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Vulcan Reviews

Updated January 15, 2018
88 reviews

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3.3
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Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf
Bill Hilf
15 Ratings

88 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • The diversity of projects means never a dull moment, and there is a philanthropic and impact-driven bent to almost everything (in 6 reviews)

  • Good benefits and small turnover rate (in 10 reviews)

Cons
  • Some areas seem to have better work/life balance than others - but such is the risk with such a diverse organization working on such different projects (in 11 reviews)

  • Upper management plays favorites (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (1)

    "Amazing experiences faced paced"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Technology
    Former Employee - Technology
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The people are amazing. You'll find yourself sitting next to a rocket scientist or a movie producer and realize that you work at the same company. There's always an interesting project to work on.

    Cons

    You sometimes don't have enough time or people to get things done. I feel like management underestimates how much time it takes to finish a project. I only left because of personal reasons not because of the job.

    Advice to Management

    Some of the new exec team members seem to be really interested in making Vulcan better. Don't lose site of that.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Finance"

    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 Vulcan full-time

    Pros

    Great company culture, a lot of opportunities to work on diverse projects, good benefits, strong leadership team.

    Cons

    Salary is not as competitive as other large companies in the area

    Advice to Management

    Continue approving communication across teams

  3. "Lots to love"

    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 Vulcan full-time

    Pros

    Good pay and benefits, passionate people, incredibly rewarding work

    Cons

    Some mid level managers and directors are extremely cliqueish. Many have come from industries or companies where cut-throat techniques were the norm, and we don't need that at Vulcan.
    Being an abusive jerk might get you somewhere at Blue Origin or Microsoft or Space X, but it has absolutely no place at Vulcan. If you can't leave your ego at the door, go work somewhere else.

    Advice to Management

    There are some good people at the top and botttom of this company, you need to look hard at your directors and managers. When a team is filled with the friends and acquaintences of the director/manager from their prior jobs, you're building a small Microsoft or Amazon or Blue Origin team, not a Vulcan team.


  4. Helpful (4)

    "The Illusion of Work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Senior Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    As a software engineer, I was afforded the opportunity to learn in several new fields.
    Salary was slightly above average.

    Cons

    Abysmal morale. Engineers are rarely promoted or encouraged to self-organize. The manager to engineer ratio is incredibly large.

    Management is constantly churning and the new managers are brought in from the outside, never promoted up from within. Groups working in niche fields built up capabilities only to have their efforts redirected by whoever the latest manager was who had no domain expertise. Managers were brought in based on their credentials at the biggest tech companies but the strategies they learned there were inappropriate to the size, scope, and audience of Vulcan projects. Imagine a 2 person 6 month research project. Now bring in 3 managers who insist on making the prototype 'enterprise grade', halting progress. Be sure to berate the engineers on their way out. Projects managers focus more on reporting progress than progressing. I've never been at an organization which spends the amount of effort this one does to tell employees how great it is to work there. I wish I left sooner.

    Vulcan Response

    Jan 22, 2018 – Vulcan

    Thank you for your feedback on your experience and your advice.


  5. Helpful (4)

    "Lives up to its local reputation"

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

    I have been working at Vulcan full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Vulcan is several orgs in one. It seems to be a good place to work if you work in operations (e.g. shipping, reception), admin support, divisions where there’s a clear profit motive (e.g. real estate, investment), and divisions run by executives who enjoy favor with the owner (currently government affairs, productions). I’ve gotten mixed signals about Aerospace.

    There is a collegial peer-to-peer culture at the professional and admin levels. People across the organization are willing to help you, even if they don’t know you well.

    The company has some fun perks, like free movie nights and generous Friday happy hours. Halloween is a lot fun.

    Cons

    Vulcan is an impossible place work if you work in areas that are subject to the whims of the owner (e.g. technology, philanthropy, productions) or divisions run by executives who have fallen out of favor with the owner (e.g. philanthropy, which turns over managers at the rate of about one per year).

    It's hard to convey to outsiders how chaotically and arbitrarily Vulcan is managed, and how permanent and unfixable that situation is. It helps to keep in mind that the company is really a multi-faceted personal services firm built around the interests of its owner, who is famously self-indulgent, unfocused and inscrutable. Executives live or die by their ability to discern and satisfy his wants, a skill that few master and fewer sustain for more than a few years. Professional staff live or die by their ability to help their executives satisfy those wants. “We serve at the pleasure of [the owner]” is an often-repeated office adage.

    There is much frustrated talent inside the company.

    Advice to Management

    For current management: Seek more diverse managers and staff. (Vulcan is nearly all white at all levels.)

    For prospective managerial and professional hires: Research the family and company history very carefully, talk to former employees (current ones will equivocate) and, if you still decide to accept an offer, engage a labor attorney to help you negotiate terms, including severance, before signing on.

