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Sasaki Reviews

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Sasaki Managing Principal James Miner
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8 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    "Working at Sasaki"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Watertown, MA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Watertown, MA
    Doesn't Recommend

    I have been working at Sasaki (More than a year)

    Pros

    The best thing about this practice is great people who work here. It’s a very relaxed and friendliest environment possible. Easy hours and flexible work environment.

    Cons

    While the planning and urban design departments seem to be doing good work and getting international and domestic recognition, architecture is still struggling in terms of quality. A very top heavy firm (around 40 principals on 200 employees) is not finding a common language and unable to have a clear direction of what the firm should be.
    The same top heavy structure reflects on teams. It is a very though working place for mid-level and senior architect (who are not in the project management) with strong design abilities and knowledge of CAD programs. Instead of promoting and supporting this profile, letting them grow and giving more responsibilities, they end up doing all the production work, because “nobody else knows how to do it”. A paradox where people with less knowledge of the profession (technical, creative or production abilities) are put in managerial positions because they “can’t do things”, and the most capable end up being “punished” for that doing all the work (including the one that junior staff should be doing -and learning how to do it).
    It’s an unstructured environment where junior staff aspires to do project management or business development, while some principals are actively building Revit models. Very few people aspire of do design or a better architecture, as being a designer is perceived as the person who is coming in the end of the process to do the heavy production work and embellishments.
    Promotions don’t mean a salary raise nor a yearly bonus increase.


  2. "Project Engineer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Project Engineer in Watertown, MA
    Former Employee - Project Engineer in Watertown, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Sasaki full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    It was really a collaborative environment.

    Worked on exciting projects all over the world.

    The experience gained cannot compare to anything else I have experienced.

    Cons

    Extremely clicky office environment. Office cliques tend to form most in corporate environments with weak management, and at Sasaki I felt this was the case.

    Promotions, project awards, and benefits were awarded to best liked employees/friends and not to most qualified individuals.

    There is a lot of pressure to go above and beyond the line of duty, and it is expected that one shall put in an enormous amount of time and effort into work. It seems that if you put your own family ahead of the company (especially if you're not "in" with the right people), then you will be passed over on future projects (which will put you on the fast-track to a layoff). It was extremely difficult to manage work-life balance for people with children.

    Advice to Management

    Understand that the core values that the founders of this once great company established do not exist anymore. There is quite a bit of nepotism. Showing off gets you more rewarded than a job well done. Even clients have sent letters explaining that your focus is not in the best interests of the clients, but in your personal accolades and awards.


  3. Helpful (10)

    "A Mixed Bag"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Watertown, MA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Watertown, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Sasaki full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    All the perks of the best design firms: In-house lectures, art exhibits, happy hours, you name it.

    Academic-tinted firm with close ties to interesting research going on at Harvard and MIT (which are feeder schools to the firm).

    Many amazing designers, with a number of standout professionals who I'm honored to call my coworkers. The firm’s software development group, “Sasaki Strategies,” is an industry leader.

    Open, casual, and relaxed atmosphere in a restored mill along the Charles River.

    A full range of ages represented, with young people looking to make friends and older folks open to mentoring opportunities (this coming from a younger perspective).

    Cons

    Very high turnover for those under age 30. Few young employees make it past the 2 year mark; work-life balance is a very real problem, as is recognition of contributions from junior level staff.

    Never ending deadlines foster a high stress environment (no overtime pay, nor a comp time policy).

    Very poor staffing and management processes that result in unexpected weekends in the office, overstaffed employees, and under-budgeted projects. Management of the company will always be a pawn to "design" in this office (some think that's good, some do not).

    If you are not a planner/designer, you are a [far] second class citizen. Opportunities for growth and recognition within the Marketing, IT, and Accounting teams are, plain and simple, very poor.

    The executive leadership team is inexperienced (fact) and it shows (opinion). The firm recently went through a leadership overhaul and there have been serious missteps throughout that process, some of which resulted in the departure of folks who many considered to be the firm's best designers. If you are popular with this new leadership group, Sasaki is a great place to be. But if you make waves or speak out, good luck to you.

