Mathematica Policy Research Reviews | Glassdoor

Mathematica Policy Research Reviews

Updated March 20, 2019
157 reviews

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3.6
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Mathematica Policy Research President Paul Decker
Paul Decker
79 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "Decent work/life balance (I work between 40 and 45 hours a week, generally and have work from home twice a week to accommodate family needs)" (in 22 reviews)

  • "Additionally, about a quarter of the company is work from home" (in 9 reviews)

Cons
  • "There is no mentoring of Project Directors" (in 10 reviews)

  • "Newly hired senior staff have no idea of the culture of the company" (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (6)

    "Change is Happening!"

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

    I have been working at Mathematica Policy Research full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Employees who work at Mathematica are very high achieving and have very high expectations of the company. Leadership cares about the company and tries hard to do the right thing. Employees have many avenues to voice their concerns. Performance expectations are extremely high. Colleagues are supportive and nice.

    Cons

    The company is getting bigger which means implementing more structure. There is also a lot of organizational change happening. Many employees who have been with Mathematica for 10 years or more are having a hard time with all the change. While leadership isn't getting everything absolutely right, they are being very thoughtful and deliberate.

    Advice to Management

    Mathematica is a mission driven organization. The work that is done here impacts real world social policies. Mathematica's work is used to make important decisions that impact people inside and outside the US. Mathematica is not about consumerism or products. It is a great place to work if you want your work to matter and not just line someone's pockets. However, the company still needs to act like a business and that means sometimes making hard decisions or trade offs so that employees can be compensated and receive the benefits that they are used to and deserve. I encourage leadership to keep thinking carefully about these trade-offs and not forget that in a organization whose product is data and information, the people that manage, analyze, and communicate that information are its most precious asset.


  2. Helpful (3)

    "Good pay but soul-sucking culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Survey Researcher in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Survey Researcher in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at Mathematica Policy Research full-time

    Pros

    Good quality research going on, great colleagues, interesting work, variety of projects, excellent pay and benefits.

    Cons

    The culture is very competitive, with people anxiously trying to get on projects they are interested in. Seems like you have to be someone's favorite to get the best assignments. If you are one of the favorites your future is assured. If not, but your performance is otherwise impeccable, you could be stuck in the same role for a while. No interest in mentoring or building skill sets to move people ahead. Seemed rather a snobby environment to me. If you're an economist with a phd, great. If not, it doesn't really matter how many years of practical experience you have, you will not be getting leadership roles on projects of interest to you. It drains your self-esteem, makes you bitter, and gives you PTSD. Unless you are at the top of your career already, don't come here.

    Advice to Management

    Note: I left the company five years ago. I'm told there has been a lot of restructuring but from the reviews here, it has only made things worse.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Excellent company but might be getting too big"

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

    I have been working at Mathematica Policy Research full-time

    Pros

    Excellent and smart colleagues, flexible work schedule, great work from home policies

    Cons

    Getting too big which makes the company have less of a community feel


  4. "Great part time job"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Project Assistant in Tucson, AZ
    Former Employee - Project Assistant in Tucson, AZ

    I worked at Mathematica Policy Research part-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    flexible hours and great pay for a part time job. also had good benefits and PTO

    Cons

    when projects end your hours get cut


  5. Helpful (3)

    "A good solid company on all levels"

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

    I have been working at Mathematica Policy Research full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    -Very smart and innovative colleagues who are generous with their time and expertise
    -Decent work/life balance (I work between 40 and 45 hours a week, generally and have work from home twice a week to accommodate family needs)
    -Room to move up and relative autonomy in day to day work
    -Collegiality and support from management
    -Pay is good (not outstanding), benefits are good
    -Company is growing and is an innovator among its competitors

    Cons

    -Can be intense, you have to be ok with a constant stream of feedback, some of which is not always positive (although it's always respectful, never degrading)
    -Can take a long time to prove yourself and get on projects you like. No one is really directing your professional growth, it's on you
    -Expectations around billable hours can be vague, leading you to feel like you're never billing enough
    -None of these cons make me want to leave, however

    Advice to Management

    Clarify expectations around billable time
    Allow employees to explicitly carve out a certain amount of time each year for professional development


  6. Helpful (5)

    "Good support and friendly faces right out of College"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Associate
    Current Employee - Program Associate
    Recommends

    I have been working at Mathematica Policy Research full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Lots of freedom to work on projects that you find interesting. TONS of support from coworkers and supervisors for new staff. I felt really welcome when I started. Flexible hours, and work from home options are a plus. In general, people really care about the work that they're doing and want to make a positive difference in the world.

    Cons

    The work can be fairly isolating. While each team is collaborative, very little teamwork occurs in-person. Instead, everyone spends tons of time sending emails and talking to each other over the phone. It can be draining to sit in front of a computer and not meaningfully interact with another person face-to-face for days at a time.

