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SAS Named Best Company To Work For In 2010 183

Posted by kdawson
from the must-like-north-carolina dept.
theodp writes "If you're in the market for a new job, Fortune has just published its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2010. Topping the list this year is SAS (SAS jobs), the largest privately held software company, which Fortune notes is populated with more statisticians than engineers or MBAs, and led by a Ph.D. founder whose first love is programming. Google (jobs), which once viewed SAS as model for employee perks, took the #4 spot, and Microsoft (jobs) checked in at #51."
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SAS Named Best Company To Work For In 2010

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  • What a joke... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skreems (598317) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:36PM (#30885562) Homepage
    Microsoft made the list, but Amazon didn't? I and a bunch of other Microsofties who've jumped ship in the past couple years would all strongly disagree.
  • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:37PM (#30885566)

    I was Mobil employee (pre Exxon merger days). Probably one of the best companies I have ever worked for. Progressive work environment, friendly people, ideas were treated with respect, and about as diverse friendly as you can get. They did everything right, but were bought out by Exxon. I've never seen such an about turn in such a short amount of time. It was much like I imagine going from a free country to the iron heel of some repressive regime.

    Obviously if your a fortune 500 company, there must be a way to meld a happy work environment with a profitable one? Why isn't this more the rule than the exception?

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:40PM (#30885586)

    The bigger joke is SAS - as someone who has programmed in many, many languages it must have the absolute worst syntax/design of any computing language I know... in what other language does x=y actually mean y=x in some contexts????

  • True (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:40PM (#30885588)

    YMMV, but having previously worked for both Google and SAS I can attest to both being wonderful working environments. A good working environment and having motivated people in your office really lifts general mood and ambition.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:43PM (#30885622)

    Its the pager. Its a killer. The majority of amazon hires quit in under 2 years, because of the damn thing. Add in the fact that some underhanded teams don't mention it up front (many do, but I knew many people who didn't find out about pager requirements until after they hired on) and it doesn't belong on the list. If they got rid of the damn things it would go by the top.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:52PM (#30885712)

    The Special Air Service is part of the armed forces.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:16AM (#30885880)
    It's not so much that it has bad syntax, as that its syntax seems to have developed completely independent of any other computer language, and concerns itself with a very different domain of problems. Most of the functions automatically apply to a whole recordset at once, so you can be amazing concise in program certain algorithms... but if you try to write them like you would in any other language, you'll create a miserable mess. It's hard for a 'normal' programmer to wrap their head around, because even the most basic structures are different.

    If SAS had been the only language you programmed in, it would probably make a lot more sense.
  • Culture of SAS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Theswager (1455957) on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:22AM (#30885906)
    As someone who lives about 1 mile away from SAS, knows lots of people who work there, and has talked to a lot of local business owners about SAS, and has eaten in their 'cafeteria'(gourmet restaurant for employees). SAS is an amazing place to work. At the same time many of the people who work there are not motivated like people in places like Google or other silicon valley type companies. SAS has a few cash cow products that they maintain and beyond that there is not much innovation. Jim Goodnight is a control freak about what the company does and is surrounded by 'yes men' executives. Many people who start to work there never leave and it functions as a self sustaining source of money with low work hours for all involved. That being said I do like the statistics software from them that I have used(JMP)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:25AM (#30885924)

    I have worked for several companies over the years. The best job I have ever had is with my current employer. Why? They are a "private" company. Note SAS is a "private" company. Huge public companies are always a slave to earnings and pleasing shareholders. Thats why a company like Intel can show record profits or increases and yet they lay off 5,000 people. The moral of the story. Try getting a job with a good private company.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by VernorVinge (1420843) on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:52AM (#30886102)
    I worked at Amazon for three years. While my colleagues was great, there were no perks like company paid day care or even arcade machines like the .com's of yore. Most new hires are gone within 2 years. My own department had 80% turnover.
  • Re:mmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by conureman (748753) on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:14AM (#30886254)

    Maybe so, but I troll the mods like that ALL the time. It's my new hobby.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bangzilla (534214) on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:27AM (#30886340) Journal
    "The majority of amazon hires quit in under 2 years"
    Bullshit. From where are you getting your data? Yes - Amazonians carry pagers when they are on call. Amazon engineers stand behind their code and their site and don't farm it off to teams in India or China like other companies.
  • Re:Where's Apple? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:48AM (#30886490)

    In fact, Apple might be in the worst 100 companies to work for. It is particularly known for treating its employees badly.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ottothecow (600101) <ottothecowNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:56AM (#30886530) Homepage
    Is that what this is mostly based on? It seems that way because I notice a lot the firms that made it (and keep making it) are companies known for long hours and high stress.

