Cengage Product Manager Reviews | Glassdoor

Cengage Product Manager Reviews

Updated Jul 26, 2019

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3.5
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  1. Helpful (6)

    "Candid, ambitious, empowering culture with a mission to improve learning"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Product Manager in Boston, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Cengage full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Coming from a nonprofit with a micromanaged workaholic culture, Cengage was a breath of fresh air. People work hard because they care about and enjoy their work, and hold themselves and others accountable, but management doesn't dictate exactly what each employee does in every hour of their day; they aren't afraid to hold employees to high standards and give them the room to try and sometimes fail, which is the best... way to learn and improve. For example, very early on in joining I felt a bit like I was thrown in the deep end (owning projects, leading teams of people, facilitating meetings), which was stressful at first but also made me feel trusted that I could handle it and I quickly rose to the challenge. People and managers are honest about what is or isn't working (they don't try to skew the data to support what they WANT to see, as my previous company had done). Within my first two weeks we were having transparent discussions about the necessity of certain meetings or attendees and I appreciated that people didn't take offense. Similarly I've received updates from the technology team about bugs/issues customers are facing and how they're addressing them, without any sugar coating or 'apology' (people understand that bugs are expected in software); they even include negative quotes direct from customers and acknowledge why an issue must be frustrating. Cengage as a company isn't afraid to take risks, as demonstrated by the first-of-its-kind Cengage Unlimited subscription service; we are constantly talking to and listening to our customers (instructors and students), and aren't afraid to throw out/change up ideas based on research and feedback. Management seems to listen to employees and constantly looks for ways to improve culture and practices. For instance, recently Cengage switched up a lot of roles/responsibilities to better meet the needs, and has been working on updated onboarding/training practices, including projected career paths; in particular there has been an emphasis on forming groups of individuals who can work through problems together so that the practice isn't to escalate issues to managers, which I really appreciate because it empowers us to solve problems ourselves. In general I am a pretty introverted person who takes a while to open up to people, but Cengage promotes a very open, trustworthy culture (think "psychological safety"), where everyone is encouraged to speak their mind and engage in healthy debate; I've yet to witness anyone being shut down, criticized, or discouraged, even if they don't word their ideas perfectly. Overall I would highly recommend Cengage as a place to work for anyone who wants the mission-driven, collaborative feel of a nonprofit with the resources and perks of a for-profit, and the perfect amount of autonomy.

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    Cons

    So far I have only encountered a few negatives of working here, but they are far outweighed by the pros. I do think these are areas Cengage could focus on improving. 1. They are struggling to change quickly at scale; a lot of their systems were set up for paper publishing and now they're trying to be digital, which is awesome because they're responsive to what customers want/need, but their systems can't change... fast enough to support this so there are a ton of weird workarounds for internal teams. Another side effect of things changing so fast at such a large company is that it is really challenging to keep everyone up to speed while streamlining communication. I frequently find myself in a situation where I have questions that no one can answer or even tell me who can answer. It's a bit messy but I appreciate peoples' willingness to work through it and remain positive. 2. Some people are really perfectionist, and operate with a fear-of-mistakes mentality, which sets us back on schedules and results in time lost worrying rather than executing. This is a business and so we have to weigh cost/benefit. Fortunately management is typically able to drive people toward outcomes even if not perfect. 3. At my last company I had been there almost 10 years and had 5 weeks of vacation banked in addition to getting a lot of holidays off (i.e. week between Christmas and New Years). Coming to Cengage, I only get 10 days of vacation time for the first two years, and they have very few regular holidays. I think Cengage could benefit from offering unlimited vacation (especially given the culture - people are self-motivated enough not to take advantage), or at the very least negotiate more vacation days in the hiring process. 4. At my last company I earned a lot of trust and freedom and so was able to work remotely pretty much whenever I wanted. At Cengage there seem to be mixed views on working remotely. When I was first hired I was told it was flexible - I should prioritize in-person time for the first few months to meet people but after that if I didn't have any in-person meetings then I was welcome to work remotely. I spoke to various people, some of whom come into the office every day, others work remotely 2-3 days a week, others work remotely almost every day, so it seemed pretty flexible. Then I acquired a new manager, and suddenly I was required to let them know every time I would be remote and was limited to how often I could work remotely even if I had no meetings or no one I worked with would be in my office. I would prefer my manager focus on my work product and give me feedback on that rather than focusing so much on when and where I'm getting the work done.

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    Advice to Management

    1. Spend more time up front defining expectations/goals with employees ("scripting the moves"), then give them space to plan the "how" and ask for feedback; hopefully this will help reduce perfectionism/fear of mistakes as well as the amount of back and forth that results from trying to strategize on an unclear vision. 2. Invest in systems that streamline communication. For example, give everyone a google... account (this is better for collaboration tools than microsoft/sharepoint). Also, map out a decision and communication tree to clarify who gives input, who makes choices, who communicates to who about those decisions, who executes/plans for impact of those decisions, and through what methods and on what timelines all of this occurs. We spend too much time spinning wheels and many communications/processes are one-off (if someone thinks to loop someone in or communicate something, great, otherwise people are left in the dark, OR peoples' solution is "let's just over-communicate everything" so then people glaze over their inbox). 3. Trust/allow employees to take more vacation time and work remotely without needing to get permission; prioritize expected results rather than expected methods of getting work done.

