Pact (Washington DC) Reviews | Glassdoor

Pact (Washington DC) Reviews

Updated April 27, 2018
80 reviews

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2.2
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Pact (Washington DC) President & CEO Mark Viso
Mark Viso
58 Ratings

80 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Good and professional staff in DC supporting the country offices (in 10 reviews)

  • Great benefits, competitive salary (in 7 reviews)

Cons
  • The DC office is a highly oppressive environment totally under the malign presence of Mark Viso (in 12 reviews)

  • It's NOT conducive to a good work-life balance (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (3)

    "Solid, positive, interesting place"

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

    I have been working at Pact (Washington DC) full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Committed to staff and mission

    Cons

    Like any organization, some bumps


  2. Helpful (7)

    "Think long and hard about Pact.... Research!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Pact (Washington DC) full-time

    Pros

    Pact has one of the best benefits package.
     The country teams are the best and very passionate about their field and program.

    Cons

    If you are interested in Pact, you need to be aware that it is going through a lot of changes right now. There is no clear leadership and direction within the organization.

    Depending on the departments, Pact has employees who are very competitive and not supportive.

    The Pact is very centralized. Country offices don't have enough latitude to be successful.

  3. Helpful (30)

    "I don't hate it, though I'm starting to, but there's much room for improvement"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Pact (Washington DC) full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Pact does some great work and there are a ton of wonderful folks who work for the organization. I'm proud to say I've met a few great friends here. There also seems to be a talent for hiring country office staff. In general, I find that there is SO much talent in the country offices and really wonderful people, too. I actually don't hate Mark V. as much as everyone else does. I think he's basically been relegated to being a figurehead and I think that's fine. It's pretty clear that the COO is generally running the show day to day. I don't have an opinion on that, really. I also don't hate the idea of transformation in the sense that when I got here I saw how flat the organization is and said to myself, this isn't going to work for long. Too many directors, not enough VPs. Transformation is correcting that, and I'm OK with it. This way there's actually more oversight on and attention paid to the teams, rather than the execs being pulled in 20 million directions and losing touch with what's really happening "on the ground". The benefits are a great perk. The pay is pretty good, although there's very little standardization between positions, experience level, and pay grades. Another thing I really like is that because there's so much work to do, if someone isn't pulling their weight they're weeded out really fast. You absolutely cannot hide here and pretend like you're working hard when you're not. That type of accountability is good.

    Cons

    Oh, goodness, where do I begin. A lot of what others have said. Wasted money on so many consulting groups that don't seem to do anything. Major functions like HR outsourced. Let's add to the HR thing the fact that there is no standardization to our job positions, which the HR consultancy was supposed to fix, and that hasn't happened yet. We have no idea what's going on with transformation because we haven't had an all staff meeting in 6 months. At first staff were involved with everything, now we're involved with nothing. I guess the consultants are handling it. In addition, our country offices pay consultants money for basically no reason - to do work that they never actually do and there doesn't seem to be any oversight on that. PD and AM know about at least some of it. I don't blame them for it at all, I blame the holes in accountability with the country offices, who basically do whatever they want (and you think granting them more autonomy under transformation is going to make this better?). Then we either send out shoddy work that angers our donors or someone else has to fix it, usually an HQ staffer, costing us double the money and / or our reputation. Pact is basically hemorrhaging money for no good reason and tanking its reputation in the process.

    Let's talk about culture. You're basically expected to work 60+ hours. And travel with minimal notice (I'm talking a few days). It's NOT conducive to a good work-life balance. Then more work with transformation and the quality sprints are piled on. Thankfully some of the folks with terrible, nasty attitudes have left. But, some still remain. I think a lot of this is on upper management. They're creating a culture of mistrust and people are just scared so they're protecting their egos and livelihoods. There's so much ambiguity, which seems to be par for the course for Pact. I kind of can't blame people for worrying about their positions and visibility in the company. I just wish they would understand that we're all in it together and treating other people poorly and gossiping behind everyone's backs isn't the way to go about fixing things. Overall, there are plenty of super terrible attitudes running around at all levels of employment and these folks need to go. No more making excuses for them. No giving them 2 years of chances with no actual direction on what they need to do to change. Just get rid of them already.

    How do you move up in the organization? I have no idea. I've seen the same people get promoted over and over and they're the people with the least positive contributions to the organization. Meanwhile, the hardest workers with the largest contributions are passed over for years, told that there's no money to compensate them or that no one is getting a promotion this year (I know of a few directors who were told that in multiple departments and clearly that wasn't true). Stop promoting the same people over and over again or the people who you then say are not pulling their weight. It's a total mixed message. Half the people you promote then leave a few months later. Clearly upper management doesn't have an eye for who really is a worthwhile employee. I've asked how to improve so that I can be promoted and I'm told that I'm already doing a great job and everything I'm being asked and going above and beyond. So, tell me, how does one get promoted if I'm already doing the things that you've told me I need to do to get promoted? That doesn't make me want to contribute much anymore.

