European Bioinformatics Institute Reviews | Glassdoor.co.uk

European Bioinformatics Institute Reviews

Updated 13 December 2018
43 reviews

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3.9
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Ewan Birney and Rolf Apweiler
10 Ratings

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  1. "Excellent organisation. Above average."

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    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Scientific Curator
    Former Employee - Scientific Curator
    Recommends

    I worked at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time

    Pros

    Excellent working environment. Amazing health insurance.

    Cons

    Far away from Cambridge (there are free shuttles). Nursery very expensive and with long waiting list.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Good for 9 years but expect nothing more"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Hinxton, England
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Hinxton, England

    I worked at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time

    Pros

    Good salaries with annual increments and inflationary rise, nice perks like family and child allowance (per child), very comprehensive healthcare, great staff association, 30 days leave (plus extra discretionary days at Christmas). Great campus with good facilities and beautiful grounds, albeit very remote from anything else. Generally friendly environment and nice people, especially the admin staff. Overall good science but very fragmented - there could be much more collaboration to avoid multiple groups doing essentially the same tasks - but you wonder if this is avoided sometimes as group/team leaders could be worried they might then lose or have to share responsibilities, and hence potentially lose staff, and hence funding etc...

    Cons

    Absolutely no chance of career progression for the vast majority of staff. You work for a maximum nine years (or if you're lucky 9 years and 11 months) and you go. Ridiculous in service roles and a complete waste of time and money retraining new staff and losing significant experience and expertise. The 9 year rule makes sense for postdocs in research but doesn't work in a service environment.

     A small number (generally those they struggle to replace but have decided not to keep on, for whatever reason) get a few years extension past the nine years but then they're out. However, the chosen few, some of whom are widely known to be dreadful managers and many of whom are far from outstanding in their field, have stayed in post for decades and will probably remain until retirement on a huge pension. Plus everyone knows that far more staff are kept past 9 years at the HQ in Germany.

    Many admin-related things are heavily German-centric, including dreadful maternity leave. No clear way that resources/projects are evaluated across the board throughout the institute, so no real incentive to improve performance etc, and information seldom communicated from the top down in a timely manner (if at all) to the majority of staff.

    Advice to Management

    Give everyone who wants the option to stay past 9 years (including the receptionists!) the choice to interview for it based on their past work/achievements and skills using an impartial external interview panel (this bit is crucial), and repeat the assessment (with an equivalent panel) every five years - level the playing field as opposed to encouraging cronysim.

  3. "Very good place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Bioinformatician in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Current Employee - Bioinformatician in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    * family allowance
    * private GP
    * flexible work time

    Cons

    * far away from Cambridge, bad transportation
    * food is bad


  4. "Great launchpad for data scientists, engineers"

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    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Administrator in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Former Employee - Administrator in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    If you are into data science, enjoy tricky development challenges, and want to make a positive difference for open science, you'd be hard pressed to find a better worplace than the EBI. Researchers can collaborate with exceptional molecular biologists throughout the intense biotech cluster of Cambridge, and with colleages at other EMBL sites. Keeping in mind that you can only be there for a limited time, it is a place where you can achieve alot and cross organizational/disciplinary boundaries. If you are into data and discovery biology, make every effort to avail yourself of opportunities here. I have never met a nicer group of people.

    Cons

    If you work outside of scientific and technical roles, approach with caution. An entrenched culture of bullying at EMBL headquarters spills over here. It is not a place to build a career, as the "9 year rule" builds in gradual demotivation. The supportive culture of the EBI makes it a place to focus on projects and visible achievement (rather than ensuring the machine is well-oiled and running) and the local leadership can be inspiring in that regard. Steer clear of EMBL headquarters and keep your end goals/exit plan in sight, and you will enjoy a few years of warm collegiality and unparalleled interestingness.

    Advice to Management

    Hopefully the new director general of EMBL will be able to address the systemic nepotism and unchecked bullying at EMBL headquarters that has increasingly affected the EBI - a place built as a meritocracy and staffed by dedicated professionals. Perhaps the new top-level leadership can begin by implementing some actual consequences to breaking the rules of the organisation's much-touted but managerially ignored anti-harassment policy. Note that this pertains primarily to administrative roles.


  5. "EBI"

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

    I have been working at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time

    Pros

    Great place to be in centre of bioinformatics

    Cons

    workload can be high most of them time


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Great organisation"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Wonderful organisation filled with great people doing important work for humanity. The senior people are wonderful, as is the organisation. There are lots of clever and interesting people there, and you get to meet people from cultures from all over the world.