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    Cengage2019-01-02
  2. Helpful (6)

    "Lots of good work being done, good people, but SO MUCH CHANGE and instability"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Product Manager 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Cengage full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    -Autonomy and ownership over the vision/strategy/roadmap for your product area -Great coworkers who are passionate about education (for the most part)

    Cons

    -Frequent changes in company strategy that negatively affect employees, teams, and work (re-orgs, layoffs, sudden change in strategic direction, etc..)

    Cengage2019-07-26
  3. Helpful (7)

    "great colleagues but SO many changes"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Product Manager 

    I worked at Cengage full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Great, professional colleagues....so many people I enjoyed working with.

    Cons

    Management could be out of touch, though I've heard that it has improved since I left. So many changes in such a short period of time; very difficult upheaval happening at Cengage. Some difficulties are related to the tumultuous changes in the publishing world and trying to adjust; some are related to mismanagement in various areas of the company

    Cengage2019-02-22
  4. Helpful (1)

    "Product Manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Product Manager in Cincinnati, OH
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Cengage full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Cengage's dedication to the student and support of their employees makes this an exciting place to work.

    Cons

    There is a lot of continual change and adjustment as a part of the shifts occurring in education and the educational publishing industry.

    Advice to Management

    Increase female representation in executive roles.

    Cengage2017-12-18
  5. "Full-filling, comfortable work - but frustrating"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Product Manager in Boston, MA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Cengage full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Ed-tech feels meaningful and you have a real impact on people's lives. Good/friendly co-workers, good work/life balance,

    Cons

    Static/dated organization struggling to modernize itself

    Advice to Management

    Be way more forward thinking and innovative

    Cengage2017-06-05
  6. Helpful (10)

    "Chaotic environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Product Manager 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Cengage

    Pros

    good people in the trenches

    Cons

    chaos. High school cliques. Nepotism.

    Cengage2017-05-16
  7. Helpful (33)

    "Only stay if you can withstand abuse"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Product Manager in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Cengage full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    My immediate and same-level colleagues are great. We trust each other and realize we're all in this together at the moment.

    Cons

    Senior Management either has no idea what they're doing, doesn't have the right information, or doesn't take the time to listen to their people. The health insurance is the worst I've seen in the industry. It's difficult to find a reason for working when those who sweet talk the right people, but don't actually get anything done are praised, while those who honestly and earnestly work hard and long aren't recognized... or appreciated, but instead blocked from completing work. There are few actual processes to follow in Product Management. You have to figure it out or reinvent the wheel almost every time you try to get something done.

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    Advice to Management

    Senior Management either has no idea what they're doing, doesn't have the right information, or doesn't take the time to listen to their people. We're telling you how to succeed because we know the customers and how the business works (or doesn't work). Show up to meetings or read your emails, stop interrupting us when we finally do get in front of you, and stop holding up resourcing or project approvals without... reason. I've been lied to directly by senior management, then had it covered up and denied. I've repeatedly heard one thing one day, then the opposite the next. It's difficult to get anything approved on paper so we can move forward. I've seen gaslighting and bullying, but hopefully that culture will change some with a prominent member of the C-Suite leaving soon. Read up on better management practices and subconscious psychological biases. Please, please go to management training run by people well known for turning business culture around or at least those known for successfully educating on non-discriminatory behavior change in management. I'm seeing women and men treated very differently and that needs to change if we're to continue to grow. Put processes in place for Product Management and stick to them. Approve things in writing, then let us work. We know how to succeed. Let us do our jobs.

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    Cengage2017-03-17
  8. Helpful (5)

    "Senior Product Manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Product Manager in Cincinnati, OH
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Cengage full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Great colleagues. Meaningful purpose of driving educational effective in higher education. Working with instructors and students is fun and rewarding

    Cons

    Industry trends continue to put pressure on the business structure. Product and content teams are under resourced to achieve many of their goals, specifically change goals. Corporate goals for growth and innovation consistent over the past 3 years, the planning and execution of those goals changes every 6 months.

    Cengage2017-02-12
  9. Helpful (25)

    "Being sold or outright folding"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Product Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Cengage full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Some really great people. Most of them are now gone.

    Cons

    Product Managers work for the finance department. No real product development work goes on. Employees have grown so accustomed to layoffs or smart people resigning that they no longer acknowledge the existence of past employees. It is an Orwellian nightmare at its finest. Managers are yes-men/women who retaliate against employees who question the system. Many managers push out great employees by making them... miserable so that they quit to avoid layoffs with severance. A prominent leader has recently stepped down and employees are hoping this will change the miserable culture, but by now so much is systemic with legacy cronies still in their position...the outlook for culture improvement is bleak. MindTap is destroying Cengage.

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    Advice to Management

    All new management needed...top to bottom. Current management is so full of narcissists that they wouldn't listen to any advice Glassdoor poster's offer. You see, they know better. Gaslighting is the order of the day. They just don't care. We are all paying for their retirement. HR is working for management. They will not help you.

    Cengage2017-02-17
  10. Helpful (24)

    "Not all that"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Product Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Cengage full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Nice office space/location. The idea of what Cengage does is appealing to anyone passionate about teaching and learning.

    Cons

    Unfortunately, the Silicon Valley like office space masks an old school publishing environment. Great ideas for innovation and the appearance of tech savvy and agile--- but little capacity to execute across many disciplines. Compensation for Product Assistants is a complete insult.

    Advice to Management

    Micro-managing will not get the best out of your talent. Stop being afraid of the Chief Product Officer and do what's right for individuals on your team.

    Cengage2017-01-03
Found 31 reviews