Development Finance International Reviews | Glassdoor

Development Finance International Reviews

Updated April 13, 2017
11 reviews

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11 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    "DFI exceeds my expectations; after nearly 8 years I still love it!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Manager in Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Senior Manager in Bethesda, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Development Finance International full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    I have been at DFI for almost 8 years, and as a result am very familiar with the organization and its evolution. Reflecting upon my years working here, the most notable pros are:

    Upward mobility and new opportunities: I was hired as a Research Associate focused exclusively on Latin America. I am now a Senior Manager with pretty much global coverage and leading DFI’s work in multiple sectors. Through hard work, dedication, developing new skills, deepening my learning and knowledge about business in emerging markets and the International Financing Institutions, many doors have opened affording me new and exciting opportunities at DFI. This naturally require time and great deal of effort, but the opportunities which DFI has offered me far exceed my expectations when I began at the company. This is one of the main factors which keeps me excited to work for DFI.

    Colleagues: While there is a range of work styles and personalities at DFI, I trust the judgement and integrity of my colleagues. Working with people who I am confident will make the right decision and do the right thing for the company and our clients is critical for me. Furthermore, DFI is full of very intelligent people who are creative and passionate about their work. At any job you want to surround yourself with people like this as it creates an environment where you can grow professionally, develop new skills and acquire new perspectives.

    Exciting and challenging work: The work at DFI is dynamic, fast paced and can be at time demanding. This, in my opinion, is one of the difference makers of the company, and is something that I love. The focus of our work - business in emerging markets - is something that I am passionate about and find very exciting. Emerging markets are quickly evolving and producing new opportunities for companies like DFI and our clients. It is also gratifying to know that our work creates a positive impact in the lives of people in emerging markets. In addition, working with a range of Fortune 500 clients and having a view into how these companies lead in their respective sectors is very exciting for me.

    Access to the world: This is the icing on the cake. As I mentioned above, having been hired to conduct research on Latin America, it was hard to imagine that I would end up traveling to and leading projects in many, many, many countries across Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. Traveling with your clients to these places where we are conducting business has been very rewarding and among the highlights of my tenure at DFI.

    Cons

    Like every company, there are areas of improvement at DFI. The most notable cons about working at DFI include:

    Team unity: While I have this listed as a con, this is an area where DFI has improved vastly over the years. With new and younger colleagues coming on board, there is an increased sense of team and unity in the organization. Colleagues now get together outside of work to socialize and do different activities which is great. This sort of team rapport was not as strong when I first came to DFI many years back, and I hope that the team unity that I am seeing at DFI continues.

    Professional development: DFI supports its employees with professional develop around communication / public speaking, a few colleagues have taken some courses in person and online, and DFI continuously encourages its employees to attend external events and seminars, however, younger colleagues could benefit from more systematic professional development options. I realize that there is a cost associated with this, but this would be a good way to motivate employees and help accelerate their skill development. It will also help DFI expand its capabilities and service offerings.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "DO NOT DISREGARD GLASSDOOR REVIEWS. I did."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Development Finance International full-time

    Pros

    - You get exposure to specialists at international banks (think World Bank, IDB, etc.) but there is a fine line between meeting them and stalking them.
    - If you’re lucky, you get a really nice team of coworkers... that is, before they all start leaving.
    - You get to travel with some accounts after working there for a while. Some after a year, others after more. Others never do so.

    Cons

    - PERSONAL WELL-BEING: If you’re looking for a workplace where you feel safe: this is not it. Higher management is extremely condescending and will criticize every attempt on behalf of employees to improve the accounts.
    - OPINIONS: If you’re looking for your opinion to be valued: this is not the place to be. Again, higher management will never listen to the employees’ feedback.
    - DEVELOPMENT (?): If you want to wake up every morning feeling great about what you’re doing: you should not work here. Even though the company is interested in the “SDGs” and other development affairs, it’s only the lingo they use. When it comes down to it, they only care about profits and constantly push (the wrong way) their employees to come up with new ideas (which they end up trashing) on how to increase numbers.
    - COMMUNICATION: If you want a workplace with good communication: don’t even bother. Although there are people supposed to mediate between higher management and the rest of the employees, they don’t really act upon it and you basically have to suck it up. Also, HR department is basically nonexistent.
    - EGOS: the egos of higher management are uncontrollable and blind them from treating their employees well. Yes, they buy ice cream every now and then, but that does not solve the underlying issue of employee mistreatment and lack of good quality communication.