    Meanwhile, we're understaffed. Disgustingly understaffed. See above comments on hemorrhaging money for no good reason and expectation for working 60+ hours. No wonder we can't hire the staff we really need. Half a mill to Accenture? That's a good few solid staff members we could have hired to help alleviate people's work loads.

    You're shocked I would recommend this place to work at, right. It's because there's actually a lot of potential good here and the work we do is really fulfilling. Plus, it's just as terrible everywhere else, but for different reasons. At Pact, you just need to be good with serious ambiguity and some attitude problems from your colleagues.

    I think I've said enough.

    P.S. Or not. Where are those spot bonuses Mark V. said at the holiday party that we'd be able to give to our colleagues? Are they being funneled instead into yet another consultant company?

    Advice to Management

    Anyone who has been there more than 5 years probably needs to go. That might just be the only way to save the culture. Or, better yet, come down hard on the people who act terribly and stop excusing their behavior or turning a blind eye to it. This starts at the top and includes the bad behavior of all the exec staff. No more pitting your staff against each other, telling one team one thing and another team the exact opposite, making enormous last minute changes to the organization and not notifying the teams that affects before you do it, getting mad at people for doing X when you've yet to outline what the actual expectations for working at Pact are. And, don't give me the whole list of ideal behaviors, or whatever that is. Exec staff don't often follow it themselves. Again, it starts at the top. Be more transparent in your decision-making. Stop piling work on your staff who are already overworked and underpaid for it. I would say listen, but you're already doing that. You're just not implementing ANYTHING that people have suggested to you. You nod your heads and say, that's a great idea, and then do the exact opposite. Meanwhile you have no idea what's the actual problems are. So, why do you keep asking for our opinion then? Just leave us alone and let us do our considerable amount of work and tell us what you've decided to do. Also, abandon designed by Pact. Seriously. Human centered design? We didn't come up with it and quite frankly, no one at our organization really knows what it is, so we're going to look like idiots if we release a "Designed by Pact" methodology that's a whole bunch of other organizations' methodologies that we actually know very little about. We know a lot, we've done a lot, we've created a lot. Why not try marketing that stuff first? Start paying attention to what we're actually doing in the organization and the actual problems that are going on. And, actually fix them. Don't wait for years for people to fix them when they don't even know there's a problem because you keep telling them to keep doing what they're doing, then punish them for not fixing the problems they didn't know about in the first place and act all surprised and offended and call them disloyal when they up and quit because of your actions (or inaction). Enough with the hypocrisy already.


  4. Helpful (2)

    "I enjoy coming to work"

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

    I have been working at Pact (Washington DC) full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The people that work at Pact, are what makes it so great. The employees are passionate and very knowledgeable in their specific areas.

    Since being here the leadership team has also been as transparent as probably possible (this has not been the case in other organizations/NGO's I have worked for). I can honestly say that I enjoy coming to work and find the work very meaningful.

    Cons

    As we are going through transformation some employees are naturally having a hard time adjusting.


  5. Helpful (19)

    "Will do anything for stars"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    I have made some great friends here

    Cons

    The latest positive reviews are obviously fake. That they offer nothing of substance (e.g. how or why) and give no advice to management is the first red flag. That they follow a string of negative reviews (many deleted) and a noticeable drop in company rating is another. One ends by saying bumps are normal and the other that difficulty adjusting is natural. Do you think we are stupid?

    Upper management has already been caught writing and/or encouraging fake reviews and I assumed this would stop after our part time VP left.

    Advice to Management

    Stop being obsessed with your image and actually fix the place. We've already told you what to do.


  6. Helpful (13)

    "Transforming Itself to Irrelevance"

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

    I have been working at Pact (Washington DC) full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    -Some fantastic junior and mid-level people on technical units who are very committed to their work, approachable, and team players.

    -Dedicated junior and mid-level staff. Some of the HQ units have a great environment and culture.

    -Sane work hours compared to others in the international development space (e.g. Save the Chldren, DAI, Tetra Tech ARD, Dexis and others).

    -Some flexibility for working from home / remote work if your manager allows it.

    -Generally interesting work, particularly in the country offices, with some international opportunities available even for junior-level staff depending on the team they support.

    -Above average benefits, including 100% employer-paid health insurance and dental, generous 403(b) contributions, decent sick and annual leave.

    Cons

    -Clueless CEO who was responsible for creating a shockingly toxic work environment. Thankfully no longer involved in day-to-day so most employees can avoid interacting with him.

    -All-male C-suite. Two senior executives have no international development experience and still don’t understand how company works or what staff do.

    -Key decisions made without consulting staff most impacted. Little openness or transparency at any level.

    -Clear that many new positions have no job security.

    -Negligent, out-of-touch board of directors with multiple conflicts of interest.

    -Low-quality, outdated systems and processes. A ton of literal and virtual paper pushing required to get anything done.

