The Advisory Board Company Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

The Advisory Board Company Washington DC Reviews

30 reviews

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Washington, DC Area

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The Advisory Board Company CEO and Director Robert W. Musslewhite
Robert W. Musslewhite
21 Ratings

30 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Work-life balance is very good, which i highly appreciate (in 118 reviews)

  • Great benefits including 21 days off (in 51 reviews)

Cons
  • Work life balance in the Consulting business does not exist, this is not true of all divisions (in 66 reviews)

  • Pay is well below industry average, at least for entry level roles (in 30 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (26)

    "Muda, Muri, Mura"

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

    I worked at The Advisory Board Company full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    auto flush toilet, sensory water faucets, rotating door entrance

    Cons

    Regurgitated material sold to members con-job, nepotism-oriented promotion cycle, elitist ivy league boys' club, fake kumbaya morals of Career Management, MRS Degree type A minded girls only in it to bag a husband up-talking wenches, sad and tragic technology platform that lacks direction and any so-called expertise, insulting pay, ridiculous review criteria, back-to-back meetings w no time left for work, managers who need to be managed, stuck in a bubble grandfathered-in-gilded-caged inexperienced in real-world business acumen executive team that care only about money

    Advice to Management

    Stop with the self congratulatory bs, learn how to make good decisions


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Healthcare business is winding down"

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

    I worked at The Advisory Board Company full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Paid time-off of 25 days

    Cons

    Too many management layers in the technology front

    Advice to Management

    Try to reduce your management layers. All the healthcare management folks are jumping into higher education business. Failed management in healthcare is moving to pollute the growing business in higher education.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Product Management Analyst"

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

    Pros

    IF your team/manager is good,you could learn and grow here (wasn't so in my case, unfortunately)

    Cons

    My experience working here has been thoroughly negative! I had the worst manager ever, who made my experience working here pathetic! She was highly unprofessional and very critical of my work. She never gave even a single positive feedback! Extremely toxic work culture!
    Even Career Management was useless, they had biased opinions and wouldn't listen to anyone else. All they do is judge people and not give them a single opportunity to learn.

    Advice to Management

    Learn to trust and listen to your employees, rather than basing futile conclusions on one person's opinion.


  4. Helpful (9)

    "Market Research and Account Management"

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

    I worked at The Advisory Board Company full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The perks of working at the Advisory Board Company include:

    -Pretty decent health insurance and maternity leave benefits

    -Benefits that start immediately when you're hired (no 30-day trial or waiting period)

    -A generous amount of time off (20-25 days) at even the most junior levels

    -A lot of free food and other incentives if you work in revenue-generating departments (i.e., Marketing or Account Management)

    Cons

    The most important thing for anyone to understand about working at ABC is that your success in the company is certainly not dependent on your intelligence, work ethic, or dedication. The key to success at the Advisory Board Company is blending in with the crowd. Go to all of the happy hours, laugh at everyone's jokes, do the majority of your work and find good excuses for what you didn't accomplish, and you'll be golden. Put your head down, work your tail off, improve processes, increase revenue for your department, and you might as well quit while you're behind. In a more specific sense, here are what I’d consider to be the most important key points for you to know before accepting a position at the Advisory Board Company:

    -In most cases, the culture of ABC is a fraud. The company likes to boast its involvement in community service projects, “100% participation” they say to the investors and potential clients. What they won’t tell you is that they will count ANYTHING as community service (just bring in a single can of Spaghetti O's and you're a winner!) They also won't boast that those community service efforts are internally incentivized. Departments will have competitions for canned food drives, pro-bono offerings, etc. And the winners don't just get to feel good about doing something for the community. They get a buffet of free food, a day off, etc. Employees are also constantly complaining about the members/clients, laughing at them and discussing ways to manipulate them into a new contract. I once overheard a conversation where the person in charge of purchasing the membership left abruptly after signing the contract, and the person that replaced her never got informed about the membership. My colleagues would joke about how that member was paying for something they never used, and when I suggested telling the member so they could either cancel their membership or start using it to get something out of it, everyone laughed at me and replied, "Why would we do that? It will only lead to us either losing money, or having to do more work." Unfortunately, conversations like that are more common than not.

