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Vulcan

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Vulcan

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Vulcan Employee Reviews about "vulcan"

Updated Aug 4, 2021

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Found 20 of over 154 reviews

3.3
45%
Recommend to a Friend
77%
Approve of CEO
Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf
Bill Hilf
47 Ratings

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a 

Technical Account Manager

Being a woman in tech, I only recently started advocating for myself at work about advancement opportunities. Because of this I wanted to ask this question to my male counterparts. When you have 1:1's with your direct reports and talk about career growth / aspirations what is your managers’ response typically? I’d like to gauge how my experience (negative) differs from others. For instance are you met with blockades, enthusiasm, dread, etc?

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Top Review Highlights by Sentiment

Pros
  • "The benefits are good and the 401k match is great.(in 26 reviews)
  • "In spite of this culture that is still trying to define itself and work itself out, for the most part the people here are brilliant, passionate, and committed people who truly want to do inspiring and impactful work.(in 9 reviews)
  • "They pay a good salary.(in 7 reviews)
  • "Great benefits, competitive salary, interesting work(in 6 reviews)
  • "1. Intelligent colleagues.(in 6 reviews)
Cons
Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.

Reviews about "vulcan"

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  1. 5.0
    Former Employee

    Loved working at Vulcan

    Aug 17, 2020 - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Small team dynamics, ability to work across disciplines to tackle some of the world's biggest problems.

    Cons

    Vulcan has had some growing pains after Paul passed, and is figuring out what the direction of the company will look like in the coming years. Any new job opportunity found at the company should have lots of growth potential.

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    Vulcan Response

    Thanks, we appreciate your feedback.

  2. 4.0
    Current Employee, more than 5 years

    Lots of change

    Aug 4, 2021 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    If you like change and doing something different every day, it's a great place to work. I feel like I am helping to make a positive difference in the world with what I do, and I love the people I work with.

    Cons

    Vulcan is evolving into its future form as dictated by Paul's estate plan. Job security right now is questionable.

    1 person found this review helpful
  3. 1.0
    Former Employee, more than 5 years

    Toxic sinking ship...

    Oct 6, 2020 - Senior Manager in Seattle, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Smart colleagues who share their expertise and knowledge. Great medical benefits. Amazing philanthropic products.

    Cons

    Vague mission with no clear path in sight. Vulcan has become an extremely toxic environment in some departments. Don’t speak up with a differing idea or opinion than some leaders or be ready to leave. It’s counter to the lip service the org gives around strength in diversity of ideas. Promotions and opportunities are rarely based on merit but rather on favoritism and what you can do for your leader’s bonus. Inequities of workload vs title/level- not everyone is held accountable and to the same standard.

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    5 people found this review helpful
  4. 5.0
    Former Employee

    Great Place to Work

    Jun 9, 2020 - Dispatcher 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Working at Vulcan was nothing short of a great experience. Terrific coworkers, management, and room for growth.

    Cons

    There were no cons working at Vulcan.

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  5. 3.0
    Former Employee, more than 5 years

    You And Me Could Write a Bad Bromance

    Feb 5, 2019 - Senior Product Manager in Seattle, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. When people were interested in coming to work at Vulcan I told them, “It’s cool because you work on crazy stuff. It’s awful because you get to work on crazy stuff.” I worked on some crazy stuff. Drones and VR and machine learning. It’s a tech playground. It was great for my career to dabble in cutting edge technology. It makes people notice my resume. It forced me to think outside the box. I am grateful for my time at Vulcan.