    * Side effects: After a while working here, you might start waking up with nauseas, wondering why are you still there and putting up with the perversion of higher management. This is not mortal. As long as you’re determined, you will find something else.

    Advice to Management

    Leave. High employee turnover is ONLY your fault. As long as you’re there, employees will continue to quit.


  3. Helpful (1)

    "A mixed bag and room for growth - talented colleagues, interesting work, difficult fit, and challenging management"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate in Bethesda, MD
    Former Employee - Associate in Bethesda, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    - The Clients: This varies, as with any consulting job, but a number of DFI's clients are top-tier, Fortune 500 companies with teams that are great to work with. The scope and geographical focus vary and you will get experience working with some high-level people.

    - The Work: This certainly depends on the projects you are on, but the work can be really interesting. Its a relatively complex space that includes international finance players, governments, and private companies. As a young person, you can engage with people at a very high-level, that you would likely never interact with otherwise, and provide actionable support.

    - Career Prep: A lot of the work you could do will teach you a lot and look great on your resume. Depends on the project, client, and team.

    - Colleagues: A lot of the people you work with are smart, motivated, and nice people. There is definitely a sense of camaraderie, particularly with non-senior management staff. It's a small team and you can definitely learn from your peers. Some of the people I admire and respect the most in my professional career are at or were at DFI, depending on what project or who you work with.

    - Travel: Again, depends on the account, but you can get the opportunity to travel a few times a year or more. Always fun.

    Cons

    - August 2015 reviews: If you've read these you can probably tell, a number of them were scripted in response to the negative reviews that were posted.

    - Understanding Flaws/ Willingness to Learn/ Positive Change: In my time at DFI, there was a significant amount of turnover. The reasons for leaving were varied, but the departures were all justified internally as people being "bad fits", "not being able to handle the type/intensity of work", "immature or personality disconnects". Particularly from ownership and upper management, there was a denial of any fault lying in the company itself. Only at the very end of my time at DFI were exit-interviews instituted and was there any structured effort at understanding how improvements could be made. There is a strong aversion to any sort of constructive feedback and top-down management is very strongly instituted. The company is relatively stagnant and people who thrive often tend to insulate themselves as much as possible from the rest of the org.

    - Company structure: Most consulting companies are pyramidal in structure. A few very high-up experienced people, some middle management, and then a base of younger professionals. DFI is upside-down. They have a high number of senior management staff with very few younger support staff. This means that middle management often wastes time on tasks far below their pay grade, Associates are over-worked and often become glorified assistants, and that internal growth can be difficult. Also, this means that staying within budget and billable hours can become an issue - if a project has a lot of senior staff and one associate, it will cost a lot to the company and could easily exceed billable hours.

    - Employee treatment and compensation variances: There are some very loyal and committed people at DFI. They do not seem to be rewarded, encouraged, or supported in the way one would hope. Rather, it seems the focus is on keeping them doing the work they are doing, at the pay they are doing it at for as long as possible. PD opportunities are limited and training is something that happens at the discretion of your manager. Also, something that I find significantly concerning, is that pay ranges very significantly based on the company's need at the time of hire and one's ability to negotiate, irrespective of title, role, or experience. This is true across all levels of the company and there are people making significantly less than others in the same role, level. Some benefits exist, but some surprising ones are missing - such as maternity/paternity leave.

    - Poor valuation of time and health: Time = Money. DFI often does not value the time of its people as an asset. Rather, it seems to be approached as a sunk cost - since we're already paying a set salary, people's time is basically a free commodity. Middle management is often caught up doing things that would be better handled by a lower pay grade and menial, easy to out-source tasks are often done by staff. Examples of this range from scheduling trips, printing things for people, creating binders, database searches, etc. Also, there have been incidents in which people's health were compromised that would have been easily avoidable if ROI, job description, and time value was considered.

    - Ego/Politics/Stress/Fear: At times, DFI can feel like a House of Cards episode. There are a lot of passive-aggressive tendencies, very strong and inflexible egos, and people are often worried about being caught doing/saying the wrong thing. People's communications (personal and professional), movements, and actions are all open to being watched and reported on to the highest levels of management. It is very evident who favorites and least favorites are. There are instances of people being pushed to tears and be spoken to in a way that is thoroughly unprofessional by long-standing staff members that were never reported or dealt with out of fear. After leaving DFI, I've had to work hard to return to assuming best intentions.

