Gerson Lehrman Group Reviews | Glassdoor

Gerson Lehrman Group Reviews

Updated May 22, 2018
410 reviews

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3.1
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Paul Todd
5 Ratings

410 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Hours are intense but work life balance is good compared to other finance/consulting type roles (in 34 reviews)

  • Very collaborative work environment (in 28 reviews)

Cons
  • The work-life balance is absolutely horrendous (in 32 reviews)

  • Unless you are in the A team of the BU boss' favorites, you don't get any facetime with the senior management (in 17 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Business Development Manager in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Business Development Manager in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Has a visionary CEO with a strong personality; a proven business model; smart and hardworking workforce

    Cons

    Nothing glaring; The company is growing and has some work to do in maintaining its leadership in the space, as its competition is on its heels

    Advice to Management

    Invest in diversity


  2. Helpful (8)

    "Be positive. When you've hit rock bottom, you can only go up!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Research Associate in Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Senior Research Associate in Austin, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Working in this environment really helped me come to terms with my mental health when I'm at an all time low. I was in a pretty unhealthy relationship with my manager. Her criticism made me feel very depressed, and unfortunately, high key micromanaging is beneficial to profit so her behavior kept up very consistently. As a young professional, I've never learned to confront a manager or talk to HR about concerns, and while I put in effort to learn how, I wasn't taken seriously. But that's ok, the company has a lot of issues to work out, and they just choose not to focus on how they treat their people AS MUCH as most everything else (that's not to say they aren't trying - they are!).

    Anyways, the depression I was in forced me to learn how to put my foot down, draw a line between work and life, and find coping methods to deal with incredibly stressful life events such as the extreme stress you experience in this job. I've worked in an ER and never felt as stressed as when I worked here to such little benefit/reward.

    I look at this as a learning opportunity. If you want to push your stress levels to the limit, see how much it takes you to crack, feel the pull of demanding clients from every direction around the clock, then step up to the plate. You won't be let down by GLG

    If you're looking for a job to start your career, but do not feel like you want the above, I might suggest starting somewhere else. This role is not for the average Joe.

    Cons

    I wish the company would advertise the incredible amount of stress and long working hours of this role. There are too many unsuspecting new grads or young professionals that don't understand their own limits and take on this job to find their physical or mental health in check. It's true that they provide the app Talkspace, although this doesn't tend to help the majority of people in the role who can't commit enough time to benefit from this tool.

    Due to the long working hours, we were asked to choose "1 activity per week" outside of work - choose wisely. At first I chose tv and then ultimately switched to meditation when I was getting very depressed. I did have a friend who had gone to HR due to a laps in mental health and she was kindly asked to leave the company and seek a better fitting role since they couldn't help her.

    Advice to Management

    I hope y'all take a step back and look at the sand castle your building, the tide is about to come in.

  3. Helpful (14)

    "A balanced approach to evaluating GLG"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Research Manager in Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Research Manager in Austin, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I worked in NAFS Research in Austin, and my remarks should be evaluated in that light. I can not speak at all for the PSF or Support divisions in the company.

    For a certain kind of person, GLG is a great place to start a career:

    1. You are fresh out of college.
    2. You want a path to a career in managing people.
    3. You are a liberal arts major looking for a comparatively high paying job for your skills.
    4. You are an extravert who derives satisfaction from pleasing people.
    5. Your career is your number 1 priority in your life.
    6. You want to learn office politics.
    7. You are at the Austin office, or at least not in New York. From limited experience, I do not recommend working at the New York office if you can be elsewhere.

    GLG is comparatively unique, I think, in giving fresh out of college liberal arts majors a chance to manage people in a comparatively short amount of time. And the employees, in general, are very nice.

