Creative Associates International Reviews | Glassdoor

Creative Associates International Reviews

Updated November 24, 2017
46 reviews

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3.1
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Charito Kruvant
7 Ratings

46 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Junior staff get a lot of responsibility, technical work, and travel (in 6 reviews)

  • Interesting work helping people around the world through different programmes (in 3 reviews)

Cons
  • Family-run business so if you are "in" with the family, you can get away with being incompetent and just being nasty to your staff (in 3 reviews)

  • This is from the CEO down to the mid-level management (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    "Mission driven company with lots of opportunity for professional growth"

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

    I have been working at Creative Associates International full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    You will be given a lot of responsibility regardless of your level at this company. If you want to develop new skills, especially in program management, this is a great place to do it. Creative works in some of the most challenging environments around the world which means the projects Creative implements have the potential to impact a great deal of positive change - being a part of that is very fulfilling.

    Cons

    Some systems (HR, project management, etc) are still being developed as the company grows. Ability to deal with ambiguity and change are definitely assets for employees.

    Advice to Management

    Keep investing in the professional development of junior HQ staff and increase the focus on local staff in the field.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Great work, problematic organization"

    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
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Creative Associates International full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Lots of fantastic colleagues who are intelligent, hard-working, and fun. The content of the job is exciting and interesting. Junior staff get a lot of responsibility, technical work, and travel.

    Cons

    The organization does not invest in its people. Training is a joke, professional development is not taken seriously, and growth is at a snail's pace.

    Advice to Management

    Spend less money on very senior strategic hires who don't do much, and invest more time, resources, and support in your junior staff who are full of potential and are propping up your ability to implement projects.

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Program Associate"

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

    I worked at Creative Associates International full-time

    Pros

    The work the company does is, at a high level, engaging and noble.

    Cons

    There's limited opportunity for growth or high level thinking. Much of the work ends up being execution. There's also a high level of office politics given that it's a family run company.

    Advice to Management

    Provide more professional development opportunities and interact with your employees in a more meaningful way.


  4. Helpful (4)

    "Growing pains"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Creative Associates International full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    It's generally a nice place to work. Many people are helpful and willing to share their knowledge.
    There are interesting roles to explore. I don't know how difficult it is to move about within the company though.
    Has done well in a competitive field recently. Hope that continues in this uncertain climate for foreign aid.
    Nice, quiet area and bldg has a lot of offices, so if you hate open plan and don't mind sharing offices, this would be a plus.
    Everyone gets an iPhone.
    Right on the Metro (though in a very expensive area).
    Good industry presentations.
    Work/life balance -- there is at least an attempt by most people to achieve this.

    Cons

    Benefits are not great. Only 15 days vacation for new hires. Only up to 19 after a decade. Considering the number of extra hours many people put in, this is not very good.
    Leadership is against people working at home or remotely. In this day and age, this is not a good way of attracting and retaining people. (Refer to fake review planted by management from late 2015.) Similarly, hates to close office even for a major blizzard.
    A few bad apples who bully and intimidate and need to be taken to task but are technically astute enough, and they're allowed to continue.

    Advice to Management

    Institute live, in-house training on harassment/intimidation, and require director-level people to attend neutral 3rd-party training on same.
    Broaden HR roles to include programs and services to make employees more safer (i.e. employee relations function that is genuinely objective and won't blab).
    Implement flexible work arrangements and stress the need for them to be CONSISTENT.


  5. Helpful (4)

    "Senior Associate"

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

    I worked at Creative Associates International full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Some very nice people at Creative, very motivated by development work. Mostly NGO types. Fair level of empowerment to do one's job. Base pay is decent. The mentorship program is good.

    Cons

    (1) Decision making, with some exceptions, is not data driven. As a result, there are many mediocre strategies and outcomes. (2) "the family" has a strange decision making process; often feels like the COO is leading the company, not the CEO or President. "The family" is often very nice but lacks cross-cutting experience which would better inform their decision making. People are very mission driven which is nice, but this is not a high performance institution.