    -Top management is comprised of people who wouldn't be able to secure a job at the same management level (or probably even several below) at any other company. Almost all of them (especially in the DC office) have gotten to the top purely from being at the company for 15-30 years. And when you incorporate the rapid growth of ABC, it only furthered their quick jump to the top. They lead, but don't listen. They act compassionate, but behind closed doors will jest at anyone who disagrees with them or threatens their intelligence by actually knowing what they're talking about. Because of my past positions, I was a firsthand witness to this on a weekly basis. At one point I was asked to impersonate someone for a credit card company, and refused saying it was illegal and I wouldn’t compromise my morals for anyone, even if it meant losing my job. Another time I was asked to forge a signature on a client contract. Again, denying to do such a thing didn’t win me any promotions.

    -Middle management receives only a few hours of training (about half a day), and that training has no follow-up process to ensure that managers are continuously learning how to help their teams. I've seen one nightmare situation after another where employees leave the firm, because they're in emotionally abusive relationships with their managers.

    -The review process is a semi-annual review cycle that, despite the complaints among a large percent of employees, remains to be more of a degrading process than a helpful one. Each grid is divided into categories, and for 2.5 years I had a review grid with an entire category (20% of the overall grade) that, "didn't apply" to my position. So each review cycle I would receive the grade just above failing for that category. The logic behind it? My managers informed me that they couldn't grade me on something that didn't apply to my role. It didn't matter that I proposed rewriting the review grid (since there was no firm-wide standard for what review grids had to look like). I even came up with a new review grid based on positions similar to mine in other departments in the firm. However, in my entire 2.5 years in that position, it never got changed, so I was never able to get any kind of promotion.

    -Career Management (ABC's version of HR) will lie to you during the hiring process. They did it to me and almost every other associate-level (the most junior level at the company) employee that I spoke to. Almost each job title has a "senior" version that comes with an increase in pay (between $3,000-$5,000 per year). When I was offered my first job at the company and expressed my hesitation to take the position since it only paid $30,000 flat, the CM representative told me that as long as I did my job well, I would get an additional $3k in the first 3 months. Not only did that not happen in my entire 2.5 years in that role, I later discovered that hardly any manager will offer you that "bonus" in the first 6 months, and usually not even within the first year. Despite taking this information to CM on several occasions, when I left the firm in late 2016 this was still happening to new hires.

    -Layoffs are so frequent that finding job security is only easy for those naive enough to think they can't fall victim to the layoffs. Unless you're in top management, you're fair game. I have known employees who came back from maternity leave to have no job. I've known employees who worked for the company for over 6 years and had to leave overnight, at no fault of their own. I've seen every Associate-level employee in two different departments get laid off, while the two leaders of each of those departments got promotions.

    -While the company boasts an amazing work/life balance, and you may be lucky enough to get a manager who tells you to go home at end of business and not work late, that doesn't change your work load. When employees get laid off, fired, go on maternity leave, take 2 weeks of PTO, etc. that work doesn't just disappear; it gets put on your shoulders. Sound reasonable? Almost every employee that took the last Employee Engagement survey at the company last year said that they were overworked. The culture of ABC is so meeting-heavy that most employees will spend the majority of every day in back-to-back meetings, leaving little to no time for actual work. And the percent of meetings that are actually beneficial to the work are so few and far between, that it can drive you up the wall. Thinking about skipping a meeting so you can meet your deadlines and not have to stay late or work on the weekends? Prepare to be hounded for it. After all, misery loves company.

    Advice to Management

    -Start being honest with your clients, your employees, and yourselves (i.e., form the morals you claim to have).

    -Require all managers (from top to bottom) to attend bi-annual managerial training, with one full week of training when they are first hired in a managerial position.