    I'm shocked by the number of complaints about diversity in these reviews. I believe GLG has more women managing people than men. I was part of many junior hiring decisions made at the company, and a person's race, gender, or sexual orientation never came up in discussions. The company is also very LGBT friendly. (It is true though, that at the very highest levels of management, that it's all men.) Despite being in the "financial sector" most of the company's employees are Democrats.

    The company is extremely strong on sexual harassment prevention - and I was there before the "Me Too" period. It was made abundantly clear we'd be fired if we engaged in such behavior. The training, led by Senior (Legal) Counsel Patrick Gordon, is very good. (In general the company's Legal and Compliance teams are very good personally and professionally. Most of them are based in Austin. I recommend getting to know them.)

    All taken together, I think the company was - in the grand scheme of things - improving when I left.

    Cons

    For a certain kind of person, GLG is a subpar place to advance your career:

    - You are an experienced hire and manager. Your possibilities for career advancement are limited, and largely depend on whether your boss quits.

    Many of the best managers realize this and leave the company. This leads to a disproportionally high amount of managers who've been 'promoted to their level of incompetence' (as the old saying goes) to run the company.

    - You are an introvert.
    - You seek an intellectually stimulating job.
    - You have a degree in business.
    - Your career is not your top priority in life.
    - You are not a "people pleaser".
    - You have an advanced degree.
    - You are not good at office politics, and have no desire to learn office politics.
    - You openly support Trump. I STRONGLY DISLIKE Trump, but think all employees should feel comfortable discussing politics.

    At the junior level, the company won't fire you if you're incompetent. But they won't promote you either. Most managers are uncomfortable with confrontation.

    Your success at the company is strongly correlated with how great your manager is. But I think that's unfortunately true with most businesses. Still, the company should address it.

    Advice to Management

    - The "activity based work environment" (i.e. open office with no privacy) architecture does not work, and is not backed up by hard data on efficacy. There were few employees I spoke to who preferred ABW.

    The company needs to make it easier for employees to work in peace and quiet. Many employees wear earphones to help them to focus, but that negates many of the supposed advantages of an open office.

    There are some cubicles available. But unfortunately managers get mad when you don't "sit with your team". And again, this negates the supposed benefit of an open office.

    - Allow employees flexibility in terms of start time, end time, and where they sit. As long as they get their work done, who cares? I know management will argue that employees need to arrive at the office when clients do, but realistically GLG'ers run 15 minute errands all the time. So why should arriving 15 minutes late matter? Employees live on their smartphone email anyway,

    - Eye Glass is insulting. For one, it's Orwellian as it obviously means Spy Glass. You hire smart employees, so trust them. (Trust is a two way street.) I think many clients prefer simple emails as well. Eye Glass is a huge drain on employee morale.

    - The vacation policy is unfair. An "unlimited vacation policy" is really a no vacation policy. Junior employees - for obvious reasons - often feel uncomfortable requesting time off. At the same time some senior employees use it with abandon. Go back to the 15 or 20 day vacation policy, which incentivizes some employees to cover for others during Christmas.

    - Force employees to disconnect during vacation. There appears to be expectation that you will still respond to emails during vacation, which I think is counterproductive.

    - Make it easier to take a sick day. At some roles taking a sick day is virtually impossible. And many managers don't encourage it.

    - Please reconsider the trading policy. The inability to initiate any stock positions, regardless of timing, decreases employee incentive to follow the stock market, which is counterproductive.

    - Stop denying who you are. You are an expert network, not a tech start up. You should be proud of that and embrace it as opposed to fighting your core strengths. The company has practically a monopoly on the expert network space, and the business model is (I think) highly lucrative. So embrace that and work from a position of strength as opposed to weakness.

    The company is a victim of its own success. Because the business model is so great, there is little management can do to improve upon it. But "idle hands are the Devil's playthings": that does not stop them from trying. The problem is that most of these management initiatives are a big time suck and distract from client service...leaving the company worse off for the experience.