    Cons

    I’m also very happy to have left. Vulcan lacks paying customers. Without that simple but powerful force, it is hard to keep a company pointed toward true north. In my five years in the tech department, it had about three name changes and 4-6 leadership changes. With each regime change I would feel a new sense of hope. “This guy (note: always a guy) seems like he understands business. He’s not just interested in creating a wacky invention, but he wants to make products for actual human beings.” Inevitably, users would fall to the wayside and we would ultimately build something for a white guy sitting in an ivory tower. While Mr. Allen had good intentions and creative ideas, he often wanted a cutting edge engineering solution to a big humanitarian problem. The non-engineering solutions were too dull. But the engineering solutions were often out of touch. One thing was consistent: the worker bees were passionate about making something amazing and functional. Similar to Mr. Allen, they wanted to make a big impact in people’s’ lives. They researched ways to make science fiction come to life. They are smart, kind, creative, sharing people. However, the people who get promoted spout empty promises. They strut in like Donald Trump, fabricating business models and customer needs. In some ways, it's hard to fault these leaders. When there is no business, then lying with flourish is the best way to personally survive. If they can’t be successful by making a sale, then success has to come from a bloated sense of self worth. In the last regime change, things have gone slightly differently. The customer we designed for was no longer Paul Allen but instead a nonexistent customer who wants futuristic products at a reasonable price. In trying to productize Paul’s ideas, they are taking something developed in a lab and trying to make it a commodity, underfunding any R&D that would maintain differentiation. Leadership isn’t taking a strong stance in any direction: - If it truly wanted to build products, it would expand the team size to function comparably to a competitor. Right now, teams of 2-10 people are trying to create a full scale business. - If it wanted to operate as a tech transfer office, it would partner with major companies. Instead, it keeps its tech development under wraps. - If it wanted to be a Google X, it would focus on R&D and build truly futuristic product prototypes and not worry about making a sale. Vulcan doesn’t know what it is. It never has. It always sat in a technological purgatory, partially because I don’t think Mr. Allen cared enough to commercialize. Without Paul Allen, it loses a leader that had a sci-fi imagination. That might be a good thing since his ideas never touched the ground. It might be a bad thing because there are no longer any ideas. Right now, it is trying to commoditize futuristic ideas for an imaginary customer. Best of luck.

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    40 people found this review helpful

    Vulcan Response

    Vulcan

    Thank you for your feedback

  6. 2.0
    Former Employee, more than 10 years

    Good in theory, terrible in execution

    Jul 29, 2018 - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Vulcan has many intelligent and competent employees. The downtown office location has stunning views of Seattle. I never get tired of the views! Benefits are pretty good, although the medical plans have been scaled back recently. The only plans available now are the consumer-driven HSA plans. Unique perks, such as movie night at the Cinerama. Vulcan has excellent party planners. Vulcan hosts a lot of employee parties, and they are very well done. Lastly, Vulcan has a Coke Freestyle machine that dispenses a wide variety of beverages. It is the highlight of working at Vulcan!