    -Stop rewarding top management with salary increases and trips to the Bahamas in 5-star resorts for them and their families, and increase the salaries of those who actually do the work that has earned the Advisory Board Company the reputation that it has.


  5. Helpful (6)

    "Marketing Associate (EAB)"

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

    I have been working at The Advisory Board Company full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Preferable to homelessness most days.
    That's pretty much it.

    Cons

    I *strongly* recommend that you find another job. I realize the pressure that you feel to find a job out of college but stop, turn around and run like the wind. You don’t want to work here. This review is strictly limited to the education side (EAB) but I don’t recommend working in healthcare easier. Here’s why:

    1)Everything they told you in your college recruitment session or interview is a lie. Every MA I have ever spoken to has admitted they felt misled by recruiting. I’m talking over twenty people.

    2)Your success in this role is based on hitting numbers (that’s it) and your ability to do that is somewhere between 75 and 100 percent based on a pre-determined set of factors that you have no control over whatsoever. In other words, if you are put in a good situation (good territory, good marketer, good manager is an oxymoron because there are none), you will succeed. If you are put in a bad situation, they will let you sink like a stone while simultaneously acting like it’s all down to your lack of skill.

    3)The pay is disgraceful. Let me repeat: if you cannot afford to have mommy and daddy help pay your rent or send you money constantly, this is not the job for you. Almost all of the MAs receive parental assistance just to survive in DC on 38k. Those who don’t struggle and often have to work another job.

    4)Don’t believe for a second that you will see one penny over 38k (BEFORE taxes). Management decides who is put in a position to earn incentives (cheap trips, bagels and coffee oh la la) and who is not. The raise, as other posters have mentioned, bumps you up to 40k and does not take effect for 10 months. They do not back pay you. The raise, the trips, the incentives, the way you are treated are ALL dependent on hitting numbers. They do not take your situation into account when they set those goals and your performance is evaluated on that one thing.

    Some of the numbers are ridiculous and you will not be able to hit them, point blank, period, end of story. If you have a bad marketer, forget even coming close. I have seen good MAs work tirelessly only to be treated like garbage because they can’t hit impossible goals, even IF they are technically more skilled than someone who just lucked into a good situation.

    5)You will get no respect from anyone. I’m not talking about millennial entitlement; I’m talking about human dignity. If you happen to be a minority (non-white), you will get even les. I’ve never said that about anywhere I’ve observed in my life but I’m saying it about EAB. Sad but true.

    6)If you are lucky enough to be designated a “favorite” or a “golden child” you will probably get all the little incentives and what not. But do you really want to roll those dice? Doubtful.

    7)The way that they evaluate you is the only thing equal about this job—everything else is down to your manger or marketer’s interpretation of the rules, meaning some people get away with murder and some people are thrown to the wolves.

    8)The MA culture is incredibly childish. If you do not fit in, some of the other MAs will pick on you and/or spread rumors about you like you’re back in ninth grade. There are some great people here but it only takes a few to ruin your day.

    Cliffs: Horrible pay, petty childish dynamic among MAs that includes lots of lying & back stabbing because everyone is so desperate to hit impractical goals, lack of respect, lack of opportunities to advance. Conclusion: RUN FORREST RUN in the opposite direction.

    Advice to Management

    Working here is not God's gift. If you want to retain good talent you have to be willing to earn it.
    PLEASE stop letting 25 year olds manage 24 year olds. You might as well just admit that you don't take yourselves seriously.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Run! Marketing Associate Role (EAB)"

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

    I have been working at The Advisory Board Company full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    This job is preferable to homelessness most of the time.
    That's about it.

    Cons

    I *seriously* recommend that you find another job. I realize the pressure that you feel to find a job out of college but stop, turn around and run like the wind. You don’t want to work here. This review is strictly limited to the education side (EAB) but I don’t recommend working in healthcare easier. Here’s why:

    1)Everything they told you in your college recruitment session or interview is a lie. Every MA I have ever spoken to has admitted they felt misled by recruiting. I’m talking over twenty people.

