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Optimal (WA)

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Optimal (WA)

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Optimal (WA) Reviews

Updated Jul 21, 2021

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Found 19 of over 22 reviews

3.6
57%
Recommend to a Friend
78%
Approve of CEO
Optimal (WA) CEO Sung Rhee (no image)
Sung Rhee
9 Ratings

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Top Review Highlights by Sentiment

Pros
  • "Work/life balance is amazing, there are often small impromptu team(in 3 reviews)
  • "Free food (weekly Amazon Fresh deliveries)(in 3 reviews)
Cons
Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.
  1. 5.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Great company culture

    Jan 8, 2020 - Software Engineer in Kirkland, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Working at SR Education Group was really awesome, everyone there is super friendly and they often play board games and play wine on Friday afternoons. They also have regular company lunches that are paid for and have a full kitchen you can use to make lunches (they will buy whatever food/ingredients you ask for). There is also a pool table and ping pong table you can use, and they don’t expect you to work more than 8 hours a day even if it means pushing back deadlines. You can have a lot of ownership over specific products if that’s what you want.

    Cons

    They are based in Kirkland, so if you live in Seattle the commute is a bit annoying. The pay could also be better.

    1 person found this review helpful
  2. 2.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Don’t recommend

    Jul 21, 2021 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Location, work remote eligibility for many positions, & easy to maintain Work-life balance.

    Cons

    Antisocial and downright rude CEO, callous and often nonexistent management, insufficient training, fearful employees (due to constant lay offs & unexplained changes in company structure/priorities), and an overall strange company culture that only exists at meal time. The company boasts about a “flat” org-chart, when in reality, it only highlights their unwillingness to promote employees and pay industry standard (developers, especially!)

    Continue reading
    Be the first to find this review helpful
  3. 3.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    It all depends what you are looking for

    Nov 11, 2019 - Production Manager in Kirkland, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    A good place to put your foot in the door right after college for editors, IT guys etc. Free food and beverages, team/company meals Free orca card, flex pass, and parking for some employees Diversity: age, ethnicity, gender, religion, belief, and family status. Flexible working hours

    Cons

    Suffering company culture - It looks like people are friendly and sweet at the beginning. Still, once you stay here longer, you experience a lot of backstabbing, no matter if you do your job correctly or not — lots of inner-office drama. When someone gets fired, no communication is sent to the team, and we pretend this person never existed. There a few skeletons in the closet nobody talks about, and that’s how most gossips are born. The team’s morale is low and suffers from a lack of honesty and integrity. “It’s better to be retroactive than take risks and be inventive”- not much space for new ideas or exploring new horizons. The job description doesn’t necessarily answer your job, and you may find yourself disappointed very quickly. Inequity - You will also soon discover that your voice in the organization isn’t as meaningful as those with more prominent seniority status. The open-door policy does not exist here. Unhealthy relationships between manages make people afraid of voicing their concerns. The managers seem to be lacking in training in managing people. There is no sense of direction, no succession planning, and no clear career path within the company. Serious and voiced on multiple occasions need for scheduled one-on-one meetings with managers has not been met. Face-to-face communication isn’t a thing - most of it happens via Slack or e-mail. You can hear a manager loudly say: “Stop! Whatever you’re doing!” interrupt you (and everyone else in the open space), walk down to you, and in a humiliating waypoint out some insignificant detail/mistake of your work. It indicates a lack of ethical practice and people skills. The company’s strategy isn’t known to the employees. You don’t know what’s the meaning of your work. The latest significant drop in the company’s revenue exemplifies the instability in the office. Unclear onboarding process and orientation for the newbies.

    4 people found this review helpful
  4. 5.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Great relationships and work environment. Bring initiative if you want to thrive

    Aug 11, 2019 - User Experience Designer in Kirkland, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    - Amazing people to work with. Everyone is very helpful if you aren't afraid to ask for help, and there were always great conversations at the lunch table. Lots of fun activities and the team is welcoming and tight-knit - Lots of opportunities to take charge and steer projects in a particular direction that's most helpful to your own professional growth, provided you take the initiative and figure out how to align your professional goals with those of the company - Great benefits, flexibility, and trust. Work life balance is great, and the company does things like weekly outings to the local farmers market, which is a nice break in the workday - Company encourages professional development, which I highly recommend taking advantage of.