    Cons

    The culture at Vulcan is its chief con. The general culture is elitist and authoritarian, which is sadly ironic because Vulcan is desperately trying to brand itself as free-thinking, egalitarian, and collaborative. Unfortunately, it is largely the opposite. There is a very deep and rigid hierarchy at Vulcan. Executive management lives in fear of getting berated by the owner. That fear then gets passed down through all levels of management and then saturates the rank and file. Consequently, much of what the workers do is support their direct manager in preparing them to have a good story to tell when they get called out publicly by their own manager. So instead of doing what is best for Vulcan, employees often do what is best for their manager’s survival or career aspirations. Communication at Vulcan is very unidirectional; namely top-down. Do not expect to have healthy debate with your manager and see your feedback make its way up the reporting chain. You are essentially told what you need to deliver, when to deliver it, and to refrain from asking challenging questions. So essentially, creative thinking, reasonable discussion, and intelligent debate are informally suppressed in this culture. Vulcan tries hard to market itself as a flat, collaborative, startup-like environment, but it tries to achieve that aim through superficial means, such as redesigning the technology department's workspace by eliminating all offices. So if you work in technology, you work in a big room with small cubes, no privacy, lots of noise, and no place to store work related items. In other words, Vulcan has recently jumped onto the “open office” bandwagon. Much of what I say here is based on my perspective of having worked in technology for many years. There are some departments that are quite different. Some departments wield a lot of influence, and consequently, enjoy privileges not available to other departments. If you hire on to one of these departments, your experience may be a positive one. But it is this disparity among departments that is one of the greatest weaknesses about Vulcan culture. It is highly political, and who you know, or who you are, rather than what you do, that largely determines your experience at Vulcan. Cronyism, unfortunately, is a big part of work life there. Many employees in key positions are not reluctant to dole out special favors for their friends or their subordinates. This, I feel, damages the integrity of the organization. As I mentioned, Vulcan desperately wants to be like a startup. I have worked in Silicon Valley at a startup, and Vulcan is the antithesis of the startup culture. A startup company has a flat managerial hierarchy where there is a strong sense of shared purpose (and sacrifice). In contrast, Vulcan has an extremely high manager to employee ratio. That in itself is not necessarily a problem, but there are so many managers who are unwilling to perform work that they feel is beneath them. Many managers will not even schedule their own meetings or perform their administrative, and even managerial tasks. They have their administrative assistants do that work. This is why the low-rung workers are consistently overworked. There are lots of people with ideas, some of which are good, though mostly absurd, and not enough people to actually execute the work. Also different from the typical startup is the way that they treat I.T. employees. In a typical small technology company, the technologists are highly valued and their treatment reflects that attitude. At Vulcan, you are treated as a drain on cash. And because Vulcan does not generate much, if any revenues from technology, the tech workers essentially ARE a drain on cash. I.T. is treated as a necessary evil, so to speak. If you are looking for a technical position, just keep that in mind. You will likely be paid competitively, but do not expect a lot of respect from Vulcan management. Because of this general attitude by management, you can sometimes expect similar treatment from your internal customers. And do not expect your managers to back you when you need their support. As some other reviewers have mentioned, HR is not your advocate. Their primary objective is to keep the owner from getting angry. Secondarily, they strive to keep the C-level managers happy. At least this is the feeling that many people have. If you consult HR with a problem, their first thought is to protect the owner and the company, not the employee. Another reviewer recommended that you should hire a labor attorney if you accept a job offer. Unfortunately, I fully agree. That is all I can legally say on that topic. My advice to people contemplating employment at Vulcan. If you work in technology and you are sufficiently marketable, don’t waste a year or two testing the waters at Vulcan. You will likely be disappointed with the way you will be treated, relative to the other departments and companies. If you are desperate for employment, then take the job offer and “suck it up” like many of us here are asked to do. If you are not in technology, give Vulcan a try. You may end up in one of the premier departments and have a good experience. And one last “con”, in addition to the political culture. Telecommuting is not allowed, unfortunately.

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    25 people found this review helpful
  7. 5.0
    Current Employee, more than 5 years

    Never a Dull Moment

    Jun 8, 2018 - Anonymous Employee in South Seattle, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Great Pay, diverse Ideas and Issues, great perks such as Movie nights, and sporting event tickets

    Cons

    Strange Hours, and moving goalposts when it comes to pleasing the only person that matters at Vulcan

    Continue reading
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  8. 4.0
    Current Employee

    Lots to love

    Jan 7, 2018 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    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.

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    1 person found this review helpful
  9. 2.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    The Illusion of Work

    Jan 2, 2018 - Senior Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    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.

    12 people found this review helpful

    Vulcan Response

    Vulcan

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

  10. 1.0
    Current Employee, less than 1 year

    Lives up to its local reputation

    Jan 15, 2018 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    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.

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    19 people found this review helpful

    Vulcan Response

    Vulcan

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

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Vulcan photo of: Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin joins Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf on stage at a recent company meeting
Vulcan photo of: Field work for the Allen Coral Atlas
Vulcan photo of: Volunteering at Lowell Elementary
Vulcan photo of: Russell Wilson and Ciara stopped by recently to meet with Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf, Mary Cadera and Art Min to discuss philanthropic endeavors
Vulcan photo of: Sporting our custom cycling jerseys
Vulcan photo of: At Vulcan we take the dog days of summer literally and invite employees to bring their dogs to work for a fun-filled day. This year we had more than 75 dogs in the office.
Vulcan photo of: Two of the stars of "Step" teach Vulcan employees some moves.
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