    - Legal and Compliance should take a firmer stance on bespoke client compliance policies. If a compliance policy is good enough for XYZ investment firm, it should be good for ABC investment firm. Clients with crazy compliance policies occupy an insane amount of time and annoy their own analysts (who then incorrectly blame GLG for being slow, as opposed to their own attorneys). It's not fair to the clients who have sane compliance policies.

    - My number 1 suggestion is learn to differentiate between skill, luck, and effort. Many employees are promoted or praised because they got lucky - i.e., there was a hot news story which created a lot of business opportunities. At the same time, many employees are criticized for something that is not their fault - a lackluster news cycle didn't allow them to meet their goals. Or their clients simply don't have a lot of ideas they were working on at the moment. This means the wrong people are often promoted or denied promotion.

    So take a longterm approach to evaluating employee performance. Quarterly evaluations are statistically Insignificant noise, for instance.

    Along the same vein, understand that your business is highly cyclical. The fact that the company is growing a lot right now is probably because the stock market is near its all time high, and not due to the brilliance of management. Similarly, when the market (or a sector) tanks it's not management's fault for poor performance. The company could use ARIMA modeling to help adjust for cyclicality when evaluating employee performance.


  4. Helpful (3)

    "Senior Recruiter"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time

    Pros

    None at all, free sodas..?

    Cons

    Too much to list, people are leaving in crowds and those stay have no where else to go.


  5. "Research Manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Research Manager in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Research Manager in Austin, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great office space, on-site coffee barista, free lunch catered once a week, great coworkers

    Cons

    Long hours, work life balance issues, many un-trained managers, constant change

    Advice to Management

    Invest more in people managers and set targets to consider leadership responsibilities.


  6. "Great first job"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Account Manager in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Account Manager in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great company to get your foot into the corporate world and learn.

    Cons

    People here are promoted when others leave the firm. You can wait till the person above you leaves or move on to another firm.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "A very mixed bag, but I had great managers and am grateful for the learning experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Research Manager in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Senior Research Manager in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - Plenty of opportunities for promotion as well as lateral and geographic moves, if you play your cards right and have strong relationships. (e.g. plenty of smart front desk assistants have worked their way into good mid-level jobs)
    - More of a focus on enthusiasm, curiosity, and polish in hiring and promotion, which is somewhat more of a meritocracy than other East Coast firms (that can unfortunately be sticklers for inside connections and Ivy pedigrees)
    - A good place to build connections with senior clients and senior industry experts
    - Fast paced working environment where dull moments are rare
    - Free coffee barista (in NYC and Austin at least)
    - Hires diverse, intellectually curious, and (mostly) wonderful people to work with
    - I had 3 amazing managers and 1 bad one - so net positive. Do your diligence here!
    - Hours are variable (40 to 65 hours per week, depending on the team culture and role) but generally not extreme
    - Effort to make the organization more metrics-driven will probably lead to better variable comp opportunities and more meritocracy
    - Leadership clearly has invested in their own training and personal development. The CEO ("A.S.A") is a great example of a founder who made a conscious decision to grow and change with the company in order to stay relevant
    - Visible investments in corporate training that is increasingly targeted to help employees do their jobs better

    Cons

    - Frustratingly little (or inaccurate) transparency about bonus and raise amounts, as well as promotion potential
    - Competitive starting salaries given to outside hires, but there's a deliberate attempt by HR/management to give slow raises in order to grow "cheap" inside talent
    - Some jobs can be extremely repetitive (especially in entry-level sales and research)
    - As strategy is increasingly centralized in the organization, many seemingly senior posts are stripped of strategic decision-making. A VP-level job can have a lot of strategic responsibility, or none at all
    - Effort to make the organization more metrics-driven results in some jobs (e.g. research) that previously had autonomy/creativity becoming more prescriptive and micromanaged
    - Seemingly little training (other than soft skills) that is relevant for other jobs
    - The perception that insiders (those with 5+ years at GLG) struggle to get jobs outside of GLG unless they have strong personal connections or go back to school
    - Very few perks outside of cash comp and insurance. They set out ~25 snacks mid-afternoon in an office of 250+ people so they can say there's "free snacks" as part of the job. What a joke!

