I have been working at Saiful Bouquet full-time (More than 3 years)
Great company that gives to young engineers exposure to exciting projects. Engineers who are willing to take responsibilities are rewarded by working on very high profile projects. All principals are very knowledgeable and technical therefore you will always find an answer to your questions. The company is fast pace therefore you will get to learn a lot in a very short term.
The company rewards long term commitment and provide very good benefits (very good 401k, many company events, free snack/drinks,...).
As the company works on very high end and fast pace projects, young engineers need to close the gap between the school knowledge and practical/required technical knowledge within the first 6-12 months. Therefore engineers need to do their "homework" and be willing to work on their own to match the company expectations. This pressure is not easy to take and sometimes overwhelming but i do believe that this is for the engineer benefits as well.
Advice to Management
Have faith in young engineers and empower them.
I worked at Saiful Bouquet full-time (More than a year)
Saiful Bouquet for sure provides more than an engineer can expect. However, not everyone is able to understand and feel it, let alone benefit from it.
Projects & Work
The best part about the company is the high profile projects that an engineer can work on. Unlike the big firm only allows one to work on something he is good at, Saiful Bouquet gives young engineers the opportunity to work as much as he can. From conceptual design thru construction administration, from concrete to steel, an engineer is encouraged to learn as much as he can. Imagine an engineer can do the performance based analysis for a high-rise building in his first year, ambitious ones consider it as a rewarding challenge, while others complain it as pressure.
Usually this is the phase creating problems. Industry is nothing like school, where people work for their own benefit and have sufficient time to learn, those people are called students. However, in company people work for clients, and are being paid to perform rather than to learn, then they become engineers. Some engineers consider the learning process as part of the work, which in my opinion, is not. Get out of the school doesn't mean we stop doing homeworks, and that shouldn't be considered as overtime. Once engineer is familiar with SBI's standard and required knowledge, all the rewards will eventually come on his resume or become part of the skill set.
Very generous 401K matching plan, and probably the best medical insurance plan. Fresh fruit and many types of snacks and drinks are always in the kitchen. Office massage, quiet room, and relaxing environment makes SBI have the best perks in the industry. And thank you to the office manager, who keeps making everything better.
With the profound understanding of the building code, SBI tries to push the design to its limit. That requires a very solid knowledge about every parts of the design. In order to make things done, SBI wants its engineers to understand the concept first. Furthermore, SBI concentrates on the quality of drawings, which makes engineers have to pay attention to every detail. The working culture makes SBI engineers very valuable in the job market. All the managers are super knowledgable, and they are willing to help anyone in the office.
With many immigrants, SBI has a very friendly working environment. Actually Mr. Saiful is very supportive to immigrants, so is office manager Jeannine. There is no difficulty at all for an immigrant to fit in and make friends with each other. Happy hour, office activities including bowling and fishing, birthday party every month, all make the office a very good place to work. I hardly see people in other companies still talk to each other after work, while SBI is so different.
All in all, I think SBI is a company that separates engineers into two groups. Engineers in one will survive there and be able to survive everywhere; engineers in the other may only be able to do mediocre work and move slowly.
Sometimes the workload may be higher than usual, which increases the pressure. However, it does happen in every firm that has a growing reputation.
Some managers may be harsh to engineers when they make silly mistakes. Do homeworks first before taking the exam and don't take it personal.
Advice to Management
Not everyone has 20+ years of experience and born to know everything. Here I quote what Mr. Saiful said to engineers before:"be patient, and good things will come". I guess the wise suggestion may be considered by everyone.
I was well taken care of during my time at SBI. There were occasional company outings and coworker bonding events as well as good snacks. My specific team of coworkers were fun people and generally hard workers.
Often times demands/deadlines lack a realistic approach to getting work done on time. This can lead to crazy hours or not being able to give proper time to a project.
My experience at the San Diego office was extremely enriching. The office is a small group of devoted and intelligent engineers. They are also great people, and the office is like a small family were everyone gets along very well each other. On the technical side, you can get out of the job as much as you put in. Projects are challenging and engineers there get to work on multiple aspects of each project, thus promoting learning and growth. On the inter-personal side, the people at the office are amazing. There were there for me every step of the way, as they are for each other. They would not only answer my questions, but take an extra step and give me insights on the background. They are not only hard-working engineers, but also fun and good at heart.
I did not have any negative experiences while at the company.
As a Structural Engineering Firm, Saiful Bouquet has been growing at a very fast pace. This has brought in a lot of interesting and high profile jobs and has opened up great opportunities for the employees to gain tremendous amount of experience as structural engineers, drafters, coordinators, admin, marketing and managers.
I have been working as a full time engineer for over a year now and have realized many benefits of working in SBI. Listed below are a few crucial ones:
1. You get a chance to work directly with the Project managers and Principals. They have an open door policy, you can consult any principal directly.
