Illumina Reviews

Updated 20 October 2014
Updated 20 October 2014
144 Reviews
3.9
144 Reviews
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Illumina CEO Jay Flatley
Jay Flatley
106 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Fast paced, well well-thought our solutions/processes (in 13 reviews)

  • You get to work with a lot of smart people, and the amenities of the new campus are great (in 12 reviews)


Cons
  • No work/life balance, challenging to get ahead with all the great people (in 19 reviews)

  • No work life balance, getting more bureaucratic (in 6 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    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 (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    Long hours, some work/life balance challenges, management practices somewhat outdated, few women in senior leadership roles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
  2.  

    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
  3. 3 people found this helpful  

    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 (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
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    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 (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
  6. 3 people 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 (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
  7. 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 (less than an 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.

  8. 10 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 (more than an 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
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Cutting edge chaos!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Field Service Engineer in Seattle, WA (US)
    Current Employee - Field Service Engineer in Seattle, WA (US)

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

    Pros

    Good industry dominating products.
    High level of collaboration and communication. Great coworkers and demanding customers(but in a good way). Feels like a sense of purpose, work that is doing good and make the world a better place. Management I report to is very hands off and supportive. Technically challenging and fun. I can say I'm one of few that that finds contentment in a 9-5 job.

    Cons

    Pay and benefits slightly below average. Lots of growing pains in the company, feels chaotic and with roles/processes changing so frequently it's hard to keep up. Parts inventory system is largely ad hoc, constant shortages are the norm. Lots of silly mistakes in documentation, lack of effective processes. Optical based technology although works well, can be dethroned quickly if a competitor comes up with a disruptive technology that is cheaper/faster/simpler and produces good accurate data.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Don't reinvent the wheel, many of the needed processes already exist and are being used everyday by companies. Continue to heavily invest in future technologies, never ever rest on your laurels. There is a tendency for successful companies to become fat/lazy/complacent, else, go the way of Eastman Kodak.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 5 people found this helpful  

    What's all the complaining about?

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

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

    Pros

    I keep reading reviews about the horrible work-life balance and how people work endless hours. Then why is the parking lot mostly empty before 9am and after 6pm, and a ghost town on weekends? Don't believe me? Just drive by and see for yourself. Perhaps maybe by San Diego standards Illumina is a demanding employer. Can't get my afternoon surf in, oh my. By most other measures the workload is moderate at best. Contrary to other reviews, the politics are not overwhelming, and collaboration is pretty good. Never had an instance of asking for help from another group and not getting it.

    Cons

    So many layers and titles. OMG! For a company with 2000 people, new scientists and engineers can count at least 11 layers of titles between themselves and the CEO. It is absurd. Decision process is not particularly crisp, but not to the point of getting in the way (too much). Benefits are decent but middle-of-the-road at best. Payscale is on the low side, they can probably get away with it for a while as the dominant company in a hot field, and as long as the overall stock direction is up. Internal systems are either non-existent or abysmal. Fortunately senior management knows it, is fairly open about it, and is working on a solution

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Push decisions down the chain of command. Seems that directors wait for VPs to decide, VPs wait for the SVPs, and the SVPs waffle until Jay speaks up. If there is one organizational thing that can endanger the future health of the company, it is this very issue. So add "decision making" to the GBP process and institutionalize a healthy level of decision ownership at the appropriate level.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great, Till I was laid off

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

    I have been working at Illumina

    Pros

    Great people, good money, poor management

    Cons

    Long days and short nights

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get a clue

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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