Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Reviews | Glassdoor

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Reviews

Updated September 10, 2018
226 reviews

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3.1
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5 Ratings

226 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "Lots of great projects around the World" (in 16 reviews)

  • "very friendly environment and you can learn a lot" (in 7 reviews)

Cons
  • "the usual--long hours, sometimes weekends if there's a deadline, expectations to stay late (but they pay for your dinner or uber home if you do)" (in 40 reviews)

  • "Work life balance was really bad" (in 16 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Architectural Intern"

    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 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time

    Pros

    No overtime for interns!

    Cons

    Sometimes lack of work


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Structural Engineer"

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

    I worked at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    I was able to get my my SE and PE working for SOM. Some really great engineers in the Chicago office. When I started there was a variety of work. I got to do healthcare, some high-rises work, and other big projects. Definitely recommend for entry level engineers.

    Cons

    Work life balance was really bad. In addition most of the work the last few years was towers in China. While the buildings look cool it is very bad for younng engineers and architects as you don't get to do the CA for these projects and construction drawings. In addition, you are not really prepared for the real world once you leave. Most other firms expect you to stamp drawings when you are licensed. You will most likely not be prepared for a position like that when you leave. Finally, it is hard to get to the associate level and higher here. If you don't get to that level within 5 to 6 years I recommend looking elsewhere.

    Advice to Management

    The old school management needs to go. Treat your employees like people, not machines. Finally just don't go for work that goes up to DD. Your young employees will not get the full experience which is vital for them to succeed in their careers.

  3. "Multicultural environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time

    Pros

    Diversity and open minded culture

    Cons

    Independent branches that sometimes make slow intra company processes


  4. "Excellent for everything"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Architect in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Architect in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    They encourage skill development and career advance

    Cons

    Work life balance hardly exists if you want to advance. More work than there are people.

    Advice to Management

    Work life balance


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Militaristic and Disengaged Leadership"

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

    I have been working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Prestigious and world-renowned reputation;
    Uber ride home and $18-limit for dinner (not much in 2018 in a CBD) when working over 10.5 hours/day. PM must approve prior;
    Global scope (work on projects all over the world);
    The SOM process is a highly rigorous and conscientious way to approach design that has been emulated throughout the design industry.

    Cons

    Toxic leadership that micromanages, overworks, underpays, and creates a hostile environment with strong implications for one's mental and physical well-being (I have witnessed regular, emotional breakdowns); Expectations and deliverables are not clearly articulated as leadership is disengaged and unable to lead;
    HR protects leadership at all costs (akin to a tenured professorship);
    No overtime pay for D-Levels and above, even though D-Levels do not make decisions directly related to their staffing;
    regularly told that I am underperforming while working back-to-back 50+ hour weeks;
    expected to be "on call" every weekend without pay;
    small number of people on each team who "carry" low-achieving colleagues and leaders alike;
    challenging to create a career as leadership is very top-light and infrequently transitions/retires (1300 person firm; 21 partners, only 3 of which are women);
    inflexible, archaic management and policies;
    benefits are below the industry standard and very expensive;
    Noted lack of professional respect for minorities, women, and LGBTQ employees;
    no or little professional mentorship and coaching;
    Pettiness between teams and leadership, resulting in lack of communication between stakeholders that falls upon juniors to resolve as PM's are uninvolved;
    Across the board, everyone is stretched too thinly to do their job properly and within a proper standard-of-care; reputation and history of the firm is leveraged to push employees to their limits.

    Advice to Management

    It seems the Partnership and leadership turn a blind eye to many of the aforementioned concerns if deadlines are met, clients are happy, and the Partnership continues to make money; leadership needs to understand that culture comes from the top-down, not that the bottom-up and realign the trajectory of the Firm with its purported values. Sadly, much of the top-talent leaves within 1-3 years as upward mobility is stagnate, those who are high-achieving burnout in less than a year, and thinkers are discouraged from bringing innovative ideas to the table in favor of "deep focus," high-burn production. Lead through respect, not fear.


  6. "Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time

    Pros

    Nice co-workers. Interesting, impactful work. Incredible view of Lake Michigan.

    Cons

    Lots of outdated policies. Internal team conflicts/ unnecessary competition/pettiness throughout office.

    Advice to Management

    Appoint someone to be the elected "CEO" of the firm so there is some clarity in the administration of the firm as a business.


  7. "Junior Architect"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Junior Architect in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Junior Architect in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Have a lot of chances to learn. People works there are really professional and efficient.

    Cons

    A lot of late hours. Hard to get promoted.

  8. "Stable but lack leadership"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL

    I worked at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    SOM is an environment that is forgiving to those who would like to grow their skill sets and can provide a stable career if you are comfortable with the status quo. The company does impressive work and the name is very well recognized.

    Cons

    There is a significant lack of leadership from the top down that creates a very stagnant environment for anyone who is not a designer or architect. There is little accountability and a lot of politics to navigate. No 401k match and the profit sharing is laughable.


  9. "SOM West Coast"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Interesting projects, convenient location, small architecture studios.

    Cons

    Boring, quiet office culture, hierarchy, outdated furniture and thinking in regards to company culture, bathrooms are terrible.


  10. Helpful (2)

    "21st C Corporate slavery"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Architectural Designer in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Architectural Designer in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Unsure... big projects? Not many...

    Cons

    I would give 0.5 stars if I could.

    To the young grads and people with 3-5 years of experience. Don’t do it unless you have to. They’re nothing without us.
    Crazy hours, laughable comp days, rubbish office, absurd deadlines and unfulfilling work.

    Employees are often on one of these two routes:
    1) those who stay for a 1-3 years and slap the brand on their resume
    2) the veterans 5+ years who are making their way up the ladder

    The two halves of technical and design breed people who have no idea how a building gets built.

    Advice to Management

    Treat people like people for a start.


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