    Advice to Management

    You have an amazing base of talented professionals capable of great work. Buzzwords like innovation and collaboration aren't going to make them stick around. Focus on actually retaining talent by implementing real management practices and giving people the space to do their best work.


  4. Helpful (7)

    "Sasaki Architecture"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston, MA

    I have been working at Sasaki full-time

    Pros

    Great work-life balance. "Easy" hours. Great working ambiance with little stress.

    Cons

    Proud of being a "horizontal" structure and non-hierarchical, but in reality very top heavy. Employees have to struggle on daily basis to be given opportunities to grow and advance professionally. The firm finds lot of difficulties in creating teams and the leadership is somehow unable to clearly define and communicate roles of each team member.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Landscape Designer, Watertown"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Landscape Designer in Watertown, MA
    Former Employee - Landscape Designer in Watertown, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Sasaki full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Various types of projects going on with good benefits. Many interesting lectures and happy hours.

    Cons

    Unhealthy culture cause talent people left. Poor management and staffing and less communication.

    Advice to Management

    Have more communication with your employee and get them to do their best work.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "A disappointing work experience, largely due to a lack of leadership and poor management."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Landscape Architect in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Landscape Architect in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Good benefits, reasonable salary, some interesting project work, and a respectable level of commitment to quality work products and solid design.

    There are some good, talented people who work here.

    The multidisciplinary environment provides opportunities for better collaboration among the different disciplines.

    Cons

    Very poor, uninspiring leadership and mismanagement that lacks vision and big-picture thinking -- too many knee-jerk reactions and short-term solutions to problems that are systemic within the organization. A lot of micro-managers -- there needs to be a macro-visionary in the landscape architecture group.

    The SF office plays a very secondary role to Watertown, which diminishes the opportunities for the SF office to work on world-class projects, and the environment is overly corporate for an office that is not very big.

    Much of the design work, while competent, lacks imagination and innovation, and input from talented junior staff is too often disregarded.

    A severe lack of transparency regarding business decisions made by the leadership.

    Junior staff often get pigeon-holed very quickly into doing a certain type of work and certain kinds of tasks, which does not yield a solid foundation for professional development.

    Multidisciplinary office lacks interdisciplinary collaboration and is more "silo-ed" than many single-discipline offices.

    Advice to Management

    Management should nurture the talents of the existing staff and promote a meritocracy. Good work and efforts to show initiative often go unrecognized at Sasaki, which is demoralizing. While the company has laid off a number of people because of the economic circumstances, many others have left voluntarily because of such low morale. Management also needs to promote a more collaborative, interdisciplinary environment, and managers in the landscape architecture department need to push for more responsibility and leverage in design conversations by landscape architecture staff rather than relegate the landscape architect's role to providing assistance to the architects and planners.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Sasaki"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Firm has a wide range of projects

    Cons

    Firm doesn't take care of its employees; you're just a number, churning out work making money for the partners


  8. Helpful (1)

    "Following the economy and going downhill fast"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Co-workers are great - for the most part, very talented, bright, fun, interesting people who want to do good work and make a difference in the world

    Cons

    Communication from senior management is laughable - they think they're great at it, but its meaningless white noise. The silence around the continuing layoffs is unsettling, to put it mildly.
    The feeling we get from senior management is that everyone is replaceable; we should all feel lucky to have a job; its the haves versus the have nots.
    Too many principals, and many don't like or respect each other, or want to work together; feels like high school, but at least in HS you have the excuse of being young and immature. So much for the 'collaborative, interdisciplinary' culture!
    Bottom line and utilization rates are all that matter.
    Level of stress in no way equals the 'rewards'
    HR is a joke; not advocates for the staff.
    People tend to show their true colors when the going gets tough, and those colors are not pretty.
    Many of the good people have left or will leave; unfortunately, some useless people remain.
    Too bad - used to be a respectable design firm and a decent place to work.

    Advice to Management

    Get serious management advisor in ASAP, before its too late
    Throw out (almost) everyone at the top and start over


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