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I worked at ReD Associates full-time
1) The job can be stimulating. It can be fun to puzzle out a project with your team, and fieldwork can be very compelling.
2) Good free lunches and coffee. The library is pretty good. You learn to put together nice powerpoint decks and something about business. Many smart, intellectually-inclined and interesting colleagues, including a few of the partners/leadership. Danish-style benefits, so 5 weeks vacation.
3) If you’re a new graduate looking to get a start in the private sector, it can be a fun place to work. It's also a good fit for people with outside interests, etc. because it can be relatively easy money once you know the basics. As long as you can shrug off some of the company’s Cons, you can do well here. Other qualities are also helpful for this (see Cons).
1) Lack of rigor/substance: The work can be demanding and engaging, but it’s based on often flimsy application of a few social science theories and methods. It's largely just “expensively rephrasing what people already know” and ginning up a few (often thinly) fieldwork-sourced truisms to hang strategic recommendations on. While there is a bit of an art (if not a science) to this, there’s an Emperor’s New Clothes quality to the whole enterprise. The partners have done a pretty good job getting executives to buy pricey market research & strategy projects, in part by projecting a depth that isn’t there.
2) Botox: ReD is notorious for this-- at times plumping up credentials and expertise, and presenting itself as having a bunch of anthropologists, sociologists, etc. on staff when there are at best a handful of these. Most staff are social science/humanities graduates straight out of college or master’s programs with a bit of work experience.
3) Leadership faffing about re: Cognizant: Years into the Cognizant partnership it’s still unclear how to make it work— or if it can. Leadership has shifted the strategy haphazardly to try to figure this out, but with little to show for their efforts so far beyond a lot of dead end work and bureaucratic wrangling for staff.
Leadership even brought in highly paid Technologists with irrelevant backgrounds (satellites, etc.) to help bridge the gap between ReD and Cognizant... just kind of bizarre decision-making based on a category confusion re: what Technology and Digital and IT mean here. These are just a couple of the reasons why the prognosis doesn’t look great regardless of whether the acquisition actually happens. All of the flailing has taken a toll on morale.
4) Mild (to moderate?) racism: While the company tends to lean politically and culturally Left, you might have to endure conversations about the merits of The Bell Curve, the scourge of political correctness, or the word "negro" with some partners; or roll your eyes discreetly at a partner who traffics in racist metaphors and stereotypes and unironically complains about having too many racist friends in nyc; or educate another one about how dark skin comes in different shades... among other throwbacks.
And, as another reviewer has noted, the company has a not particularly subtle (White) Men First approach to advancement.
Advice to Management
Pay out the long deferred bonuses to staff. Offer a more flexible work-from-home policy, which is increasingly standard. Do proper due diligence before jumping into bed with potential parent companies. Sort out your bias and culture issues. Find a solution to the ridiculous temperature issues in the office (e.g. Please replace those loud, cheap box fans).
First round was a homework assignment. Second round was an interview with two mid-level staff over Skype. The third/final round was with two executives over Skype (did not offer to pay for travel).
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