Lab49 Reviews | Glassdoor.co.uk

Lab49 Reviews

Updated 16 March 2019
79 reviews

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3.1
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Lab49 CEO Luke Flemmer
Luke Flemmer
42 Ratings

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Pros
Cons
  • "Communication from senior management can be spotty at times" (in 11 reviews)

  • "No company is perfect, upper management can be a little clandestine but it rarely affects Sydney" (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Smart people, good teams, challenging projects"

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

    I have been working at Lab49 full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Good experience working with smart teams on challenging projects. I've learned a lot about the finance industry and have worked with interesting technologies to craft clever solutions to tough problems.

    Cons

    Wish I had more exposure to the business of consulting. I do a lot of technology but not so much consulting.

    Advice to Management

    None.


  2. "Not that bad"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Looks like most of the reviews on here are people who worked at lab when it was taken over by ION, it's a common pattern as their model is to purchase companies and cut them to the bone by forcing employees out.

    Very few people are left from the pre-ION days in London so it's pretty much a clean slate as they are rebuilding from scratch.

    Compared to working for ION, Lab49 is very pleasant, laidback place to work although you have to put up with the same HR and mangerial incompentance.

    Cons

    Don't expect exciting projects, London is very much a satelite office these days so you'll generally be supporting offshore teams which limits the type of projects which can be taken on.

    Advice to Management

    Be realistic about what the company is these days.

  3. "Consultancy"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Developer
    Former Employee - Software Developer

    I worked at Lab49 full-time

    Pros

    If not working on ION systems you have lots of freedom to use the latest technologies in greenfield projects.
    No support
    Flexible on hours

    Cons

    Benefits very poor compared to other similar companies
    Bonus late and small
    HR very disorganized, even getting paid can sometimes be a struggle
    Good chance they'll refuse to give you a reference
    Bored long standing business members sleeping at desk during day

    Advice to Management

    Explain to ION you need to compete with banks on salary/bonus to be able attract/keep talent


  4. Helpful (19)

    "Lost its way, losing its people"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Lab49 full-time

    Pros

    Although many of the best people have left Lab49 in the last year, the resulting power vacuum means that there is an opportunity for the talent that remains to rebuild the company into somewhere attractive with a new and improved culture (the old culture was not at all good, so it has to be better than that).

    Cons

    Lab49 is a company that has lost its identity - the reasons are a combination of a change in the ownership structure, high-profile resignations and a fair few redundancies. As a result, remaining employees are demotivated and confused about where the company is going, and most are actively looking to leave.

    Top-down communication is typically quite opaque - or worse, muddled and inaccurate - which adds to the unease, and the culture has historically been of the Command and Control variety. This not the type of workplace most people are prepared to work under any longer, hence departures have been frequent and damaging.

    I could not recommend the company to others at it stands at present, notwithstanding it's possible things can improve in the future with the right leaders and vision.

    Advice to Management

    Come clean on the future of the company - lack of communications is having a huge impact on people.


  5. Helpful (14)

    "Completely undervalue new talent"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    They do have a knack for hiring some great engineers - very smart, and very capable. Sadly they then treat them very poorly

    Cons

    I would be repeating what has been said time and time again over the years, and obviously ignored time and time again by senior management.
    I can say that most, if not all, of the positive reviews were written by internal recruitment team, or HR staff under orders of senior management.

    Advice to Management

    Leave


  6. Helpful (12)

    "Senior Java Engineer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Java Developer in London, England
    Former Employee - Senior Java Developer in London, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Lab49 full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    People are great, or were great as most of them left anyway. No reason to join the company at all. While they may seem to be a company that pays a lot, it's not worth it as there are others on the market which pay just as good.

    Cons

    - very poor communication top-down (non existent in fact)
    - company lies to it's employees promising no lay offs, where in fact they happen few weeks later
    - all the talent pretty much left the company
    - project architecture is not consistent, hasn't been proven to work, in fact it's known not to work due to some serious issues
    - everyone who's ever been their client no longer wants to do anything with them
    - one of the biggest clients they have pretty much hates the relationship they've built, which doesn't bold well for the future
    - don't get swayed by the bonuses as they don't exist
    - work/life balance is horrible; they will never personally ask you to stay after hours but will assign you with so much work it would be impossible to finish it on time and set the expectation bar really high, putting you into a corner where you feel like you have to stay making that decision yourself; then when prompted about doing "long hours" they conveniently say they never ask anyone to stay late;
    - there have been occasions where some of the senior staff would elevate their voice, not to say shout at you, if the work haven't been delivered on the deadline, which to begin with is ridiculous and undoable.

    And if you have had it and decide to leave, they will not release your references to potential new employers. What a shameful behaviour. Pretty much one of the worst experiences I've had in my career.

    Advice to Management

    Just stop doing what you're doing, as clearly it doesn't work.


  7. Helpful (12)

    "Failing company with immoral working practices"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Consultant in London, England
    Current Employee - Consultant in London, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Lab49 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Was apparently a great place to work many years ago. Also the software engineers that work here are usually of a very high calibre, so at least you'll learn something. Initial salaries are good for a non-bank in London, though don't expect it to go up or get more than a few hundred quid for your bonus.

