Southwest Research Institute Reviews | Glassdoor

Southwest Research Institute Reviews

Updated October 12, 2017
130 reviews

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3.5
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Adam Hamilton
33 Ratings

130 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Excellent staff, friendly co-workers, interesting projects, and great benefits (in 15 reviews)

  • If you stand up for yourself, it is possible to have a good work-life balance (in 8 reviews)

Cons
  • It's hot and humid in San Antonio (in 7 reviews)

  • Projects are constantly oversold and under estimated leading to a horrible work life balance if one takes pride in their work (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Excellent"

    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 Southwest Research Institute part-time

    Pros

    Excellent staff, friendly co-workers, interesting projects, and great benefits.

    Cons

    None so far, other than its location.


  2. "Career advancement based on defined education"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Principal Technician in San Antonio, TX
    Current Employee - Principal Technician in San Antonio, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Southwest Research Institute full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great benefits. Easy-going and comfortable place to work. Somewhat flexible schedules. Occasional overtime. Tuition reimbursement. Good place to start your career.

    Cons

    Cons vary based on division. Where I work the engineers reign supreme. Chemistry (my area) is seen as support and often unappreciated. Annual increases are based on division finances. Last few years have been very slim. Pay is on lower end of the scale. No bonuses. Even if you have a degree you will stay in the technical level unless your degree is specific. Example: Let's say you want to work in the Chemistry division. You have lab experience and you have a biology degree, you will most likely not be hired. Instead someone with no experience, but a chemistry degree will be hired over you. Isn't that swell?

    Advice to Management

    Technicians keep the doors open. Although management is responsible for bringing in projects, they do not operate the instruments and equipment that are vital for research and development.

  3. "Administrative position"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Secretary in San Antonio, TX
    Current Employee - Secretary in San Antonio, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Southwest Research Institute full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Benefits are great. Corporate culture is wonderful. Coworkers are very pleasant, people stay at the company forever. If Engineering and Research is your life this is for you.

    Cons

    Leaving the administration career ladder is almost impossible. The secretarial staff is extremely protective of their work. It's a non-profit which means if you're looking for big money, fahgetaboutit.


  4. "Very Good Organization"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Cost Analyst in Pine Bluff, AR
    Former Employee - Cost Analyst in Pine Bluff, AR
    Recommends

    I worked at Southwest Research Institute full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Opportunity for promotions are available; Hard work is rewarded with pay raises; Management is available to listen to concerns

    Cons

    No major issues with SwRI.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Absolute worst."

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

    I worked at Southwest Research Institute full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Sometimes you got to work on cool projects.

    Cons

    Management and human resources is a complete joke. Contributing to the advancements in human spaceflight and instrumentation is a job in which requires a lot more than what SwRI has to offer.

    Advice to Management

    How about you actually listen to what your employees have to say regarding the amount of ridiculous ethics infractions your company poses.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Good and bad"

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

    I have been working at Southwest Research Institute full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    lots of different people and projects

    Cons

    some people carry huge work loads while others coast. If you're capable and adaptable expect everyone to need something from you. I end up pecking at my work and never really feeling like I get anywhere.

    Advice to Management

    It is tiring to hear the Institute is doing poorly monetarily and can't justify hiring more people when there new hires constantly. Invest in engineers AND technicians. Engineers shouldn't be doing grunt work. More work and not enough quality techs.


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Mediocre Work for Poor Pay with Few Incentives and Lacking Safety"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Engineer in San Antonio, TX
    Former Employee - Research Engineer in San Antonio, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Southwest Research Institute full-time

    Pros

    + Occasionally, a really cool project will come through that offers unique engineering challenges.
    + If you stand up for yourself, it is possible to have a good work-life balance.
    + Facilities (gym, credit union, etc) on campus are nice.
    + If you are willing to stay there, promotions and raises are almost guaranteed at fixed intervals, as long as you make very basic performance goals.

    Cons

    - Promotions are entirely based on "time in the seat", creating no differentiation between top and bottom performers. This creates a self-selecting environment that drives out the hardest workers and retains those who are fine with "coasting".
    - Pay starts low and grows slowly, regardless of performance. You must fight for good pay when you're hired.
    - Safety culture is reactive and generally "all talk and no action". In less than five years, there was one death and several severe near-misses, all of which could have been prevented by safety measures that are industry standard. There is minimal follow through and no enforcement of basic safety requirements (safety glasses, tie-offs at heights, etc).
    - These issues are partially driven by a culture that drives everyone to stress about the financials of every project: If a project starts to run behind or over-budget, everyone from technicians to project managers are incentivized to cut corners in any way that will meet the project requirements, including safety measures.
    - The culture also drives different divisions to compete against each other, instead of working collaboratively (as it is sold in the recruiting process). The financial structure makes it more beneficial for managers to steal work from each other than to recruit expertise from other divisions.
    - Management is recruited from engineers, who are not trained for managing personnel, leading to rampant interpersonal conflicts and toxic personalities across all levels.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in improving management to improve conflict resolution and ability to manage toxic personalities. Create incentives for top performers: It is demoralizing to see bottom performers receive promotions before top performers simply because they have been in the job longer. Finally, change the safety culture from reactive to proactive. This could be addressed by addressing the culture of valuing project underruns above all else.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Great if you get lucky with what division you work for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Engineer in San Antonio, TX
    Former Employee - Research Engineer in San Antonio, TX
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Southwest Research Institute full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Usually a wide variety of things to work on.

    Cons

    Everyone is expected to bring in work and be a salesman, even if that's not your best attribute. Depending on your management and your division, it can be hard to look to the future and get new and exciting new work.

    Advice to Management

    Look to the future and quit just regurgitating the past.


  9. Helpful (4)

    "research engineering"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Staff Engineer in San Antonio, TX
    Former Employee - Staff Engineer in San Antonio, TX
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Southwest Research Institute full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Allows freedom in research direction

    Cons

    Engineers are continuously responsible for winning unreasonably large levels of annual funding to support an overburdening management and overhead structure. Engineers are responsible for entire project load: promotion, proposal writing, project management, spending management and billing, technical direction/success, customer service, publications, reports and client interaction. The workload is tremendous, and culture is non-rewarding, fault finding and toxic.


  10. "Lots of opportunity to develop a satisfying career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Staff Engineer in San Antonio, TX
    Current Employee - Staff Engineer in San Antonio, TX
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Southwest Research Institute full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    There is wide latitude for the staff to pursue interesting research and to develop new technology. Overall the company works hard to take care of the staff and to provide a good place to work.

    Cons

    There is no profit sharing bonus opportunity, so for areas where there are comparable industry jobs you can probably get higher total compensation elsewhere. There tends to be quite a lot of travel required as you progress in your career; this can be good or bad depending on your situation.


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