    2)Your success in this role is based on hitting numbers (that’s it) and your ability to do that is somewhere between 75 and 100 percent based on a pre-determined set of factors that you have no control over whatsoever. In other words, if you are put in a good situation (good territory, good marketer, good manager is an oxymoron because there are none), you will succeed. If you are put in a bad situation, they will let you sink like a stone while simultaneously acting like it’s all down to your lack of skill.

    3)The pay is disgraceful. Let me repeat: if you cannot afford to have mommy and daddy help pay your rent or send you money constantly, this is not the job for you. Almost all of the MAs receive parental assistance just to survive in DC on 38k. Those who don’t struggle and often have to work another job.

    4)Don’t believe for a second that you will see one penny over 38k (BEFORE taxes). Management decides who is put in a position to earn incentives (cheap trips, bagels and coffee oh la la) and who is not. The raise, as other posters have mentioned, bumps you up to 40k and does not take effect for 10 months. They do not back pay you. The raise, the trips, the incentives, the way you are treated are ALL dependent on hitting numbers. They do not take your situation into account when they set those goals and your performance is evaluated on that one thing.

    Some of the numbers are ridiculous and you will not be able to hit them, point blank, period, end of story. If you have a bad marketer, forget even coming close. I have seen good MAs work tirelessly only to be treated like garbage because they can’t hit impossible goals, even IF they are technically more skilled than someone who just lucked into a good situation.

    5)You will get no respect from anyone. I’m not talking about millennial entitlement; I’m talking about human dignity. If you happen to be a minority (non-white), you will get even less. I’ve never said that about anywhere I’ve observed in my life but I’m saying it about EAB. Sad but true.

    6)If you are lucky enough to be designated a “favorite” or a “golden child” you will probably get all the little incentives and what not. But do you really want to roll those dice? Doubtful.

    7)The way that they evaluate you is the only thing equal about this job—everything else is down to your manger or marketer’s interpretation of the rules, meaning some people get away with murder and some people are thrown to the wolves.

    8)The MA culture is incredibly childish. If you do not fit in, some of the other MAs will pick on you and/or spread rumors about you like you’re back in ninth grade. There are some great people here but it only takes a few to ruin your day.

    Cliffs: Horrible pay, petty childish dynamic among MAs that includes lots of lying & back stabbing because everyone is so desperate to hit impractical goals, lack of respect, lack of opportunities to advance. Conclusion: RUN FORREST RUN..in the opposite direction.

    Advice to Management

    Please stop letting favoritism rule the roost. 25 year olds are not mature enough to be managers and they need way more training than you give them before you unleash them on the staff.


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Marketing Associate role is a real bummer (EAB)"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sales/Marketing Associate in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Sales/Marketing Associate in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at The Advisory Board Company full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The people here are great and I've made great friends since I've joined. The company is great as a whole, but I STRONGLY recommend to not take a Marketing Associate role in either department (education or healthcare).

    Cons

    - Management is inexperienced and spineless. There will be a number placed on your head, and that's the extent that you matter. If you're lucky enough to be placed on a good product with a marketer, you'll be fine. If not, management will NOT stick up for you, and there is no amount of logic or reasoning you can use with your manager because all their responses come from people higher than them.

    - The goals are unrealistic. The EAB side is in a growth phase and has to respond to investors, so there's a lot of pressure being put on the marketing team, and management just puts all the unrealistic expectations on the managers/marketing associates. Management rules by fear and use terms like "development plan" and "focus plan" to formally punish bad performance (which is based mostly on luck in the first place).

    - There's a sort of "culture" that you must assimilate as managers tend to pick favorites. If you rock the boat by any means, managers will do everything in their power to make your life difficult.

    - The pay is absolutely terrible. The salary is $38K (before taxes) and there is no commission. They will try to sell you on "culture" and "incentives" but don't expect anything more than $38K. The incentive trip that is high marketed during recruiting is not likely because of the goals, and not everyone is qualified for the trips depending on start dates.

