Sargent & Lundy Reviews | Glassdoor

Sargent & Lundy Reviews

Updated December 7, 2017
233 reviews

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3.6
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Sargent & Lundy Chairman, President & CEO Thomas White
Thomas White
73 Ratings

233 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great work/life balance, with every hour over 40 going toward comp time (in 12 reviews)

  • Good benefits and highly competitive salaries (in 19 reviews)

Cons
  • Work Life Balance - If you prove yourself to be successful at your job, you will definitely get stretched at some point in your career (in 10 reviews)

  • The pros at S&L really do outweigh the cons (in 8 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (2)

    "Definitely Happy Working Here!"

    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 Sargent & Lundy full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    I’ve worked at Sargent & Lundy for over 10 years in different positions. They have included travel both domestic and international. I’ve been treated with respect and professionalism by my supervisors and managers. I have found that when I present an idea that is backed by facts and clearly and professionally articulated my supervisors and managers listen and help to implement changes.

    The work here is not for slackers. You’re expected to work hard to meet the client’s expectations including good quality work and meeting deadlines. It does mean working overtime when necessary, but you have a lot of flexibility to use paid vacation and other time off, outside critical due dates.

    Throughout my time with the company, there have been many positive changes. The benefits and compensation are definitely equal to or better than what is offered by other similar firms. Some examples are a generous 401 (K) plan with lots of investment options, paid time off for new parents (including adoptions), and a back-up day care program. They’ve offered HSA plans for several years and contribute to the accounts. Health insurance premiums are really reasonable considering what my friends pay at other firms. For the last few years, we’ve been given a “bonus day off” to use whenever we want.

    The CEO communicates with staff on a regular basis and is definitely approachable. Recently, he announced a new initiative to replace and update the infrastructure software systems/platforms.

    I’m definitely happy working here!

    Cons

    Though engineers do get transfers, the firm could benefit from a formal job movement program that is geared toward professional career development.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "IT Professional"

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

    I have been working at Sargent & Lundy full-time

    Pros

    I have been working for Sargent & Lundy over 5 years as a software developer. The company is very stable and working hours are flexible. There is good support to keep your skills up to date in this fast changing IT ages.

    Cons

    Some projects are slow to move forward.

  3. "Senior Mechanical Engineer 2"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Mechanical Engineer in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Senior Mechanical Engineer in Chicago, IL
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Sargent & Lundy (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    This is a great place to work. Co-workers are helpful with a strong team oriented approach. Pay and benefits are some of the best in the industry.

    Cons

    The only real downside is that it is project based work so it can be unstable when projects run dry.


  4. Helpful (2)

    "Senior Associate 2"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Chicago, IL
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Sargent & Lundy full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Well established, great benefits and pay, wealth of knowledge, good place to learn

    Cons

    Easy to get caught up in discipline silos

    Advice to Management

    Move people through various departments to give them more breadth and knowledge


  5. Helpful (5)

    "Where dementors are born"

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

    I worked at Sargent & Lundy full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Made some good friends, got some good training, pay a PE bonus of $4k after you obtain license. Normal yearly raises (3-5%). Year end bonus of one pay check. Overtime accrual goes towards vacation time. Good family/work life balance.

    Cons

    This place somehow manages to be in one of the greatest cities in the world and still has the ability to suck the soul out of your. This place has zero culture. Very difficult to make friends because the way cubicles are laid out. Many bosses micromanage. Zero opportunity for growth unless you are a tall, white, male AND get lucky.

    Advice to Management

    Stop micromanaging.
    Invest in your own people.
    Trust your younger employees, show confidence in them, don't blast them when they make small mistakes, and RELAX.
    Upper management is too comfortable and has no idea what is going on in the trenches of the company.
    I predict this company will go out of business in the next 10 years unless they branch out into newer territories and stop being so rigid (still using Lotus Notes for pete's sake!)


  6. Helpful (16)

    "Read This"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Engineer in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Senior Engineer in Chicago, IL
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Sargent & Lundy full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    -Great career upside if you are a go-getter and can assume responsibility for numerous projects.

    -The benefits are competitive against the market.

    -Overtime hours are paid for or logged as comp time that can be taken off later.

    -Accessibility. Senior vice presidents are significantly more available than other firms.

    -Location. This is extremely subjective, but if you live in the city of Chicago there are great public transit options to get to the office.

    -Base pay is typically higher than most firms.

    Cons

    -Work Life Balance - If you prove yourself to be successful at your job, you will definitely get stretched at some point in your career. I'm not sure how long that lasts. Maybe forever. There's definitely a weekend crew in the office.

    -Old School. I realize the company is making strides to become more progressive in terms of the business, but there are a lot of antiquated mechanisms that still exist in the company. I detail more of them in the advice management section.

    -Lack of a two way review. There's no mechanism to see how project teams interact with management and it's common for senior management to be blindsided by employees quitting not realizing that the issue is with the manager.

    -High performers aren't always good managers. Although there are is something enticing about an engineering company with engineers at every level of the company, sometimes high performing engineers shouldn't be managers as the skill set isn't the same.

    -Company isn't structured to share resources between owners.