    Additionally, while the company is making real progress with issues of diversity and inclusion, it still has a ways to go with fully integrating a comprehensive understanding of social justice in the workplace culture. That said, I don't know of any other company in this sector that's clearly handling these issues better, so this is not much of a con. Maybe with that context, this is a pro, since Mathematica appears to be ahead of many other orgs even though it's not enough.


  7. Helpful (6)

    "No room to learn! Don't work here!!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Research Analyst
    Current Employee - Research Analyst
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Mathematica Policy Research full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    There are some great project managers and PIs who care and give opportunities to learn and grow. However, I didn't come across many.

    Cons

    -Little opportunity to learn. Most analysts have responsibilities that are below their ability level and getting challenging work is about your luck (being in the right project at the right time – usually when the budget doesn’t allow senior folks to do the work.) So people with Masters degree’s may be stuck writing the intro to proposals for or taking meeting notes for years on end.

    -Hierarchical structure. It’s a toss up on if analysts are invited to project meetings or are just given instructions without context later on. If analysts are at meetings, it is rare for them to feel like they are able to speak out.

    -Company culture is sad. Calling someone who sits down the hall from you is just depressing. Wake up people! Humans are social beings and the office culture needs a revamp!

    Advice to Management

    Ask your employees (anonymously) how long they intend to stay at the company. That may be your wake up call. A lot needs to change and quickly!

  8. "positive experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Mathematica Policy Research full-time

    Pros

    diverse culture, investment in junior staff

    Cons

    large variety in project work


  9. Helpful (24)

    "Killing me softly with this song"

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

    I worked at Mathematica Policy Research full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Associate Director, HR who responds to the reviews
    Bagel Fridays

    Cons

    Talent comes here to die. Skill comes here to get rusty. Why? because this company lives in 1980s rather than 2018.

    The Assoc. Dir, HR, who so graciously took time from their busy schedule to respond to the reviews, and I seem to be working for different companies. Either that or they have been so numbed by their surroundings (senior management) that they can't tell the difference. What they said is all a big corporate speak for "I will tow the party line and if possible will put the onus on the employee."

    In a response to one of the reviews it was said, "Recently we have had more opportunities to work on IT projects and our staff has embraced those projects." The reality is the staff has no idea how to handle IT projects. Simple trivial tasks are over-estimated. The technology leadership has no idea it is 2018 because they are still living with FORTRAN and SAS which btw is being put in operations on a programmer laptop not even centralized servers. They are hiring external vendors to stand up internal corporate tools, while you have qualified people to do that work (and have time to do it by the way). The real IT staff you have hired, do not get pulled into the right conversations because your VPs and CTO and “Supervisors” don’t want to lose their control.

    In response to another review there was mention of “exciting time of change”. More like don’t know where the card will land. Even after numerous re-orgs, the key structure remains the same. Its all a matter of who knows who and not who is the best person for the job. There are senior personnel reporting to supervisor on a junior level. Mind you, this is a matrix org so the supervisor is not the task manager. Here supervisor is supposed to be a mentor to help you find your place in the organization..

    Steve jobs said - It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.
    What this company does is the exact opposite or even worse. They hire smart people and then make up stuff without their input. (External world still thinks its becaue of all the smart people they hired). Then they go in town halls and chest thump about the future and use cool jargon. Anybody remember Enron? Their town halls were full of chest thumping till the day they closed.

    The monthly project reviews are a farce. There is no mentoring of Project Directors. Mostly because they don’t have a clue or just care about their own fiefdom. Asking lame questions in a 15 min session does not give you the picture of the project.

    Coming to the, "Mathematica’s Diversity Council" Just by hiring diverse people does not stop your company from being racist. You need to embrace their difference in mannerisms which are culturally motivated. Not everyone speaks/ acts like a white person. Do you even know the ratio of non-white senior management or even Project Directors? One white project director handles multiple projects when other capable personnel are relegated to the shadows.

    BTW, your management does not share forward looking information or strategy. They share their past performance, and strategy decisions they have made without the employees' input.

    Finally to the CEO. In my years here I have yet to see him walk down the hall talking to people. Who is your company Mr. Decker? the senior managers who hold their nose high or the staff member that is prioritizing the work they do for your company, over their families, their illness, their children, their life? Why don’t you stop by the desk of a staff member and ask them how has the day been for them? What is it that you can do to make their jobs easier? Please ask your senior managers to clear their calendars and stop hiding behind pretend busy schedules. After all if they don’t work for their staff who do they work for?


  10. Helpful (6)

    "Great for senior staff"

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

    I have been working at Mathematica Policy Research full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Nice people and positive work environment. Mission is strong and shared among staff.

    Cons

    Company heavily caters to its senior (PHD ) researchers.
    Few opportunities at lower levels and politics required to get those opportunities due to crowded staff looking higher quality work.