    - Upper Management: Upper management are at times unapproachable, intractable, and struggle with differing opinions. All the cons begin and end here, as in all companies, and they often do not take responsibility or don't acknowledge issues that may exist. Also, dissenting, new, or differing opinions have to be very carefully constructed, are rarely asked for, and even more rarely accepted.

    Advice to Management

    You are doing exciting and relevant work. Now is the tipping point. Either DFI can acknowledge the areas for growth and create a plan to improve, or it can stay the same. If management can buy into a plan for change, invest in its young talent, and improve company culture - I believe the business could grow and thrive. Remove people who create a combative, passive-aggressive, political environment from staff and client facing roles.

    If there is not willingness to do that, shy away from hiring entrepreneurial, independent thinkers or there is a high chance that they will be dissatisfied and likely leave.


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  5. "Focused, visionary company - on the leading edge of bridging business and development"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Finance and Administration in Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Finance and Administration in Bethesda, MD

    I have been working at Development Finance International full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    I am delighted to offer my perspective as a long-time employee of Development Finance International, Inc. and having watched the company grow and prosper through the years. We work in international development and support many of the leading companies in the world, often times under contracts that renew over 10, 15 and even 19 years. Thanks to the remarkable vision of the co-owners, management team, and senior leadership, the company focuses on many of the greatest challenges in the world. We stay topical, additive, and valued by our clients – thus the long tenure with many.

    In my time at DFI, I’ve watched and been involved as DFI develops highly capable staff members and mature new managers with real-time client work. We are all directly engaged with clients, and those motivated to excel and perform are recognized and rewarded with autonomy and more responsibility. The CEO, MD, Directors, and senior management are very team oriented and focused on skills, precision, and quality making it easy to thrive for disciplined, eager staff.

    In the last 10 years, DFI has opened 6 international and domestic offices, largely driven by the company’s desire to reward and incentivize key contributors

    Cons

    Obviously, DFI positives can create challenges for non-team players or those who come into the company thinking there is nothing to learn. Management does not have unlimited patience, instead asking for best efforts and a clear commitment to excellent work. Collaboration, give and take, aligning with the company’s style and single voice to clients requires maturity. When that is either lacking or fails to develop in appropriate time, there is not a good fit.

    Advice to Management

    With growing culturally diverse office, continue to focus on precision in advisory and administrative work. Focus on continued build-out of DFI’s unique and highly valued “look and feel” admired by clients and partners.


  6. "Bright, committed, creative and focused"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Development Finance International full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Development Finance International is a DC-based global advisory firm focused on increasing our client's revenue, voice and impact in the emerging markets.

    I started at the company as an Associate more than a decade ago. After multiple promotions, greater autonomy, and increased responsibilities I now lead client work in a region I love and collaborate with some of the most remarkable people that I have ever met. The corporate culture, from the CEO on down, stresses creativity, team-oriented solutions, and a dedication to something more than the bottom line.

    The work is both challenging and rewarding, and we work hard. We support our clients across multiple sectors and geographies, and I have had the opportunity to travel widely, learn new skills, and work in a diverse and supportive environment.

    DFI is a company that rewards innovative, hard working staff. There is a network of support and mentorship across all levels of management and an opportunity for personal and professional growth.

    Cons

    There will likely be a learning curve, as DFI is in a niche market and offers a unique approach. Those who are not comfortable integrating new ideas and approaches on the fly or working in a highly collaborative environment are probably not a good fit.

    Advice to Management

    Long-term staff exchanges between the DC and global offices are effective for both training and relationship building. Recommend we do this more frequently.


  7. Helpful (7)

    "Associate"

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

    I have been working at Development Finance International full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Somewhat cool work however very little strategy done. You will learn about the different development banks and how they facilitate their moneys.

    Cons

    Really horrible upper management style, micro-managers. 15 people either changed locations or quit last year out of what was a 25 person office, now 10. Top management are completely delusional and make very bad business decisions. Be prepared to be "bought" with food instead of dealing with company culture problems.

    Advice to Management

    Need to completely change business practices as well as company environment. This company is in some serious trouble if it doesn't. CEO & managing director are the kind of people who don't value their employees and if you aren't on their good side you will have to leave or get squeezed out.


