Chemonics International - Best education in international development and more | Glassdoor
There are newer employer reviews for Chemonics International
There are newer employer reviews for Chemonics International

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Helpful (12)

"Best education in international development and more"

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

I have been working at Chemonics International full-time

Pros

Chemonics offers the best education in international development project management and business development in the industry - hands down. The company's competitors regularly - and begrudgingly - hire current and former staff because they know Chemonics employees are versatile and well trained.

Chemonics offers a fast-paced, youthful, and collegial environment where everyone is encouraged to learn and staff are given the opportunity to try almost every aspect of the company’s work. It also offers ample opportunities to travel overseas, so the work is never mundane for long. During my tenure at the company, I have held several different positions, worked in multiple divisions, traveled to dozens of fascinating countries, and lived overseas long-term. As in any company, one’s supervisor has a major influence on job satisfaction, but at the end of the day your job is what you make of it and Chemonics offers many internal job opportunities, so most motivated and talented employees can get out from under a poor supervisor. It is true that the recent levelling-off of funding for international development has hit Chemonics and the international development industry hard, resulting in staffing reductions, slower growth even today, and fewer promotion or job opportunities than in the period from 2005-2010 when funding for development sky-rocketed. But, what was once a smorgasbord of opportunity is now more akin to the environment when I joined and the reality in many other industries in the U.S. It is worth maintaining perspective – there are few companies in the U.S. where you can do more good and see more of the developing world than at a company like Chemonics.

Also, in response to the recent comments of a former employee who posted that they thought Chemonics was "the most unethical company in DC" and that it "lives by cheating its main client, USAID", I must say that have worked at Chemonics for more than a decade, as an associate, manager, and director, in the home office and overseas, and I can state without reservations that this is categorically untrue. My experience is that Chemonics’ upper management and nearly all its employees strive to be ethical at all times. Keep in mind that Chemonics as a company and its employees work in some of the most corrupt and hostile environments in the world - so ethical dilemmas with government counterparts, local subcontractors, beneficiaries and stakeholders, etc. happen all the time. With that context in mind, I think Chemonics' track record of excellent client service speaks for itself. The systems at Chemonics, the government's regulatory structures and environment, and the never-ending audits make it not only difficult to "cheat" and get away with it, there are clear disincentives for even trying. One only need to look at the demise of AED to see that being unethical does not pay. I will also add, that in my many years at Chemonics no one has ever asked me directly or indirectly to do something that I thought was unethical or was "cheating" our client.

Lastly, the reviewer’s comment suggesting that directors ask associates to falsify timesheets is surprising because anyone who has worked at Chemonics knows that associates rarely bill their time directly to clients and when they do it is always approved in advance by the client and then followed by submission of pre-determined deliverables for client approval. This makes it highly improbable, if not nearly impossible, for any employee, even if directed, to falsify a timesheet.

Cons

Work-life balance is a perennial challenge and improvements could be made, but if current or prospective employees are looking for a consistent 9-5 job then they should probably look elsewhere - Chemonics is not the place for people who are not willing to either work very efficiently or put in extra hours when the job demands it – which is often.

Every company has some staff who are poor supervisors, where Chemonics' can continue to improve is in its systems for identifying and addressing senior staff (executives and directors especially) with poor personnel management skills. This could include providing staff with everything from regular and timely feedback, to leadership training, to re-assignments, or, in the worst cases, to termination. Recent improvements to the performance evaluation system, including biannual reviews for all staff focused on the organization’s values and the first ever 360 degree anonymous performance reviews for executive management, are a really good start.

Advice to Management

Pay matters. Last year's salary adjustment was a step in the right direction, but more should be done to bring associate and manager compensation in line with the industry and the cost of living in DC.

Continue improving the performance management systems and culture, particularly for senior staff and executives because poor leadership and bad personnel management are the biggest drains on productivity, creativity, morale, and retention of talent.

The world is changing. Invest in the future. USAID is a fantastic client in many ways, but its overall budget has plateaued, funding for traditional development organizations (for-profit and non-profit) is shrinking, and resources are shifting to new partners – especially local but others as well. The long-term growth of the company and health of the ESOP (beyond payment of the debt) will not happen as a USAID-only contractor. Get creative and invest strategically in new opportunities that could pay dividends in the future with new clients and with USAID too.

Be more thoughtful about who gets promoted to senior levels – director and executive. Not everyone is able to be promoted to those levels so when someone does get promoted to a senior level it says volumes to junior staff about the skills, attitude, values, and experiences the company values.

A strength can also be a weakness. Chemonics' promote-from-within model and culture has many benefits, but it also has its limits. Not every position in the company can be adequately staffed from internal resources. Hire new blood and talent, especially at the director level (and for some executive roles) to bring new ideas and networks and to challenge old assumptions.

Other Employee Reviews for Chemonics International

  1. Helpful (5)

    "Positive change has been inadequate"

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

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

    Pros

    High energy
    Not oppressive, generally
    Opportunities to do some interesting stuff
    Some good people, mostly pretty smart (intellectually at least)

    Cons

    Cliques/favoritism, starting at the top. A top executive might be terribly abusive to his/her people, and then the person they spoke to about it is best buddies with that person. Mediocre talent might be approved for working full time from a non-DC location--if they have the right in.
    Lip service paid to "values" -- there are some terrible humans getting away with appalling treatment of others.

    Advice to Management

    See above.


  2. "Great place to grow, to a point"

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

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

    Pros

    There are many opportunities for professional development within the regional business units and you will get exposure to every major element of development project management within a few years.

    Cons

    Opaque decision making processes. Bizarre corporate culture which invests in individual professional development but systemically refuses to value its employees' value-add, resulting in significant attrition at the mid-levels of management.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on retain of your managers.

There are newer employer reviews for Chemonics International
There are newer employer reviews for Chemonics International

See Most Recent

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