    Vulcan Response

    Jan 22, 2018 – Vulcan

    Thank you for your feedback on your experience and your advice.


  6. "Director"

    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 Vulcan full-time

    Pros

    I have never worked with the diversity of projects/industries that I have encountered at Vulcan. The experience has been invaluable to my professional development. Executive leadership is invested in providing communications and tools to support the employee/teams towards productivity. While some of the nuances need to be refined, the direction is on target.

    Cons

    If you like defined problems and a narrow swim lane of work, this is not the place for you.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the recent focus to improve communication and tools for the organization.


  7. Helpful (11)

    "A Paradox"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Vulcan full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    * Vulcan pays well, relative to other employers in similar locations, for similar job requirements.
    * Office facilities at the main location are modern and well maintained.
    * Many of the people working at Vulcan are highly intelligent and very skilled.

    Cons

    * Vulcan is in a crisis of management. Many of the people who are in positions to manage people, should not be those positions. There is a culture of managerial hubris and authoritarianism. People who are experts in their field are not fully leveraged because their managers are incompetent, paranoid, and petty. Of course this a generalization. There are some people who are excellent managers; however, these people eventually leave the company.
    * Vulcan is desperately trying to transform into a sophisticated organization, but they are making the mistake of doing so by adopting trendy fads that are already on the downside of the adoption curve because they have already been disproved by more agile organizations.
    * Decision makers are highly influenced by group-think. Instead of performing common-sense analysis to identify problems and then brainstorming possible solutions, managers tend to rely on fashionable software or trendy methodologies, hoping that either will propel Vulcan to the next level of greatness. I am reminded of the Star Trek TNG episode where the unsophisticated Pakleds kidnap Chief Engineer Geordi LeForge in the hopes that recruiting a smart guy will somehow make them "strong". Hey, we are talking about Vulcan here, I think a Star Trek reference is entirely appropriate.
    * Lastly, Vulcan is a case study in inequality and elitist thinking. At Vulcan, it's all about who you know. The disparity between any particular department is striking. Some departments can write their own checks, figuratively and literally. That means some departments tend to get the lions share of perks, staffing, hardware, shindigs, etc. Conversely, some departments operate on shoestring budgets, and anorexic staffing levels. Related to this is a pervasive hierarchical mindset. Many people are difficult to work with because they feel that others are beneath them. This manifests as unanswered emails and phone calls, or in disrespectful, and sometimes an angry demeanor. This is something that happens in any company, but it seems to be particularly pervasive at Vulcan.

    I have to say that this culture has been around for many, many years. I do not believe Bill Hilf has been around long enough to see how his changes are working just yet.

    Advice to Management

    * Open your eyes. The best people are leaving for a reason. It's not because they want to spend more time with their families. It's because of weak, and sometimes neurotic management, deep politics, and a lack of introspection by executives.
    * Ditch the Gartner Group-think. Match appropriate solutions to real problems; do not just adopt the latest fad you heard at the Gartner conference.

    Vulcan Response

    Nov 3, 2017 – Sr Digital Media Manager

    Thank you for your feedback on your experience and your advice.

  8. Helpful (8)

    "Work here at your own peril!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Manager in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Manager in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Clearly good at getting people to write “fake” positive review so they’re at least capable of that. Free movies and sporting events but that doesn’t make up for a toxic work environment.

    Cons

    The whole place is a con — about what is done, impact of the work, and how employees are treated.

    Advice to Management

    Stop drinking your own koolaid , you can fool some people some of the time but not all people all of the time.

    Vulcan Response

    Nov 3, 2017 – Sr Digital Media Manager

    We appreciate you taking the time to post about your experience.


  9. Helpful (8)

    "SEATTLE AVIATION"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Vulcan full-time

    Pros

    The best thing about this place to work is the compensation package. I was paid very well and had a great 401K match and terrific health benefits.

    Cons

    Too many to list here. Management treats employees with complete and utter disrespect. The job I signed up for was not the one that existed when I arrived. It was a complete bait and switch just to get an employee....they are so desperate for employees that they sign you up with bogus promises and make you sign a commitment contract. Once you have signed your life away for a specific time frame (it varies on a case by case basis), then they have you and treat you as they wish. It is so bad there that the best thing I could say is RUN.

    Advice to Management

    The management in the flight department ALL needs to be replaced. It is the most abusive, disrespectful atmosphere one can possible imagine. Until that is done, the turnover will be high...as always.

    Vulcan Response

    Nov 3, 2017 – Sr Digital Media Manager

    We appreciate you taking the time to post about your experience.


  10. "Good Company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Human Resources
    Former Employee - Human Resources
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Vulcan full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Profit sharing and matching 401k

    Cons

    Need to allow a better work life balance

    Advice to Management

    Increase ability of employees for Work life balance


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