    Advice to Management

    Be willing to go beyond family for the top roles. Bringing in capable outside leadership will limit the capacity to change unless those people are allowed to be at the very top. In the short run, at a minimum, the family can and should get more real world, outside exposure and bring those practices into Creative, if you can. Empowerment is good, but you need to pay more attention to details and drive deeper into what is happening within your organization. Do more to retain talent, they make you who you are. And don't just rely on HR to have all the tough conversations--you need to talk to people too. Encourage dissent and constructive internal criticism; that will make you stronger. You have come very far as a company without having to rely too much on data; that is the benefit of working for the US government. I know you do have passion for development. But sooner or later, the lack of focus on details, and poor retention of talent, will come back to hurt you in a significant way.


  6. Helpful (6)

    "If you need a job, fine, but..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Creative Associates International full-time

    Pros

    -camaraderie is big here, potential to make great friends
    -there are some very smart people to learn from - but usually at a distance
    -if you are junior, there's a high chance you'll be given lots of responsibilities above your pay grade - you won't be compensated and will expect to carry out these things while still doing the job you were hired for, but it's a good way to get a higher-level position once you leave.
    -every so often they'll show an inspiring project video at an all staff meeting or host an event with field staff in the office - those things make you feel good about why you're working there

    Cons

    The Bad
    -rampant nepotism. seriously. not even hidden. It doesn’t really affect you on a day to day basis, but it lowers morale after a while.
    -no standards for promotion and/or labor categories - again, highly dependent on who you are (not in your performance, but more often personal characteristics – namely gender and how little you complain)
    -sexist assignment of job roles - women largely expected to "clean up", order food, plan events, etc.
    -no professional graphic designers on staff. expect poor quality presentations/images, unless they pawn it off on a younger staff member.
    -junior/mid level staff treated as replaceable, and as a result…
    -high turnover, all the time. they consistently lose over 10% of their workforce every 4 months or so.
    -no official work from home policy. but "some" people get to use it (see below)

    The Really Bad
    -loyalty means everything, even over relevant experience or job performance
    -no management standards or training whatsoever (you could get lucky, or you could get very unlucky - borderline abusive treatment from certain managers (plural, across all departments) exists)
    -no consistent systems in place - rules apply differently depending on who you are and who your manager is
    -more often than not, directors do not respect new business deadlines. Things will be rewritten at the last minute, late nights and weekends because of this are accepted as the norm, and no repercussions exist for those that blow past these deadlines consistently.

    The Ugly
    -no safe space to report negative behavior of any kind (HR leadership is untrustworthy and reports are notoriously not confidential)
    -no place to anonymously report on poor management behavior besides your exit interview
    -huge gender pay gap - men make more than same-level or more-experienced female counterparts, and are more likely to be promoted and/or given preferential treatment
    -no investment/desire for true innovation - AKA they will say they want to be at "the cutting edge", but don't want to use company time, funds, or create positions to back that up

    Advice to Management

    I'm really not sure, other than a complete THIRD-PARTY audit and upheaval of how the company is run. The "family" at the very top makes this not a typical place to work - professionalism is very much subject to who exactly you are dealing with.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "A good stop before the real thing comes"

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

    I have been working at Creative Associates International full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great young professionals to work with.

    Cons

    The pay and bonuses are very low comparing to the profit.
    very high turnover rate.

    Advice to Management

    look after the people who are making all of this happen

  8. "Smart people with high impact"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Great staff with bright, engaged minds.

    Cons

    Low pay considering its a for profit


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Good Place Overall"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Nice people and really mission-driven

    Cons

    Sometimes leadership focus lacked a bit

    Advice to Management

    More attention to junior staff, compensation coul be better.


  10. Helpful (9)

    "Not a place junior level advancement"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Associate in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Program Associate in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Creative Associates International full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Fairly decent benefits. Laid back culture.

    Cons

    Rampant with nepotism and cronyism.

    Advice to Management

    Refocus your efforts on the business.


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