2. SBI has a fast work pace. If you are focused and determined, you would gain an enormous amount of experience in a short amount of time.
3. Young employees benefit the most, as they are learning from people who have had more than twenty years of experience in the industry.
4. All colleges are extremely down to earth, friendly and helpful.
5. It's extremely challenging and always keeps you on your toes.
As engineering graduates and aspiring structural engineers, it is very important that we understand that Structural Engineering is not all about engineering. As structural Engineers, we have to coordinate with almost all of the different organizations that are involved in the completion of a project. At SBI, employees get exposed to all the elements of structural engineering since the beginning which facilitates their development and growth.
Sometimes as a young engineer all you care about is engineering. You may get disappointed by the fact that sometimes you don't get to do analysis or engineering due to the phase your project is in. This phase may get stretched for a long time depending on the project you are working on. I believe, this is inevitable regardless of where you work.
Advice to Management
My only advise to the management would be to try and understand the thoughts and needs of the new generation and bring a change in the work environment once in a while.
I have been working at Saiful Bouquet full-time (More than 10 years)
Saiful Bouquet is a dynamic, growing company with fascinating projects, set up with a structure that allows engineers to establish their careers and grow with the firm. However, it is not an easy place to work. A lot has been written here about Saiful's tendency to challenge engineers publicly. I actually see this as one of the positive aspects of the firm, but others take it differently. Saiful wants to train his engineers to communicate effectively and think holistically about their projects, and this sometimes involves putting them on the spot to answer questions that might be posed by discriminating architects, owners, or contractors. At its best, it is a stimulating Socratic method that can be very constructive for the engineer. However, some engineers are put off by his brusque approach. If he finds that an engineer has been working on a project for months with no Basis of Design, or with assumptions that have not been properly communicated and confirmed, he will lose his temper. Many engineers - even those who join with several years of experience - start out with a very blinkered, process-oriented, uncommunicative approach. They need to be converted to the firm's way of doing business, and that can involve a certain amount of argument.
Engineers who have worked with Saiful Bouquet for many years learn not to take these challenges personally. They will also learn how to defend their design to owners, architects, contractors, and peer reviewers, with the conviction that their design is not only Code compliant, but also cost effective, appropriate for the intended use, constructible, and consistent with the architect's aesthetic vision. They will look forward to brainstorming sessions with their peers knowing they will be challenged, but the process will improve their project. Eventually, those who succeed will end up being rewarded with a high level of trust and autonomy (and compensation) as a Project Manager or Principal of the firm. Nobody who has reached this level has ever left the company.
As the company's reputation has grown, the size and quality of projects has improved. The portfolio now includes many of the largest and most challenging projects in Southern California, including many Performance Based Engineering designs. These projects offer exceptional career opportunities.
Some employees do not appreciate this type of work environment. Being called upon to discuss and defend projects can be distracting and uncomfortable for many engineers, as well as others in the open office area.
As noted above, Saiful Bouquet pursues some of the most high-profile projects available, and these projects also tend to have very demanding schedules. Engineers at Saiful Bouquet are frequently asked whether or not they wish to participate in such projects, since the very nature of these projects involves certain short-term and long-term sacrifices. As with most competitive design firms, there is little margin for error, and the firm’s insistence on cost-effective designs and client satisfaction sometimes takes a toll on engineers.
Some engineers try to get ahead by putting in many more hours than expected or requested, to be sure their designs are fully vetted before being presented - only to find that the entire design was based on an incorrect assumption and needs to go back to square one. As the company grows, more of the training of junior engineers is incumbent on the Project Managers, whose training abilities are evolving. Some engineers did not get a fair experience in this regard, and left feeling bitter about the company.
I worked at Saiful Bouquet full-time (More than a year)
Saiful/Bouquet has a great work environment. I was always treated fairly by my PM’s. I gained a lot of real-world experience right away working on large scale projects. It was tough during the deadlines, but that project knowledge and having to learn to deal with hard deadlines right away has definitely helped me in my new position.
There are a lot of fun people there. From the Drafters to the Admin, they have a fun group. They provided great health insurance benefits which unfortunately I didn’t use often.
Long hours were the norm. Deadlines were really intense and stressful. And depending on your manager, your stress level could double or even triple. Work/life balance was poor. And I don’t think there was enough one-on-one guidance.
Advice to Management
Do a better job mentoring engineers. Management needs to be more engaging with lower level employees in decision making. Hours are extremely long. Try capping the day at 10 hours. Hire more people to ease the load on engineers. Pay for overtime or show monetary appreciation in other ways.( ie. Additional days off). Just do more to make engineers feel appreciated.