    Advice to Management

    I had to think long and hard about writing this, but I believe I have some items to consider and seeing as someone is responding to the comments I decided to voice my opinion. I work in PDS and realize that's just a slice of the pie for which my experience is just a sliver, but at the very least it's notable. I should note that despite all these things, I still believe in the firm and I want upper management to make strides to correct these issues, which is why I offered suggestions for each one. I didn’t want to risk my identity by PIP-ing this.
    Issues with overall company structure:
    Generally, the company has owners (senior vice presidents) who own relationships with clients. Typically, project managers, engineers, and designers work for a single owner (there are exceptions). It’s common for project teams to have resource issues (wiring reviewer, physical preparer, lead engineer, etc.) and make requests for help. Managers for those disciplines (wiring, physical, electrical, structural etc.) are tasked with moving resources where the needs are. Typically, responses from these managers are not timely or do not provide adequate resources. This mainly stems from the structure itself. Most high performing employees are highly valued by their teams and owners and are not “loaned” out.
    What typically happens to solve resource issues is that motivated individuals take on work beyond their responsibilities and scope to bring the project to completion. While this may be seen as a good thing and I’m very much guilty of doing this consistently, it’s also what burns out engineers as they feel as if they never get the assets to lead them to success.
    Maybe the most alarming thing about the structure is that owners don’t really have any power over their project teams. Although they are responsible for the direct success of their relationships, owners have little to no power to make swift mandates to hire high quality individuals as needed. Whether it’s intended to be this way or not, this is what I’ve experienced.
    I would suggest giving project teams more rights to look for qualified candidates to fill their resource needs. Let teams work directly with HR to head hunt individuals that would be good fits for their team. There is a lot of effort put into the interview process and very little effort put into where new hires are most needed. It’s very common to receive resources that no one was asking for, which creates more work as it becomes troublesome to keep resources productive and truly billable. There was one instance where I pointed out that we hired two new college grads when really what we needed was an experienced physical designer. That essentially blew up budgets because we had to find ways to make inexperienced engineers effective while trying to tackle the physical design on our own. The customer ultimately paid the price in the form of “scope changes”. The obvious solution was to hear the project team’s demand to hire a good physical designer for under the cost of two new grad engineers.
    Physical design & wiring design are unions:
    In many other firms substation engineers are also physical designers and wiring designers. At S&L these are typically individuals who do not have engineering degrees. I’ve been told this is a remnant of Fossil and Nuclear departments. By segmenting these parts of design and limiting the population of individuals who are “qualified” to do that work, scarcity is created not only inside the company, but also when recruiting. I’ve often been told it’s really hard to find good physical designer. This is not surprising as S&L puts unnecessary requirements on who is or isn’t qualified to do that work. The counter argument to this is the billing rates are higher for engineers, but my conjecture is that the economics couldn’t be too bad as competitors do it and they seem to do just fine. The distinctions then seems more union-esque and not actually meaningful.
    Forced expansion and issues with quality:
    This is a more recent occurrence in PDS in the last few years. Above I had mentioned the hire of a couple college grads that the project team was not ready for. This has since increased to a more sizable number. The strategic reason for this is to pre-emptively hire anticipating work based on a hit rate on proposals that are forecasted for the year is generally reasonable... unless you don’t win any sizable bids. This was the case for one of the groups.
    With the large influx of new college grads and the exit of more experienced engineers, the general makeup of S&L’s engineers has gotten more youthful and cheaper. As a consequence of the influx of youth quality has noticeably dipped. The verdict is still out on the long term effect of investing heavily in youth. It may prove to be the favorable decision, but in the short term there are definitely quality issues. My suggestion for this is to keep the youth experiment going without the dip in quality, the company should also strategically hire reviewers that are independent of owners and review against all project teams.
    Poor foresight in industry shifts that lead to layoffs on the generation side extreme inefficiencies in other departments:
    This is another recent development. As nuclear and fossil technologies have curtailed in industry, these arms of our company have also curtailed. In an effort to save jobs (which I think is a good thing) certain individuals were moved into PDS and assumed roles they were underqualified for. While in general I agree with the idea of saving jobs, S&L should have prepared contingency funds to integrate those team members. This is not the first time business has waned in one sector. The effect of bringing in high performing individuals to perform roles they are not ready for is that they are more costly to the project with less production. If there were contingency funds for this type of event costs would not be displaced to the client, which I’m sure they would appreciate. This would also put less pressure on the project teams that are already contending with bringing a large influx of new college grads up to speed.


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Senior Project Associate"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Associate II in Charlotte, NC
    Current Employee - Project Associate II in Charlotte, NC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Sargent & Lundy full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Organised, Quality system, take care of employees

    Cons

    Too big, Small satellite office

    Advice to Management

    None

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Smart and Helpful Coworkers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Electrical Engineer in Chattanooga, TN
    Current Employee - Associate Electrical Engineer in Chattanooga, TN
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Sargent & Lundy full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    As a recent graduate I'm still fairly new to the firm but I feel like I am part of something meaningful. My work environment and colleagues are very enjoyable to work with. I am surrounded by knowledgeable people who are always willing to teach, and are constantly pushing me to learn new ideas and concepts. The company has great starting salaries and benefits, and the interview process was also a very positive experience.

    Cons

    Lots of work that requires you to shift priorities frequently and quickly.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Associate III"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate III in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Associate III in Chicago, IL
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Sargent & Lundy full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The comp time is great. Makes staying late easy since you can bank the time for later. Also allows for plenty of vacation time throughout the year.

    Cons

    Management takes very little interest in what younger engineers prefer to do. There is no process to how you are assigned tasks. You just get whatever your manager needs you to work on.

    Advice to Management

    Ask employees how they are doing. Lots of people seem to "unexpectedly" quit. But if people just asked more, they would see that almost everyone is complaining about being overworked before they switch companies.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Substation Engineer"

    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

    Pros

    -If money is all you are working for this is the place. Good Salary.
    -You get typical benefits as well.
    -Predetermined Bonuses/Raises. No matter how well you perform.

    Cons

    -Managenent care about employees. They will do whatever to keep their jobs safe.
    -No guidance for younger engineers since all the experienced engineers are quiting.

    Advice to Management

    Having 8 new college grads and 2 senior engineer (4 yrs of experience) ain't a structure of a team. Even McDonald's team has a better than this.


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