Illumina Reviews

Updated 25 August, 2014
Updated 25 August, 2014
232 Reviews

3.9
232 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Illumina CEO Jay Flatley
Jay Flatley
174 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • You get to work with a lot of smart people, and the amenities of the new campus are great (in 11 reviews)

  • cutting-edge research organisation, very nice work culture with decent socialising events for employees (in 10 reviews)


Cons
  • The worst middle management I've ever had in my professional career, the work life balance (in 18 reviews)

  • No work life balance, getting more bureaucratic (in 5 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Everybody was really passionate about what they did and I loved it!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Engineer  in  San Diego, CA (US)
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in San Diego, CA (US)

    I worked at Illumina as a contractor for less than a year

    Pros

    Flexible times, good people, nice campus.

    Cons

    Contractors don't get a lot of the benefits (like using the gym...)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Best company to work for in San Diego

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Global Marketing
    Current Employee - Global Marketing

    I have been working at Illumina full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Exciting culture of innovation, rapid growth. Focused efforts on improving employee satisfaction. Passionate, smart people will change human health.

    Cons

    Long hours, some work/life balance challenges, management practices somewhat outdated, few women in senior leadership roles

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue to seek opportunities to communicate with employees in relatable ways, take feedback seriously, and be good role models.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Great team dynamic and company culture!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Illumina as an intern

    Pros

    Illumina's open and collaborative culture makes work enjoyable. I can see huge strides in promoting work life balance and more structure. Overall just a great experience and the company just keeps on growing!

    Cons

    The fast growth needs to be paralleled with established process and structure.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    The experience still haunts me sometimes.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Not Applicable  in  Cambridge, East of England, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Not Applicable in Cambridge, East of England, England (UK)

    I worked at Illumina full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    It is a progressive company which issue shares to tie you into your role. So you can see how much effort you put in to how the company grows. In this respect, it gives you a sense of achievement overall. It is also one of those "life time opportunity" to be within a technologically forefront company. When I left university, I aspired to be in such a company. I came into this company mid-way through my career. There was a semi-friendly culture, but it conflicts with one's loyalty as the organisational chart kept changing.

    Cons

    The turnover rate was quite high. As I joined after the merger, and there was a period of respect between all colleagues, until you start to see individuals being taken out of the running. Then some kind of culling occurred for some reason. I was also caught up in the political organisational changes, such that I felt very marginalised, and also disrespected. I also realised that my contribution within those long email chains, often advices or trialed and tested solutions that came from years of experience from my side, was then taken as some kind of new ideas or achievement on the US side. It often were from the sales team who were more aggressive and came across as running the company to be honest ! It really was about US HQ, and no actual understanding of contribution on the Europe side at all. People got more annoyed as their contributions were not acknowledged and skillsets were stripped away. Or rather, "copied" away. It is one thing if you made clear who was in a project and who was not. But when the boundaries are so undefined, then yes, it seems almost like setting up the employee to fail.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I like you to know that, you managed to take away some of the very well respected managers who grew the original small companies before the big merger. That was a very big mistake. You potentially had some of the very wise and solid professionals who stood strong in this industry and ensured the security of the company, and you let this be mismanaged away by some very disrespectful and arrogant, and untrained under mid-30s professionals. Some of approaches used were even unlawful !

    I was surprised to find out that another colleague also took out a loan to supplement actual business trips to sell the products, and we are still in debt due to this. The salary was unjustified. Looking back in hindsight on Glassdoor here allowed me to see how naive some of us were in reality. You did not even look after the basics right. Allowing employees the most basic tools, without impacting their own personal and financial statuses.

    Also, you overworked your operations staff such that, I saw one woman fainting because of meeting your quarterly goals. Please ask yourself whether you are a true ethical company or not. Because if you were, then the ethical aspect starts on the inside, and that also mean following the employment laws ! Working under a set number of hours and no more, and bringing in health and safety laws too without burning out your own employees. Instead of perfecting some of the needed basics to keep employee happy and healthy in a steady way, the emphasis were put on the bottomline.

    I would also check the ethics and the professionalism of some of your senior IT managers. As I understand that a few of them joined and migrated from another bio-tech company. Yet, I saw one male manager who was absolutely unprofessional and harassed a young intern verbally, such to a high extent that, he rechallenged him back with a knife ! This was during a company meal,on an off site support trip. What kind of people are you hiring ? This is not the kind of company that I want to work for. And yes, this same high level Director just saw Jay as a face of the company and no more. Well, at least I believed in science, and I believe in what Jay say ! There is a huge difference between those who are from science backgrounds and believe in the company to those who just want the prestige and the title or the money.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Along for the ride

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Marketing  in  San Diego, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Marketing in San Diego, CA (US)

    I have been working at Illumina full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    * Market leader in a hot field in science.
    * Work-life balance really isn't that bad in the grand scheme of things (as another poster pointed out, the parking lot is nearly empty after 6:30pm).
    * Because of the appreciating stock, the equity grant and employee stock purchase plan (15% discount) become very lucrative rather quickly.
    * Campus is beautiful and centrally located. Very nice gym.