I worked at Saiful Bouquet full-time
You have such an eclectic group of employees under your banner; you endeavor to improve employee and company productivity with your Annual Management Retreat. Your employees enjoy free baseball tickets on Dodgers night and discounted tickets for their guest. You host a Saiful/Bouquet Annual Company Picnic and Annual SBI Holiday Party in the interest of promoting goodwill between you and your employees.
As we near the end of year, it is the perfect time to review business practices conducted over the past year and decide which ones should continue and which ones should cease.
Let me say before I begin that I believe you started out with the best of intentions when you chose to open for business as Saiful & Bouquet. Since 1997, there have been at least two major economic downturns, so I do understand the concerns of all owners who must meet a certain quota in order to maintain a current roster of employees and cover all operating costs while hoping to generate a profit in the process. I’m sure it was necessary to strategize how to stay afloat, not lose any members of your staff and even hire a few here and there. During the past six months you’ve been awarded new contracts; congratulations on your increase.
I’m sure you are aware that you have employees working in excess of 40 hours per week, which is bound to happen from time to time. You are blessed with a staff that is either very conscientious or in fear of losing his or her job. I would venture to say both statements are probably true. In an effort to not fall behind in their workload, some of your workers work late into the evening during weekdays and/or work in the office over the weekend, accounting for as many as 1/2-3/4 of your engineers and draftsmen.
Let us take into account the deadlines which must be met requiring your employees to put in overtime. If a worker puts in a 24-hour day on what would normally be a 4-hour day on a Friday, he or she has already worked the equivalent of 20 hours, or a part-time job. On a 9-hour day it is an average of 15 hours, almost 2 full days’ worth of time. If an employee earns $1,000 per week, and worked 20 extra hours, this equates to $750 in overtime pay. If this same employee does this for 4 weeks, he would’ve earned $3,000 in overtime pay. If the same employee worked an extra 40 hours in one week, the overtime rate of pay would be $1,500. If he did this for four weeks, he would’ve earned $6,000. Now who could use an additional $1,500-$6,000 on their paycheck? What if this occurred over a period of 8 weeks/2 months? The value of the overtime would be $12,000. Now, I’m only referring to one employee. What if 5-12 employees were performing for SBI to this magnitude? The total amount of overtime pay would reach into six figures, not excluding “matching” taxes and 401K contributions.
Company policies you drafted and put them into operation were designed to strengthen your company’s financial statement, to the detriment of your most diligent employees. Now which policies am I referring to? Well, let’s see:
• Creating managerial titles that are “useless.” With the help of managerial titles you can “legally” stick quite a few employees in the “exempt” pile and thus be “exempt” from having to pay any overtime, and does not “exempt” you from pressing your workers into service beyond an 8/9-hour workday or on weekends.
• Banking overtime hours. Most employees usually don’t report every hour worked over the allotted time for a given day on their time cards. Employees who work overtime, by your rule, can only set aside a portion of their excess hours to be used as time off (for good behavior, I suppose). These employees are told when to use them or lose them, like taking a vacation with no “extra” cash to work with. Would this policy be sufficient for you? Wouldn’t you rather have the cash instead? I would guess your answer would be a resounding, “Yes!”
• Too Few draftsmen in relation to the number engineers. There seems to be a hesitation when it comes to hiring more draftsmen. Of course no one wants to lay off anyone for lack of work, but to expect 11 draftsmen to carry the workload of 35 engineers and meet all the deadlines on time, and without having to put in a ridiculous number of hours for “free” is ludicrous. In regard to banking these ridiculous number of hours, your “exempted” employees can’t be spared enough days to equal actual hours worked in excess of 40; they are too vital to the running of your company.
• If we yell at them they will perform better. Mr. Islam, this isn’t strictly an issue you have with your employees. It seems other in management positions do likewise to their underlings, but it isn’t right, it’s unfair and disrespectful. No employer or manager needs to raise his or her voice to another person under their supervision. You are intimidating those individuals who are extremely sensitive and bringing some to tears; they internalize this emotional form of abuse and feel trapped-meaning, afraid to find another job. They develop illnesses because of the outpouring of acids to vital internal organs, causing great concern, pain and anguish. The employees who aren’t affected by it have family who abuse them in this manner and is therefore a useless method. You and your managers run the risk of becoming ill too. In this industry, there are more strokes, heart attacks, bypass heart surgery and yes, even death before reaching retirement. In my many years of experience I’ve seen it all, and it isn’t pretty; not good karma to heap on anyone’s head. Don’t give cause for your employee’s life insurance to be used prematurely to cover funeral costs. Speak in a normal tone; they will still hear what it is you have to say, and instruct your management team to follow suit.
• Some of your workers are straight out of college or a university. There was this gentleman who worked at night in my same building who was studying to become an engineer. When I asked him how he was doing he told me he had so much material to absorb in such a short period of time, that he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to retain the information when starting his first job as an engineer.