  8. Helpful (5)

    "As with all other firms, there are good things and there are rooms for change and growth"

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

    I worked at Development Finance International full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    DFI is a very Type-A consulting firm which means that it can be highly demanding. This is a pro especially for professionals (with little or no work experience) who are keen to learn and understand multinational businesses and international development. The learning curve will be steep. Employees will be exposed to challenging work early on. There may also be some flexibility in the work that you do; they sometimes take into account people's preference for sector- and geography- specific work (*sometimes because it would depend on the work that needs to be done and resource availability).

    Some people from the senior management are very approachable and welcoming, whom you can exchange and co-develop ideas or solutions. You would really learn a lot from your engagement with them.

    Cons

    Given that it is a Type-A environment, things can be stressful at times, especially when you have too much on your plate and with so little time to finish them. At times, some managers cram deliverables and passing on the pressur/burden to associates.

    The salary seems to be below the average for consulting firms (did some comparison with friends). There are not many benefits as well (I think given the fact that it is a small firm). There is no overtime pay, by the way, which is a common practice for consulting firms.

    It is a small firm so there is little bargaining power with clients, so there could be some resource constraints especially while travelling. Unlike other consulting firms that can easily "bill" the client.

    Advice to Management

    Staff exchanges (from 1-month to 1-year) may be beneficial. Two-way feedback system (i.e. associates can also provide feedback to their managers as managers may not always be aware of their shortcomings)


  9. "Great company - allows flexibility to work across sectors / geographies"

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

    I have been working at Development Finance International full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    DFI is a focused, unique organization that provides private, NGO and Government clients with international emerging market business and development support. I joined DFI in the D.C. office as a Senior Associate nearly 6 years ago and have since been promoted to Senior Manager. The company provides exceptional mentoring and encourages professional development. I started at the beginning by learning the DFI services and supporting clients across a range of sectors and geographies; now I lead and drive client work independently in sectors I find interesting with clients that I enjoy working with.

    During my 6 yr tenor, I saw DFI grow the number of staff in the D.C., Manila and New Delhi offices and open new offices in Africa (2014), with an average of about 40 staff globally. The flexibility of a small company, and visionary leadership of management allowed some of us to accommodate relocation interests and expand the U.S. presences with new locations in Miami, Seattle, Boston, and Cincinnati.

    Cons

    DFI's ability to execute programs are dependent on the clients capacity to absorb new business and strategies, so while DFI may propose a new market strategy or solution, the ability to execute can be limited by the clients willingness and capabilities. That is usually the case with most business advisory companies.

    Advice to Management

    Encourage more cross-office work exchanges, because the teams are global it is helpful to work face to face occasionally. I learned a lot from spending time in Manila with the team there.


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Smart young talent, shockingly incompetent management"

    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
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Development Finance International full-time

    Pros

    Pretty much what many have said in other reviews: interesting work at the nexus of development and business.

    Cons

    You will get your emails checked, reviewed, and edited even for simple routine communication. You will be forced to sit in business development meetings/calls where promises are made that you're certain cannot be kept. You will realize that only one person makes the decisions and naturally lose your ambition to excel. You will be forced to make pointless phone calls to project managers of the World Bank to ask them a series of pointless questions such as "can we meet with you to talk about the project" whereupon they will give you a perfectly rational answer: "all you need to know is in the project document". You will then come to the realization that you will not grow there and begin to aimlessly aim at the nauseating yellow walls of the office. You will get a paperweight for Christmas. You will start to look for a job. You will get a new job. You will leave. You will leave your paperweight on your desk. You will be ok. You will be ok...

    Advice to Management

    "We get it done" FALSE: I've been there for a number of years and have not seen one single business won in all of the accounts I was involved in. "We Deliver" FALSE: I have not seen any real opportunity delivered; just a massive report with projects that's publicly available online. "Clients want to be there yesterday" FALSE: This doesn't even makes sense; they just want to make money and you should just focus on that rather than buzz words.


  11. Helpful (5)

    "Some good pros but the cons make it a difficult place to stay long-term; also be careful reading reviews"

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

    I worked at Development Finance International full-time

    Pros

    DFI works at a very interesting intersection of development and business. There are few consulting firms doing this type of work. The fact that it's a small company means that you may be able to get a lot of responsibility early on, however, this is not even across employees.

    Cons

    Depending who you work with, there is indeed a lot of micromanaging. Also senior management can be erratic and disconnected from employees. You have to be okay with this to stay at DFI. I decided to write this review after getting notifications that many new reviews were posted this week. Be careful interpreting the 5-star reviews as they seem to have been manufactured.

    Advice to Management

    Be open to change. Trust employees to do their job.


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