Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Reviews | Glassdoor

Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Reviews

Updated December 13, 2017
116 reviews

Filter

Filter

Full-timePart-time

3.0
StarStarStarStarStar
Rating TrendsRating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
(no image)
Dr. Ken Gabriel
28 Ratings

116 Employee Reviews

Sort: PopularRatingDate

Pros
Cons
  • New CEO has made some long overdue changes but he is destroying Draper Culture and work environment (in 5 reviews)

  • New CEO has been making drastic changes to work environment that is destroying the Draper culture that has been being built for decades (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "IT Department"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - IT Support in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - IT Support in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Nice benefits, low pressure, good pay, awesome 401K

    Cons

    None so far I can think of


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Manager"

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

    I worked at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Interesting and meaningful work being done by many very smart people! good benefits

    Cons

    Infrastructure is a mess, poor management, lack of policies, internal politics are stifling... compensation isn't competitive with market.

    Advice to Management

    Less drama and political intrigue, invest more in infrastructure and training/education for managers. also, need to fix compensation to align with market

  3. "Dysfunctional company, despite changes over the past few years"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Decent benefits (though not necessarily above what the Cambridge area offers in general), new external atrium and cafeteria area, non-profit, interesting projects.

    Cons

    Unfortunately, there are reasons why Draper struggles to reel in and retain both business and talented staff.

    Dysfunctional and incompetent management, at all levels. As numerous other reviews have pointed out, management is obstinate and careless to the needs of their staff. Decision-making is extremely suspect. There is a lot of politics, lip-service, and little training.

    Very little career progression for both new recruits and long-time employees. Unfortunately, this is the case across all departments at Draper. Talented and capable people often get shoved into a corner to waste, sometimes over many years. This problem is the worst for junior level staff, but Draper can’t retain brilliant and experienced engineers when they do come by.

    Most expensive and inefficient business model - there is no real incentive to be efficient, productive, nor to produce quality work. Wheels are reinvented and glossed up to be marketed as ‘state-of-the-art’, when scientists well-versed in their respective fields know better. There is a lot of posturing and opportunities lost due to aforementioned problems. The only colleagues that are really satisfied here tend to be opportunists that are good at ignoring the issues altogether. Lately, there is more of push to be innovative in project directions. But whether due to poor leadership, lack of resources, or general company dysfunction, Draper continues to be a dilettante in these avenues.

    Stale and dreary work culture, with little diversity.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Semi-Famous group with LOTS of Office Politics"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Member of Technical Staff in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Member of Technical Staff in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    If you are a student, intern, or fellow, this is a great place to work on projects associated with prestigious grants (with little risk relative to you)

    Cons

    The main issue that I have with Draper is the mechanism it uses to allocate employees to projects. Imagine that you are an employee and technically, you are a salaried employee so the number of hours you report is always 40 hours per week, no more no less. Now imagine a scenario where your manager is 100% NOT responsible for finding or assigning tasks for you to work on, but every week, you are required to fill in a timesheet that states which projects you worked for how many hours.

    Every project is managed by an ad-hoc team of people from different groups, divisions, etc… and when it comes to finding projects to work on, you will have to seek them out and audition your skillset and experience to them. Every little group that forms around a project has a metaphorical “pile of money” and you will need to sell yourself to these teams sand hope that enough people “bid for your time” so you have 40 hours’ worth of tasks per week.

    Managers will praise this style of deflecting responsibility off themselves and call it “a Matrix organization” and to their credit, this system is “useful” in that if they are ever audited by a grant issuer, they can show exactly how many hours was spent on labor per project, but it forces you to seek out work to do within the company. The only people management spends time with are the “golden boys” or you IF you have trouble finding the full 40 hours’ worth of work.

    Fiefdoms within the company are how projects are managed and this is the system you will have to navigate in order to find work. If you are lucky, you will build a good reputation via “word of mouth” and people may seek you out to work on projects. BE WARNED that whether people like you or feel they can relate to you has a much bigger impact on your “reputation” then technical competency. Other reviews have alluded to this, and I MUST reiterate because it’s true, the entire company is a textbook example of the Peter Principle.

    Advice to Management

    Get out of your echo chamber. Judge people by technical competency rather than hearsay and popularity contests. Google “The Peter Principle”


  5. "Human Resources Operations Rep"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Human Resources Operations Representative in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Human Resources Operations Representative in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great environment and benefits package. The work is top notch and socially conscious. Supportive management that want to help employees

    Cons

    Processes are archaic. A lot of people that are unwilling to change. The construction will take a few years to be completed. The area is very competitive. They do not have a gym facility


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Engineer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great Company to work for

    Cons

    Not listed in HRC equality index


  7. "senior admin assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    benefits
    flexibility
    tuition reimbursement
    room for advancement

    Cons

    unless your an engineer it is harder to move up

    Advice to Management

    some managers need to actually learn the role of a manager before taking the role.

  8. "Great work-balance life, can be bureaucracy heavy"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Member of Technical Staff II in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Member of Technical Staff II in Cambridge, MA
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great work-balance life, with lots of interesting and high-impact project opportunities

    Cons

    Can be bureaucracy heavy; changes can take long time to be implemented


  9. "Legal Department Intern"

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

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Laid back, nice people to work with

    Cons

    Political, incompetence, grandstanding, lack of motivation,

    Advice to Management

    Encourage people to not just make rules, but instill a creative culture even in legal.


  10. Helpful (4)

    "not the Draper that once was"

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

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    if you can find them there are nice people here

    Cons

    low pay in comparison to peers
    no job security

    Advice to Management

    replace yourself


Showing 116 of 139 reviews
Reset Filters