Diamond Light Source Reviews | Glassdoor

Diamond Light Source Reviews

Updated August 17, 2017
18 reviews

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Diamond Light Source CEO Andrew Harrison
Andrew Harrison
1 Rating

18 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Brilliant on the outside. but not on inside."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Didcot, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Didcot, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    -working on world class technologies.
    -flexible working hours.
    -get to be involved in a high impact publications
    -travelling to conferences

    Cons

    Overall customer satisfaction is often a lower priority than doing things the way management wants them done (from the perspective of software).

    Management is extremely passive aggressive, and the social camaraderie at lunch can often become an uncomfortable work discussion. It takes a thick skin and a lot of forgiveness to be happy here. Despite co-workers being very friendly, people mostly won't stand up for one another when the boss gets ornery. A fair amount of throwing under the bus happens, but not vengefully - more simply out of ducking for cover when the boss is on a rampage.

    There is a rather large, rather organically grown code base that is quite fragile. I was frequently under uncomfortable pressure to fix problems that I introduced by fixing some other part of the code base. Integration tests, you say? There were none when I started. There are now a few, but by no means complete for the complexity of these systems. Unit tests will require monumental effort and time.

    The major downside of software I see at Diamond is how much software serves a compensatory role. Much of the software is a hack, and a lot of confusion and finger pointing results. Further, the tiny software team is completely fragmented, with each internal project typically only having a single developer working on it. Code review did not feel welcome - other programmers were friendly about it, but ultimately avoidant.

    Other problems:
    - Low salary compared to the high cost-of-living.
    - career progression is limited.
    - you should expect to be managed by a line manager who is not expert in your field. This might make you lose motivation over time and stressful.
    -High employee turnover rate.
    -The actual tasks of the role might be different than the job description or what was been stated in the interview.
    -stress related illnesses
    -you might find yourself reporting to many managers, which can be tricky.

    Advice to Management

    You desperately need a software manager, and you desperately need to make the so called “senior software developers” contribute to the software development process rather than pretending to be busy with administration work. Hire more people if necessary - but let TEAMS focus on SMALL projects and complete them.

    Also, do not criticise people who are really working very hard for you. They may need redirection, but the best way to do that is certainly not guilt trips or harassing them about dropping the ball on some other area. Figure out how and when they need additional support to accomplish their tasks.


  2. "if you want to spoil your scientific career"

    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
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Diamond Light Source full-time

    Pros

    you get in contact with many international research groups

    Cons

    100% politic and 0% meritocracy.
    If you want to do a career here please switch off your brain, start to have coffee/tea/anydrink and chat with anyone (better with VIP).
    The management lacks the ability to define clearly task and duties; this generates continuous controversies discussed with human resources (and many formal/informal investigations)

    Advice to Management

    Being able to listen to criticism is a quality of real good managers. Criticism should be used for self improvement.

  3. "World class"

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

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source full-time

    Pros

    - Innovative and world-leading
    - An environment full of highly motivated staff
    - A good level of freedom to perform R&D within the general field of structural characterization using X-rays or electrons
    - Good benefits
    - Excellent future prospects for the wider research campus at Harwell

    Cons

    - Salary to cost-of-living ratio not favourable
    - Career progression can be difficult after 5+ years in the company
    - Overloading of work onto 'willing' individuals without recognition or willingness to recruit additional effort

    Advice to Management

    - Take action to improve career progression, recognition and salaries/benefits
    - Create a better team working culture within the organisation


  4. "Great Place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Beamline Scientist in Didcot, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Beamline Scientist in Didcot, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Diamond Light Source full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Excellent commitment to science, great working conditions, good people, flexible.

    Cons

    High cost of living compared to wages.


  5. "Interesting place to work!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Didcot, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Didcot, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Opportunity to work at a world-class facility
    Good working environment with supportive colleagues

    Cons

    Unclear company structure which creates confusion

    Advice to Management

    Keep focusing on developing staff and consulting team members to incorporate their feedback into future plans


  6. "An imperfect, but decent place to work. Just don't expect your career to skyrocket.."