This is probably true for all of your employees fresh out of a college or university, whether they spent 2 years learning drafting or 4-plus years as a budding engineer. The education they receive does not include much if any structural material. They are at a loss the minute they enter past your double doors. You cannot assume they should know what wasn’t taught. Sure; you have senior employees who could teach them a thing or two, but who has the time? You have to be patient as you go about the business of training them. It takes time; it is a process. You wanted to save money by hiring at the lowest scale possible, and yet there is a price to pay at the other end, which is time, a most precious commodity in your company.
Advice to Management
You have good employees, but you don’t treat them like they matter to you, but more like slaves who must do whatever you say and for as long as you say to do it, “free labor” for you after an 8 or 9 or 4-hour day has been exhausted. If you think your employees are excited to work for “free,” think again.
Your employees have all sorts of expenses and needs to be met, same as you and Tom Bouquet, the co-owners of Saiful & Bouquet. You have young employees having to provide for the new additions to their families; needing to pay off student loans’ physically and/or financially supporting older parents; in need of reliable transportation; needing or wanting to move to a different residence; wanting to purchase a home; their current residence is in need of repair; are needing to visit family. This can also be true of your “seasoned” employees paying on student loans for their children; in need of reliable transportation; needing to move to a different residence; financially and/or physically supporting elderly parents; dealing with medical issues; needing to make repairs to their homes; needing to visit family; needing to go on a real vacation. They want to spend quality time with their spouses, children, extended family and friends, but some you give no choice but to slave away the hours while others are able to enjoy their lives. Your employees may work for you, but you don’t own them or rule their lives. Whenever they work hard and long hours for the sake of SBI, how can you justify keeping any additional income they rightfully earned out of their pockets and place in yours, especially when it is by the fruit of their labor that you are able to reap millions of dollars in contracts?
As I said earlier, it is time to examine which policies work and should continue and which ones you need to ditch. You may not be able to correct the “sins” of the past, but you can correct the error in judgment for this past year. It is time to ask God, who sees everything, knows exactly what you’ve been up to, for his forgiveness and vow to stop these egregious business tactics, effective immediately. And, it is not too late to give your employees what is rightfully due them.
You can hand them their overtime pay in the form of a wonderful “bonus.” It would create an opportunity to sing your praises rather than vent and conspire to leave your company now that their knowledge and experience has increased. Extend these gifts to your personal assistants, secretaries and HR personnel who work tirelessly on your behalf. God needs to see that you and Mr. Bouquet can indeed be men of honor and worthy of your employee’s respect.
Hiring more draftsmen will help you maintain a 40-hour work-week across the board, since you don’t want to pay overtime. If there is an occasional need to stay for a few hours your employee may be willing to oblige and without needing to be compensated for their time. If an employee doesn’t feel appreciated in ways that matter most, which for most is monetary, you will soon have a worker who is no longer doing his or her best and will soon leave for greener pastures. Also, be aware that there are other companies who do pay their workers overtime, even if you chose not to.
Be patient with new hires. Create a foundation of success by training them and enriching their knowledge in this field. Refrain from showing your temper, throwing temper tantrums and bullying. Again, I trust you can behave in a more professional manner and all will benefit when you do.
Now, I know I’ve said a lot, and you can choose to disregard everything I’ve just mentioned. It may seem like I’m attacking you, but in truth I’m wanting to save you from yourself-meaning, I don’t want to see you lose what you’ve worked so tirelessly to achieve. Be proud of your accomplishments, but not boastful; treat your employees with respect as an employer who believes in God should do. Please do not ignore what I’ve shared with you; I’ve seen many companies lose everything because they elected to cheat their employees and exploit their work ethics. Don’t implode, grow; remove the bad karma you’ve created for yourselves as business partners, your company and management staff. Offset it by doing good and what is right and pleasing in God’s eyes; otherwise, bad karma will continue to mount until it gives under the pressure.
I worked at Saiful Bouquet full-time (Less than a year)
Will find it okay if you are workaholic and are willing to learn
Very little family/personal time on weekdays
I have been working at Saiful Bouquet full-time (More than a year)
Working with some of the most hard working, fun and talented people in the industry. Management is extremely passionate about engineering excellence and putting their best work in front of the client. They have been adding a lot of perks that make the work environment fun.
- Work life balance is a bit off. More accrued vacation would be a great trade-off
- Need to discuss clear growth plan with employees
- Better training needed so expectations are clear from the start.
Advice to Management
Start having weekly meetings so everyone is kept in the loop on all aspects of the companies growth.
Don't lose your way as the company grows. Keep on the path that made Saiful Bouquet one of the premier engineers in California.
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