but this is all of the time. We are so understaffed and under-skilled, that the work load on most if crazy. Expect to work nights, weekends, on your vacation just to get an "average" performance rating.

    Advice to Management

    For STARS/Marsh: CEO – look in the mirror and ask yourself are you really the best leader for STARS? Can you put your money where your mouth is? Can you influence and empower your leadership to impact significant change at STARS that will attract, retain and motivate talent while making us wildly successful? Can you make this a great place to work and want to stay at? Do you even want to?

    Marsh – Unless what we expect is true and Marsh really wants STARS to succeed as an independent operating company, ditch this leadership team. You may think you need these 6 people but you actually need the 300+ being dragged behind them more. Take a long look at what has happened here over the last 2 years, what talent has left and the gaps that exist and the clients who have left…..all clues to what is horribly broken. These guys do not have the respect or the following from the masses, so it is next to impossible for them to save this ship from sinking.

    For Job Seekers: Ask a lot of questions when looking at employment here. For sales, ask to see the incentive plan, get insight into the pipeline, talk to existing salespeople, call upon employees and clients who have left (check LinkedIn). For Professional Services, get insight into the pipeline and project back-log, get a copy of a current project plan, talk to existing colleagues in your same role in addition to account managers, data analysts, project managers, systems consultants, and call upon those who have left. Same for someone looking to join Product, but also ask about tools used, processes, off-shoring, and strategy. Everyone should demand a training plan, clear goals and measurements and a career path outline before they start. Get everything in writing.


  10. Helpful (6)

    "Bad and getting worse"

    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

    Pros

    Not much here. No raises for years. Benefits had been good, but going downhill

    Cons

    Compensation is poor. Limited education. Limited growth. Limited mobility within the company (unless you know someone )

    Advice to Management

    I hear what you say, I wish I worked at the same company you do!!!!


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