    Advice to Management

    Provide more transparency into compensation and promotion decisions. Think about how to make jobs more interesting and fulfilling for employees. You actually do have a churn problem for top talent and should take it seriously.

    Gerson Lehrman Group Response

    Apr 6, 2018 – Global Head of Human Resources

    Thanks for this thoughtful review. You highlight a lot of what we consistently hear to be good about GLG: opportunities for growth, investment in our employees, and a bright future for the company... More

  8. Helpful (20)

    "It's not a perfect job, but it's a well-paying job"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Research Manager in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Research Manager in Austin, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Look, everyone at GLG knows about the Glassdoor reviews, and everyone's known a disgruntled employee who left on poor terms and contributed a scathing criticism. A lot of the criticism is a natural side effect of GLG's target demographic: 23 year olds from rich parents & pedigree who have no prior work experience. To be fair, GLG has historically done a bad job at accurately marketing the role, which has led to the wrong people in the wrong positions. However, a lot of the criticisms posted here (including those written by people I know) essentially boil down to, "I'm very upset that I have a manager who's allowed to make demands on my time and hold me accountable when I underperform."

    To anyone considering working here, I'd advise you to take the reviews of more junior employees (<1 year) with a grain of salt. There's a reason the company's retention rate is higher for those who come to GLG with prior work experience.

    Anyway, here's what the past few years with GLG have taught me: It's not a perfect company, but it's not a bad job. GLG offers a nice working space, competitive benefits, competitive (if not inflated) salary, and an accelerated track for people & account management. Within 2-3 years, employees can expect to be managing a small team, with another 2-3 years putting you on track to manage several teams and manage huge portions of your division's accounts. While the skills you're learning are mostly qualitative (professional communication, negotiation, time management, people management), these play nicely into a resume for future management roles.

    Working in the Research segment is an on-call role, and nights and weekends are frequently interrupted by client demand, but the company pays well for your time. For some people, the trade-off isn't worth it, so think critically about the value you place on leaving at 5pm + not replying to emails on weekends.

    There are some excellent people at GLG who love their jobs, and I've been lucky enough to work for/with them. My days are busy and work always bleeds over into the next day, but I'm in constant dialogue with people around me about their weekends, pets, bad dates, and newest Netflix binges. When I joined the company, we sat in cubicles and no one spoke to each other in a cramped office with no perks. Now, I have a beautiful view of downtown, a free coffee bar, and healthy work friends. The management is getting better, and the work hours are getting better as accounts are finally staffed appropriately. There have been rocky periods, but overall I think the company is becoming a better place to work. I don't do the work out of passion, but that's the reality of most jobs. Work hard, network well, and the company will continue to pay you more than most of your peers with the same skill set at other firms.

    Cons

    My experience isn't universal, and there are some truly, TRULY terrible managers at GLG. These are the bad apples who don't let their employees take lunch, sick days, or vacation. (By the way, GLG -- your "no minimum vacation" policy is actively harmful when it means some employees take 30+ vacation days annually and other employees take 0, with NO ACCOUNTABILITY to the managers allowing this.) This isn't unique to GLG, but it is something the company must continue to work on if it intends to retain talent and improve these mixed Glassdoor reviews. There's a decent amount of flexibility to transfer to new teams IF the company thinks you're going to stick it out another 1-2 years, but I'm sympathetic for those who have tried to escape awful managers and been denied.