    Cons

    * Base pay and bonus are a bit low (which is mostly offset by a generous equity component).
    * Leadership is entrenched, and most senior leaders are more interested in keeping favor with Jay (the CEO) than actually doing a good job. The new President seems to lack any real authority.
    * The organization is a bit top-heavy, with limited opportunities to rise out of middle management.
    * The culture is chaotic, in part because management is too short-term focused. Get used to arbitrary and completely unrealistic timelines, all for the sake of pleasing Jay. Putting out fires becomes a daily activity.
    * The company's push into the clinical/diagnostic markets is unstructured and poorly executed.
    * Reorgs every 12-18 months can make or break your career. In the four+ years that I have been at Illumina, we have reorged three times - mostly for the worse. The company can't figure out how to align itself to push into critical new markets.
    * The company lacks even basic processes to operate like a grown-up company.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Learn to delegate (especially at the senior executive level). Create more opportunities for young talent to rise into leadership positions. Listen to your employees (I mean, take off your rose-colored glasses and really dig into the employee surveys).

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Excellent scientific challenges

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Bioinformatics Scientist
    Former Employee - Bioinformatics Scientist

    I worked at Illumina full-time

    Pros

    cutting-edge research organisation, very nice work culture with decent socialising events for employees. Perks include: free gym membership, healthcare, stock options

    Cons

    limited movement/advancement within organisation. Scientific progress is possible, but organisational improvement is hard. Possibly the side-effect of an organisation grown to global dominance. They have a habit for taking researchers straight from PhD studies and paying them little more than a postdoc salary.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Treat Employees Poorly

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Production Supervisor  in  San Diego, CA (US)
    Former Employee - Production Supervisor in San Diego, CA (US)

    I worked at Illumina full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Illumina's stock price has been rapidly increasing the last ten years. They are well placed in the sequencing market and have an opportunity to lead the diagnostic sequencing market for years to come.

    Cons

    Illumina asks a lot from employees and offers very little in return. Illumina's stock price has done very well over the past few years which allows management to neglect all other aspects of compensation. As long as the stock price continues to rise upper management will be able to get away with mistreating their employees. A lot of good people have recently left.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Not everyone cares about stock options.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Front line Soldier

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Marketing
    Current Employee - Marketing

    I have been working at Illumina full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Amazing Technology, Innovator, Market Disruptor, Great San Diego campus

    Cons

    Just read the Glassdoor criticisms -- they are mostly legitimate. But Illumina is still a young company and is going through expected growing pains.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire the best and let your employees take you to the next level. Matt is the real leader of the future. Most want to work for him because he hires the best, lets them do their jobs, and provides the vision and support they need. Too many executives are obsessed with not losing their jobs and pleasing Jay. Start promoting more of us into senior management and move over.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 8 people found this helpful  

    The grass is not always greener

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Sales Representative  in  San Diego, CA (US)
    Former Employee - Senior Sales Representative in San Diego, CA (US)

    I worked at Illumina full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    One of the largest and fastest growing companies in San Diego.

    Competitive pay and benefits

    Innovative products

    Cons

    I have worked for several biotech companies as a territory manager and sales rep previously. Coming from smaller and medium sized biotechs in the past. I thought I had hit the jackpot with securing a position with Illumina. One of the largest and fastest growing companies in San Diego. Well, the grass is not always greener on the other side. It was the worst sales position and career move that I had chosen. My biotech lab and sales career has been long and really rewarding. Being in sales, I am a people person. I can relate to a very wide demographic of people. Yet, Illumina's company, culture and vibe was just a disconnect for me. It never really felt like a community or even welcoming to me. All the other companies that I worked for, there was transparency and cross departmental collaboration. At Illumina, it was like pulling teeth to get any assistance from marketing, product managers, technical support, customer service, fulfillment, and logistics. Nobody ever wanted to help each other. Each department seemed to be against each other. Never felt a collaborative effort. It was a very self serving or self preservation type of company culture. I guess it is understandable when I saw some colleagues fired out of the blue. If you see something like that, you probably want to keep very busy and your head down. As many other reviews here, I would have to agree that upper management has a deficiency in leading and growing this company.

    The sales teams were made mostly from people that have no science or biotech experience at all. How can your front line representatives sell an instrument when they have never worked in a lab or have zero understanding of the up or downstream processes that the instrument is going to fit into. There was one week of training but it was more like them turning on a fire hose. Trying to cram everything into one week. Online self training was also idiotic. Those that did not have previous scientific or biotech industry background didn't have a chance.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire experienced and educated sales professionals.

    Protect your employees first. Use layoffs as a last resort effort vs. a tool to protect your job because you missed an earnings call.

    There is probably no right way to lay people off but CEO Jay and upper management, please don't joke, smile and shake employees hands as you lead them into a corporate layoff meeting.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Unfair treatment to contractors

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  San Diego, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Diego, CA (US)

    I have been working at Illumina as a contractor for less than a year

    Pros

    Comparatively, Contractor gets good hourly pay.

    Cons

    Contractor is not allowed to use the gym and not the shower room. So they say company gym cannot cover contractor safety. BS! We can just sign the wavier. However, permanent employees need to sign the wavier, too. So if you normally exercise in the morning, or after work, contractor position at illumina will just make you feel miserably unfair.
    The whole company setting limits the networking and feeling equality for contractors. Being a contractor feel sucks! You will hear, "I'm sorry, you are not allowed to (gym/meeting/etc.)..., since you are a contractor" a lot. It just feels horrible. NOT feel like a part of the company at all.

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