    Cons

    - Company is very small and has been experiencing quite a bit of growth, so there are lots of growing pains. I think this is typical for any growing small company - Not a lot of guidance or mentorship from leadership, at least for my personal discipline (design). I found a way around this by seeking mentorship externally and taking advantage of conferences, etc., but it does require initiative. PMs who want to follow the path of a senior PM might have more luck seeking this out - At the moment, design is tertiary at this company. Leadership acknowledges/is transparent about this, at least.

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    1 person found this review helpful
  5. 2.0
    Former Employee

    Good place to start out

    Feb 3, 2018 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Free food, good learning opportunities, dogs welcome in office

    Cons

    The CEO is incredibly hands on and often invests in side projects (a travel website, a jobs website) that show little sign of taking off. People are very nice and you will learn a lot but mostly around one type of marketing and skill set. Most of the people at the company - especially the higher ups - have only ever worked for one company (SR). It shows in how the company is run and what “risks” they are willing to take. I got bored quickly.

    Continue reading
    3 people found this review helpful
  6. 4.0
    Current Employee

    Great Company Culture, Interesting Work

    Dec 16, 2016 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    A small, close-knit workplace with fantastic company culture and work-life balance.

    Cons

    Senior management can be frustrating to work with at times.

    Be the first to find this review helpful
  7. 5.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Great Experience

    Nov 11, 2015 - Content Manager 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    This was my first real job after graduating from college, and I wasn't expecting much by way of leadership opportunities or real responsibilities--especially not so quickly. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my input was valued and that my work was appreciated to the extent that my responsibilities grew very quickly. Within a year, I was helping to manage a major launch. I truly feel as though the company was invested in my success there, and that I got as much from the company as I put in. I'm incredibly grateful that I got a chance to work at SR because I can see how much I grew both personally and professionally during my time here. The work culture is also pretty great - we would often go to happy hours together and play board games on Friday afternoons, which helped keep the atmosphere fun and relaxed.

    Cons

    There isn't a lot of handholding done here, which can feel very scary. Looking back, there were times when I felt a little out of my depth; but I would not have known I was capable of leading projects if I hadn't been given those opportunities, and help was always there when I asked for it.

    2 people found this review helpful
  8. 5.0
    Current Employee

    A Great Place to Grow

    Nov 2, 2015 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    I strongly believe this is a 5-star company, while acknowledging that no company is perfect, because it provides such great opportunities and support. Here are some highlights: 1) There are huge learning opportunities & growth potential: This company expects great things from its employees and it sets lofty goals. This leads to enormous learning opportunities, from technical skills to project management to marketing strategy. Also, because the company is so small, employees learn skills across teams, so product members gain marketing skills and vice versa, for example. It is a great platform for people beginning their careers to gain marketable and valued skills, and for those that stick with the company long-term, those opportunities continue. 2) There’s a great culture & work-life balance: SR truly embraces the work hard/play hard mentality. To succeed, employees do need to regularly step up and help get through big pushes, but that is balanced by a high level of flexibility in all of the periods in between. This is a company that understands that appointments and obligations come up that require missing office time (within reason of course). There are regular board game days, a great vacation policy (that grows with seniority), and work-life balance is something management inquires and cares about. In general, benefits are very generous and have been driven in large part by requests of employees, which management has accommodated (like the growing vacation policy). 3) Employees have a high level of independence: Employees are expected to be self-directed in reaching goals, and are encouraged to find their own ways to solve problems and improve upon previous methods, which requires a lot of creativity (more in a problem-solving sort of way than an artistic way). This allows for freedom in work style and a high sense of ownership and accomplishment for completed projects.