    Likewise, there are teams that are overstaffed and consistently blow past arbitrarily set goals despite leaving at 4pm every day, and teams that are understaffed, overworked, and penalized when they fall short of unreasonably high targets. The divide breeds resentment, and the aggressive growth rate isn't sustainable for all clients. GLG could attempt to solve for this (and overall work/life balance) with a queue system for new requests and follow-the-sun staffing, but still has far too much pride in how their elite clients value the account managers. It's not true, employees know it isn't true, but the antiquated idea persists. I'm hopeful it will change in the next 3-5 years.

    GLG's technology is abhorrently dysfunctional and frequently causes huge losses and mass employee frustration & panic. It's not uncommon for all systems to shut down, and new programs to be rolled out before being properly beta-tested. Compensation is directly tied to metrics, but those metrics can be hard to find and riddled with errors in the reporting. Employees spend countless hours building complicated Excel sheets to manage the most basic client data so we can have some hope of getting accurate numbers. There's a rumor that the CTO hired a team of his dev buddies to run things, and I have no idea if that's true, but it's the most plausible explanation for how terrible our systems are. Guys, I'm trying my very best here, but you've got to give us some better tools to work with.

    Lastly, GLG definitely has a diversity problem. The straight white Ivy frat boys who keep getting hired don't even like the job, because all of their buddies went directly to Wall Street or sexy marketing roles and are making better money. As long as the recruitment strategy continues to target top tier schools and rely heavily on referrals, this won't change. GLG just hired an experienced CHRO, so my hopes are up about the future of the gender/race demographics in the office, but this is a serious issue that's remaining solidly in the con category for now.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in technology, for the love of god please invest in technology and bring in a third party to audit literally everyone in IT. Please. (Don't dox me, I'm just the messenger.)

    360 REVIEWS. Was this just a rumor in 2016? If I post about it on Glassdoor, will someone remember that it's a phenomenal idea?

    GLG has an inflated sense of itself and is convinced that only Northeast college talent can comprehend what it does, but anyone with strong written/verbal communication and time management skills should be able to perform decently in the role, expensive college degree or not. Stop recruiting from ivys, and start going to state schools (or even 2-year degrees for highly administrative roles, like ROps). And has the referral campaign really been going that well?

    Kill the culture of being "on the desk" at all times, at all costs. HR makes us sign a document saying we're entitled to a 1-hour break every 5 hours, but no one has the freedom to take it. That's lip-service, folks!

    If 2+ employees say someone is a bad manager, take them seriously, no matter how good of an individual contributor that person is.

    I hear a minimum vacation policy is coming, and if so: enforce it. Follow up with managers whose people aren't taking days off.

    Gerson Lehrman Group Response

    Feb 7, 2018 – Global Head of Human Resources

    Thanks so much for your review. Like I’ve said in several of my responses, I read all the Glassdoor reviews and many come up in conversations with the management team (many of whom are avid readers... More


  9. Helpful (6)

    "An Okay First Job"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Associate in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Senior Associate in Austin, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    opportunities to talk to sophisticated professionals

    opportunity to grow within the company

    can learn a host of soft skills in addition to time management & project execution

    great co-workers

    aesthetically nice work environment

    Cons

    a pretty numbing and mindless job

    leadership is phony and bent on branding GLG with no employee buy in

    once you learn the skills needed, you'll plateau and senior tenured employees basically do the same work as junior associates

    high attrition

    bad work life balance, expect to set up projects at night and on weekends


  10. Helpful (15)

    "Senior Associate Program"

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

    I worked at Gerson Lehrman Group full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    barely living wage although not exactly if you divide it over the hours you're expected to work without clocking overtime

    Cons

    This "job" is a scam; I graduated from a top tier university and spent 8 months working in the "Senior Associate Program" after I had spent a year in the Peace Corps. They lie to you about the nature of the work that you'll be doing-- I spent my whole day cold messaging people on LinkedIn. The workplace has very little racial diversity, and it is cliquey in a fratty, unintellectual way. Only apply if you literally have no other option.

    Advice to Management

    Be less disingenuous I suppose? Don't let talented people do boring, unethical work all day.


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