    Cons

    Has gone downhill massively since Ion Trading took over, though the rot started before then. Ion Trading is a terrible company to work for (just look at their Glass Door reviews), so this isn't very surprising. I feel sorry for some of Ion Trading's more recent acquisitions, such as Caplin, since it's highly likely they'll end up the same way.

    The culture is riddled with immoral working practices such as:

    * Making people redundant with no notice or consultancy period and the absolute minimum legal redundancy payment. And in some cases, they apparently needed a legal reminder on what this minimum even was.

    * Requiring new joiners to write a Glass Door review as part of their on-boarding process, presumably in an attempt to improve their rating.

    * Refusing to provide references unless they are provided with full details, including contacts, of someone's new place of employment. A Lab49 employment contract usually allows you to work anywhere you haven't personally worked at, through Lab49, in the last 12 months. However Lab have a history of contacting your new employer and threatening legal action if you try go to any of their clients or potential clients, even though you have never worked with them yourself. People have had job offers or contracts pulled at the 11th hour though this tactic. Even an unsuccessful sales pitch in the last 12 months apparently qualifies as a potential client. If they ever decide that Ion clients count as Lab clients, then most of the financial industry in London will be closed off to you.

    * Mandatory (and a register is often taken) meetings in the evening, at least twice a year, with a sole purpose of trying to brainwash you into thinking Lab49 is really a great place to work. It doesn't work. After five minutes boredom sets in and everyone switches off.

    There have also been a number of very dodgy business decisions. For example in 2016, they fired every single QA resource they had. Despite them being some of the best QA resources I've ever had the pleasure to work with. The excuse was that Lab could use Ion's QA team in India. Management have since admitted that Ion, as a group, doesn't do QA very well. And of course, now none of the current Lab49 projects have any formal QA.

    And don't expect any training courses. You're expected to buy a book and do this yourself on the weekend. Apparently a few years ago, they did put on a Capital Markets course, but like the brainwashing sessions (sorry Town-hall meetings), these were in the evenings, mandatory, had a register and even had a test you had to pass.

    Also don't expect to have any say whatsoever as to what project you get put on.

    From what the old-timers say, a few years ago Lab49 in London employed almost 100 people. These days the number of software engineers is in single figures, and that includes the three new graduates hired last year. Unless something is done to turn things around very quickly, I'd be surprised if there's anyone left in London by the end of 2017.

    As soon as I can find another role outside The City, or one that doesn't need HR references, I'm out.

    Not a place I'd ever recommend to my friends.

    Advice to Management

    Stop annoying your employees. People who have been treated badly talk, particularly after a few beers and rumours spread. Soon everyone is planning to leave and there's no Lab49 left.

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Nice place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Lab49 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Meet some really smart people here who I still know today. Learnt a lot and had great fun. They paid well.

    Cons

    Being a consultancy you never know what gig you end up on so it can be touch and go, you either win or you loose. If you loose there isn't much you can do but try get reassigned.


  9. Helpful (8)

    "A shame to see the decline of a once highly regarded consultancy"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Delivery Manager in London, England
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Delivery Manager in London, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Lab49 full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    It took me some time to get around to writing a review, but sadly I have heard since that "Lab" has regressed and is now almost non-existent London, so I thought I would write an honest review of its history and evolution.

    Lab49 always had a reputation for doing very pretty and polished applications. Many well known finance industry milestones were in some way credited to Lab49. Unlike other companies, Lab49 shyed away from the cheaper off-shore model and kept high-value, usually reasonably context strong, coders in close proximity to their clients. It's a model that works for many, but sadly Lab49 has come a bit of cropper of late.

    I think Lab49 were one of the first consultancies to be considered "cool" in that it provided a nice environment, personal macs and free food. This has been replicated by everyone since, but back in 2006 when Lab49 were first doing it, this was a differentiator.

    Lab49 always worked with the new shiny tech and this push the market forward in places, but often meant implementations were far more complex than needed. Innovation is great, but evolve incrementally, not a the risk of projects and work-life-balance.

    Lab49 still have a decent reputation with some clients. If you can refresh the model to the changing environment, the abundance of competition and expectations for work-life-balance, then Lab49 could rock again!

    Cons

    The infighting and cliques in Lab49 are really responsible for it not succeeding as it could have. Changes at the very top with the first CEO being moved out, then other founders disappearing obviously caused instability. However, I think the right man was left at the helm and I believe that Lab's existence today is due to his energy and his often misunderstood desire to do the right thing.

    The leadership, reporting to the CEO really killed it. Team members were brutalised and spoken to in a shameful way, with protection only available by joining the clique of old friends who worked together at a previously unsuccessful consultancy. Programmes were structured poorly and ultimately set up to fail, this occurred whilst the C-Level leadership back-stabbed the CEO whilst anxiously trying to protect their own job. If they cut the ego and focussed on the team then there would have been less burn-out and more success.

    It's sad to see it decline, but I think it can easily get back to where it wants to be.

    Advice to Management

    Lots of changes have happened - great - so steady the ship. The market has moved on and your customers no longer have xxxM budgets. Take time to reflect non-arrogantly, then rebuild. Lab49 can be really great again.


  10. Helpful (11)

    "Not what it says"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    There are some very good people here, and there are some interesting projects on offer if you are lucky

    Cons

    Do not really live up to how they present themselves - really just a body shopping consultancy even though they sell themselves as something better

    Advice to Management

    Live up to what you are selling yourselves as - you could be much better.