    - You'll be reporting to two people (marketer and manager) both by who are probably 1-2yrs older than you. They have no management experience, and often abuse their newly-found power with a passive-aggressive and condescending tone. The marketer role is your direct boss who will be doing the actual selling - therefore their success is reliant on yours. The manager role is your in-house boss and are mostly useless and serve mostly to micro-manage or triage commands from upper management.

    - There is extremely high turnover due to lack of positions available for growth (don't be fooled by the "career-pathing" conversations during recruiting) and most people end up leaving for better, higher-paying jobs. ABC ends up paying to train top-talent and they leave because there's no room for internal transitions.

    Advice to Management

    - EAB needs new management. Stop ruling by fear and LISTEN to the people you oversee rather than punishing them for not hitting numbers.

    - Pay more, or people will continue to leave

    - Change your performance review structures, especially for EAB. The market is becoming saturated, the department is growing, and goals are increasing.

    - Don't treat your employees like they're expendable. It doesn't take a genius to do this job, but it also doesn't take a genius to know when they're being treated unfairly.

    - Stop with the high school culture. Favoritism shouldn't be a thing in a corporate environment. Also, don't preach professionalism while simultaneously being unprofessional.

  8. Helpful (15)

    "Marketing Associate role is HORRIBLE"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sales and Marketing Associate in Arlington, VA
    Current Employee - Sales and Marketing Associate in Arlington, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at The Advisory Board Company (More than a year)

    Pros

    The benefits (excluding pay), and I've made some good friends.

    Cons

    Where do I begin...I STRONGLY advise you to think very hard before accepting this position, especially in EAB. Management in the department will use fear and intimidation to try to "motivate" you to hit impossible goals. I also would like to mention that on the EAB side they messed up and hired about 20 too many MAs, and are now, as one person in management calls it, "phasing out" positions (aka trying to come up with creative ways to fire people without legal ramifications). The morale as an associate in this department is EXTREMELY LOW.

    Have I cried in the office? Yes, many times, and I am not the only one. I've worked my fair share of overtime (unpaid) because that is how much I did not want to let anyone down, but after months of getting yelled at I finally couldn't take it anymore. Additionally, the market is now extremely saturated, and unless you're lucky to be put on one of a few successful products, you will not be able to hit your goals.

    Also, the pay is 38k. Too low to pay rent, and the "promotion" is a $3k raise that you will not see until 10 months in. Opportunity to advance is also almost nonexistent given their limited openings.

    Advice to Management

    You need new management. Fear and intimidation is not motivating. Eventually, the people who do the most important work in the company (the MAs), will get fed up and leave. I've already seen a significant difference in the quality of new talent across just 6 months. If you pay nothing, you will not get high quality employees that want to stay with the company (I am leaving for a higher paying job).


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Best place to work in Mohave desert maybe"

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

    I have been working at The Advisory Board Company full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Compensation that is second to McDonald and TacoBell
    Never have to worry about promotion because it's just not there
    Very casual, I doubt people would have money to buy professional looking clothes due to extremely low salary

    Cons

    Intelligence is no where to be seen but incompetent Senior Management with a lot of talk
    Turn over rate is faster than the Moon revolves around earth
    Entry level is more like high-school hire, compensation wise, and level of responsibility wise

    Advice to Management

    If you think the Subscription model works, other consulting firms would have done it. Being innovative means to figure out what works and adjust your strategy to it, not to come up with something none's doing and call it an innovation.


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Run!"

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

    I worked at The Advisory Board Company full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Very good research and technology products.

    Cons

    Horrible atmosphere of fear and intimidation in Marketing management team. They treat their employees as though they can't possibly think on their own. Their way or the highway. almost cult-like and creepy! Churn and burn organization.

    Advice to Management

    Don't hire outside the organization if you have no interest in new ideas. Open your doors and eyes to new ways of doing things.


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