    -Poor global management systems mean that country office staff are under-trained, under-resourced, and struggle to achieve consistent results across programs.

    -Clear that CEO and the rest of the leadership team are far out of their depth and fundamentally lack the skills to successfully lead the company through restructuring/transformation.

    Advice to Management

    To the board:

    -Hold yourselves accountable and transparently report on the progress being made (if any) by the various board committees.

    -Hold Pact's leadership accountable to clear performance metrics and make all of this highly visible to employees, funders, and stakeholders. Hire a CEO with the skills to actually lead Pact’s transformation.

    To management:

    -Tap the brakes on "transformation" and focus on getting Pact's house in order. Immediately suspend costly outside consulting contracts, layoff or reassign "transformation" hires to refocus support on core business, and take the time to understand what Pact actually does.

    -Fix the culture. Actually engage employees and deal with offending staff and managers, otherwise we are going to lose the few remaining stellar technical and management staff left who are responsible for the success of Pact's programs.


  7. Helpful (20)

    "Deeply unpleasent"

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

    I worked at Pact (Washington DC) full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Pact does some good work despite being basically a USAID contractor. Flexible working hours in DC. Chance for interesting travel .

    Cons

    The DC office is a highly oppressive environment totally under the malign presence of Mark Viso. There was a good two months when the Board sent him off on a sabbatical to study the wine industry in California (hard to believe but actually true). Otherwise a poisonous environment which I was happy to leave. A true study is malignant leadership.

    Advice to Management

    Hard to understand why you bother. You know Mark wont have you there for very long.

  8. Helpful (19)

    "Just outsource everything at this point"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Pact (Washington DC) full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Open office space - I don’t care what anyone says it’s the most transparent thing about this place
    Exciting travel

    Cons

    Nothing more needs to be said about MV because there’s 50 other reviews that all say he’s horrible and needs to go ASAP. This latest restructure made people cry, threaten to quit, and stay home for days. It tore departments that should remain together apart and put one of them under someone who has no idea what it does and doesn’t care to learn. Some departments have room for professional growth while others have not not seen a promotion in years. Some departments are relatively stable while one in particular falls apart every year. HR has been outsourced and board members work for external companies we have on retainer. Consultants come in and say they’re saving money but they have a profit motive to stay as long as possible and it doesn’t seem to register with the upper management.

    Advice to Management

    If you’re serious about transforming, try working with what you already have.


  9. Helpful (19)

    "lol"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Pact (Washington DC) full-time

    Pros

    Employer-paid benefits
    Some nice people
    Convenient location
    Good purpose, great work
    Sometimes we get free food
    Better than average pay

    Cons

    Yet another reorganization is not going to fix our problems. When this one fails to "transform" anything, there will inevitably be another so the CEO can go to sleep thinking he has accomplished something. He lives in a fantasyland and truly believes selling someone else's patented platform and accounting software will achieve this "revenue neutral" delusion he has somehow managed to sell to the board. At least once a month, he likes to remind everyone he saved the place from debarment (onset of a manic phase). Despite a push to enter the fourth sector and the European development world, Pact is becoming increasingly dependent on USG funding and private partners have run away. Rather than expand and advocate for the three potential profit-making programs we have, he instead creates a new department and then says he thought we were making progress when the head of it leaves the company after eight hours on the job. You can create an ideal work culture on paper but until you address the sexism, backstabbing, low morale, high turnover, competing subcultures and general distrust of upper management, the time spent in this working group would be better used trying to win back the donors we have scared off. That being said, Mark has a gift for public speaking and would make an excellent used car salesman so I don't understand why he isn't out there trying to sell Pact more. I'm eager to see what profit we turn from his sabbatical on a vineyard (spoiler alert: none). Here's a novel idea: rather than chase down every possible source of funding, try developing a couple areas of specialty and then your regional hub idea might have a chance.

    Advice to Management

    trans·for·ma·tion
    ˌtran(t)sfərˈmāSH(ə)n/

    noun
    a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance


  10. Helpful (24)

    "Hard to express"

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

    I worked at Pact (Washington DC) full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Pact has a great office space, some cool people and reasonable financial rewards.

    Cons

    It's really hard to put into words how I feel about Mark Viso, Pact's CEO. I feel my own time there was wasted by his inability to decide on anything at all. At first I thought it was intellectual energy, after time I realized it was insecurity and fear. He hates the idea of anyone getting credit for anything. So all ideas have to play on his domineering ego. He hardly interacts with anyone now, except for his all male exec team. Mark doesn't think gender is an issue, except in a Board meeting. He in reality chairs the board he reports to so there is no accountability in Pact at all. I feel I wasted a few years in Pact not because of the work as such but because of Mark's inability to decide, inability to lead and manipulation. Glad to be out of it. Mark, though, keeps the org in turmoil and he's safe to transform for ever, no one believes it will stop in 2021.

    Advice to Management

    Really?


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