    Wonderful campus - caring people - great purpose.

    Cons

    Experiences vary from team to team, the organisation itself is fantastic, a handful of the teams aren't great. A lack of adequate HR policies to control the excesses of a handful of middle managers made the life of many staff I saw a misery (e.g. people regularly being in tears after being taken to pieces or pushed to resign) which is really unacceptable, and HR seemed powerless to correct these abuses of power. Unfortunately EBI's special diplomatic status also means that UK employment law does not apply there, so there's not that to fall back on either.

    Advice to Management

    Improve training of management on soft skills, implement company wide policies to reduce variation in teams, implement 360 degree review processes, etc.

    Similarly every team is doing their own thing in terms of development / languages / etc... which is quite inefficient. EBI functions soft of like a loose collection of different teams but would be far more impactful and effective if managed more like a cohesive company.


  7. "Good work place with lots of benefits"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time

    Pros

    Good life/work balance, interesting projects, nice work environment and colleagues.

    Cons

    Almost no career progression options/paths

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Good Benefits; No Career Progression"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Developer in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Former Employee - Software Developer in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very good worldwide medical and dental insurance.
    Salary about average for those starting after 2014 (staff starting before 2014 are typically one grade higher due to budget cuts).
    Excellent financial benefits for those who are married and/or have children.
    Informal flexible working arrangements in most teams (also see cons).
    Pay increase after first 6 months, then annual pay increase to next step within your grade. Annual inflationary pay rise.
    Friendly colleagues, regular social events (cheese and wine during working hours; mince pies at Christmas; summer and winter parties; cinema trips; free punting).
    Free buses to Cambridge, Saffron Walden and the villages in-between (although these are very popular and get full on a daily basis).

    Cons

    Maximum of nine years employment, unless you are one of the special few who know the right people.
    Line managers in excess of 9 years get reviewed every 4 years, to see if someone else can do their job. Sometimes there can be tension between managers and employees if they feel you could be competition to their survival at EMBL-EBI.
    No pension unless you stay for 10 years or more, otherwise you get a lump sum on leaving.
    Little opportunity to gain first name author publications, with managers typically being the only ones writing papers.
    Absolutely no career progression for 99% of the staff.
    Lack of willingness to embrace new technology, which can make getting your next job difficult if you have stayed here too long.
    Many staff seem to not care about their jobs, do very little work and are just waiting for their nine years to end so they get a larger pension lump sum.
    Daily allowance (instead of receipted subsistence) for business travel is poor if visiting more expensive countries or cities, so you end up having to spend your own money whilst on business trips.
    No formalised flexible working, which means your ability to take compensatory days off for unpaid overtime is dependent on your line manager.
    No bonus or incentive to do good work.

    Advice to Management

    Scrap the nine year rule for non-research staff (e.g. administrators, software developers, cleaners, etc).


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Not good for postdocs wanting to move into services"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Bioinformatician in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Former Employee - Bioinformatician in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Work life balance is great.

    Cons

    EBI "services" is not a good place to jump start one's career after a postdoc. Bioinformatics jobs at EBI do not need much or any scientific or research background and are mainly tailored toward "masters" in computer science.
    While, postdocs are far better qualified for a niche bioinformatics job in the industry. Overall postdocs could regret it later, having lost their hard-gained postdoc research skills, worse sitting next to and getting paid the same salary of an informatics master - essentially you have wasted 6 years of your life doing a PhD and a Postdoc.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to learn and network"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Hinxton, England
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Hinxton, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at European Bioinformatics Institute full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very good place to learn and develop yourself. As a developer you have a lot of freedom and get the chance to meet other developers or biologists. The general vibe is very friendly and sometimes almost family like.

    Cons

    As a developer you may end up very quick as a “he/she knows everything” position, which is good but if you want to learn of others it makes it difficult. Also co-developers leave constantly, as there is only in rare cases a career progression and you have to go after nine years. This can make it very difficult to progress in a project.

    Advice to Management

    Service positions shouldn’t be time limited and contracts should be on a longer term bases and shouldn’t be extended just 3-4 months before. The system makes sense for researchers, but you need people who keep everything running. Constant leaving parties and hand over processes or uncertainty about contracts prevent a long lasting and working workflow.