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

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    The construction of Diamond Light Source is a truly remarkable achievement, built on the hard work of a great many people over many years. It’s a genuinely impressive place to work, and a huge technical accomplishment. The large international staff are brilliant to work alongside and it’s great to see so many cultures under one roof. Having people from so many different backgrounds really helps to drive research and innovation. The atmosphere is friendly, and the company (on the whole) offers excellent flexible working conditions for staff, and a good holiday allowance.

    There is also unlimited free tea and coffee, which is a small thing but certainly helps keep a workplace ticking over and is often overlooked!

    Cons

    Pay has not risen in line with private industry in the UK or Europe, nor with increases in Oxfordshire living costs. The benefits (flexible working conditions, friendly atmosphere) are increasingly inadequate to compensate for a government imposed salary “austerity”. This leaves Diamond Light Source unable to attract the “best and brightest” as it once did (as evidenced by the number of candidates who are interviewed and offered posts, but ultimately decline the job). Overall staffing levels have fallen when compared to the increasing size of the facility and increasing number of clients (“Users”) that we cater for. However, the expectations (from Government, from Diamond leadership, from our external visiting scientists) are just as high as they have ever been.

    This leaves Diamond barely able to provide the level of service that is demanded of us, to the level of quality that we would like. This all has knock-on effects: an increasing pressure from management, unsustainable workloads, and staff stress. As an example of the effect this can have, high workloads often leave our "research staff" unable to conduct any research as they're too busy firefighting and focusing on the day-to-day running of the facility. This is a serious problem for career-researchers who find themselves without time to publish papers, limiting future job opportunities.

    The “staffing infrastructure” (i.e. HR, guidelines and procedures) put in place to construct a world-class science facility has not coped with the transition from “building” to “operating”. Procedures that may have worked well whilst Diamond Light Source was a building site and a small company of >100 employees are not working with 500 staff, and have broadly been failing for the last 5 years. Career progression and recognition for outstanding performance is perceived to be virtually non-existent. Even something as simple as rewarding staff for hard work in a timely way is very difficult as a line manager or team leader due to the convoluted nature of the procedures in place and the lack of direction from HR. A new head of HR has been employed in 2016 though, and they have promised to review these procedures. So far, their efforts in improving the HR problems discussed here look encouraging.

    Advice to Management

    The current workload that is expected of staff is unsustainable in the long run. The organisation cannot continue on its current trajectory without something “giving”. It is a good guess that this will probably manifest as either a snowballing of stress related illnesses, or the high-profile failure to deliver on major projects or milestones.

    Thus, simply, the biggest issue that Diamond management faces is that it must either be prepared to increase its salary budget to hire more staff / hire better staff / train new staff, or it must reduce the level of service that it is committed to provide. Once it has employed staff, it must also be prepared to offer training and timely rewards in order to keep the “best and brightest” working here.

    Conversely, support from HR must be available in order to help identify staff and line managers that may be struggling to perform, and to offer these individuals assistance. Currently, this is not the case, and too often individuals who are not performing at their best are allowed to continue floundering.


  7. "Nice place to work"

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

    Pros

    Fascinating science which at its best is to the benefit of humanity
    Intelligent colleagues, positive attitude
    Helpful HR group
    Training and self-development support

    Cons

    While it's a joint venture company, it's mostly publicly funded, so the salaries are not as high as in the private sector.

    Advice to Management

    There should be a better defined career path for technical and software staff.

    Housing is expensive in Oxfordshire, and public sector salaries aren't always enough - the campus needs to sort out subsidised, affordable housing for its employees.

  8. "Software Developer, Team Leader"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Harwell, South East England, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Harwell, South East England, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Team, Colleagues, Science, Work, Location

    Cons

    Salary, Management, Location, Housing, Commute


  9. "Software engineer"

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

    Pros

    Very friendly atmosphere with a good work/life balance

    Cons

    Salary lower than in private sector.


  10. "A nice place to work in and learn new things"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Design Engineer in Didcot, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Mechanical Design Engineer in Didcot, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    It's a nice place to work at as an engineer: you get the chance to work at very different projects and you can extend your knowledge on a lot of very diverse fields. It's a multicultural environment and there is a lot high tech.

    Cons

    Sometimes things change slowly and there isn't a clear career path (not considering some automatic saley rises for the first years)

    Advice to Management

    Motivate the staff more giving them opportunities to be promoted to different roles.


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