    Cons

    A lot of the cons are corollaries to the pros, meaning the things that make the company great for some people can also make it a challenge or undesirable for others. The company culture is strong and it’s not for everyone. 1) Employees often have to learn as they go: Even new employees are given goals without the company knowing exactly how to achieve them. SR relies on smart and creative people to work hard and collaborate in order to get results, which provides huge learning opportunities and gives a high sense of ownership, but it can also be intimidating and overwhelming. There is a low level of structure and a high frequency of taking on new challenges, which simply works for some people and not others. 2) Management relies on guidance & feedback over a more active approach: SR employs an exceptionally high level of independence for individuals, basically, the opposite of micromanagement, to the extent that it is not a great environment for everyone. I've experienced very hands-on training and management regularly checking in and offering feedback, but for people who prefer to follow strict instructions the first time through a process in order to learn it, that's not often going to be the case, as the company evolves a lot based on new technologies or changes in the industry. Also, people need to be able to drive themselves to work hard and efficiently; employees whose work ethic depends on an external push or who lack strong time management skills can flounder, while they can excel in companies with more oversight and structure. 3) It’s a small company: For many people, there are disadvantages to being in a small (but growing) company. You will work with the same smaller group of people every day; you might have to handle responsibilities outside of your official role (like if a co-worker takes a vacation or a team is slammed for a big launch); and you have to be able to handle direct and honest feedback without taking it personally, as having more efficient communication is critical in a smaller, less structured environment.

    1 person found this review helpful
  9. 5.0
    Current Employee

    A Golden Opportunity

    Oct 13, 2015 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    I've read the negative (and even a few positive) reviews that seem to imply that this company has an identity crisis or that it is somehow flawed in its corporate structure. What few seem to understand is that while this is a profitable business, it is also a learning environment. I would go so far as to say that the primary goal of its founder is to develop his employees into whatever they wish to become. Any startup requires employees to wear multiple hats and develop a range of skills, but this company directly challenges employees to identify what they wish to be and what is required to make that possible. The president and founder is preternaturally aware and keenly savvy in his decision-making. He can convey an air of social obliviousness--though his insights reveal this to be a strategic facade. He takes every opportunity to encourage individual leadership, which can often frustrate those seeking acknowledgement for their efforts. Despite a seemingly callous demand for high performance and flexibility without praise, the president is exceedingly generous; offering benefits and financial support whenever it is requested. His mantra is "ask forgiveness, not permission," but it could just as easily be "no one will give you what you want." In many ways, this company is a classroom for future professionals. There is much to learn with goals that are quickly changing, requiring adaptable decision making and a loose structure to accommodate goals. As a result, stability can seem fragile. Compensation is an area that is somewhat distinct from the individual growth within the company, but like any company, there are annual raises and bonuses and some employees take the initiative to negotiate for additional salary raises. Depending on your school of thought, this could be an area where taking the initiative is also preferred; however, this can also be an opportunity to show employee worth. In a small education-oriented company like this, the paycheck is almost ancillary and if you're here for the paycheck, it's the wrong reason. Compensation is generous and reflective of the employers commitment to employee satisfaction. Make no mistake, there is a high bar for employment and higher expectations for success; however, that success is measured by the growth of those inside the company. The president is firmly committed to the success of the company, as well as the success of its employees. He might struggle to articulate this message at times and often the nimble nature of the organization might frustrate managers responsible for implementing long-term strategies, but regardless of the business decisions he makes, his dedication to his employees is unequivocal.

    Cons

    There is limited mentorship--partially due to the swiftly changing demands of the company--and while it's an asset to allow such flexibility and autonomy in projects, sometimes that can prove frustrating for talents who are struggling to identify future opportunities. More focused individual attention to help crystalize specific short-term and long-term goals might help employees to understand the potential roles within the company or identify new roles.

    Continue reading
    4 people found this review helpful
  10. 5.0
    Current Employee, more than 3 years

    Great Atmosphere

    Oct 15, 2015 - Web Developer in Kirkland, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Has a great, fast-paced, "try new things" ideology baked in. Employees are encouraged to learn new skills and try and take on more responsibility. The amount of ownership of a project is really up to the ambition of each person, if someone really wants to spearhead a particular thing they are given nothing but encouragement and support if and where they need it. Work/life balance is amazing, there are often small impromptu team-building events that make being at work a blast; whether it's everyone deciding to do a group lunch, playing a card game at the end of the day, or hitting up happy hour after work.

    Cons

    It's a small, fast-paced company in a big industry. There are lots of new ideas coming in and not all of them pan out, which can be discouraging at times. And sometimes you get stuck working on one of those ideas you don't like or don't agree with because it's just another that might work, and it has to be tried. The important thing is to remember that in the long run those ideas may just turn into something amazing if given then chance.

    2 people found this review helpful
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