    Goldman Sachs shows up there, lists the most common job as an analyst with about $120k a year in pay. The people I know who went off to work in investment banking are not exactly what I would call happy. They are getting a pile of money, a solid resume, and a ticket to a top business school...but most of them are not planning to return after grad school. There are other finance/Big 4/mgmt. consulting firms on there that have the same sort of characteristics--strong pay and benefits but consistent 80+ hour weeks of stress and deadlines.

    I just don't understand how they make it to the top of the list along with companies like SAS or Google (I've heard long hours...but you get a lot of special perks and a lot of time for your own projects). Are they paying their employees to write good reviews? Are these done like college rankings where you get a boost just for being the company that everyone applies to just to get rejected?

  • Re:Where's Apple? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:01AM (#30886546) Journal
    The rumors I hear around is that Apple is a hard company to work for. Long hours, late nights, working weekends.....it's not easy. The people who work there really love the products, so they are willing to put up with it.

    I don't know if that is true or not, but those are the rumors I hear.
  • Re:What a joke... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Skreems (598317) on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:06AM (#30886576) Homepage
    Actually a lot of groups have spun up first-tier support teams in the past couple years, which include support staff in India. So if you can write up some simple rules to follow in the event of a page, routine stuff doesn't even come to the devs, only the unexpected stuff does. From what I understand, this is almost exactly the way Google does it too.

    It's the same way at some teams inside Microsoft, only less formalized so you don't get everyone sharing the pain, only a 'select few' who get volunteered by management.
  • Rubish (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:08AM (#30886904)

    At SAS - yes I work there - we grew our business every year for the last thirty years. Please explain to me how we were able to do this without innovation. We also put more money back into R&D than any other IT vendor that I am aware of.

    We now offer a range of targeted solution, campaign management, telco retention, supply management you name it that allows to rapidily employ our analytical engine (BTW fully Grid enabled if you wish) to specific business problems.

    Goes to show that just because you ate in our cafeteria doesn't mean you understand what we are selling these days.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday January 25, 2010 @04:39AM (#30887396)

    It should have said:
    "If you're in the market for a new job in the US, Fortune has just published its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2010 in the US.

    On their own website, SAS admit this is only valid in the US.
    http://www.sas.com/jobs/corporate/index.html [sas.com]

    I wonder how many holidays US-employees get, how flexible their hours are, how good their coffee is and how much they get paid.

  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Monday January 25, 2010 @05:06AM (#30887524)

    As soon as an organisation reaches a certain size you have a fair share number of people whose live is basically trying to get up the foodchain by all legal means instead of working for a common goal, and those end up in middle and upper management but as soon as they are there they do not change their ways but try to fortify their position by making everyone elses life miserable.
    I have seen that several times. Corporations are so often higher up entrenched with internal intrique and politics that it feels like hell down the foodchain. One thing btw. why I personally think that the US economy is doomed, US corporations are so entrenched with infighting within itself and against each other (the Microsoft, Google, Apple triangle currently is a prime example as well as the patent trolls) that they forget entirely about a common goal and that others are there as well. The classical example in history is the western roman empire which fell mainly because at a time of crisis they were not able to stop the infighting for the top of the foodchain but presumed and in the end the strongest won, but with the price of being reduce to parts of italy. It would have come different if they worked for a common goal instead of trying to outarmy each other!

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Monday January 25, 2010 @05:46AM (#30887676)

    From working there 2 years ago. Next time at the company meeting when they say all the new hires stand up and you see a room full of standers- that isn't company growth. Those are mainly replacements. Or use the old fart tool (I assume it was still around)- within a month or so of my 2 year anniversary I was ranked at 54%- 46% of the company had been hired after me.

    Part of that also has to do with the company's salary system- a large bonus payable on sign up and on 1 year anniversary with a 1 year vesting period after payout for each. Many people quit as soon as the first is earned, and another big chunk after the 2nd. Probably easier psychologically to give up stock you don't have yet than to pay back money you do.

  • Re:What a joke... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Monday January 25, 2010 @06:22AM (#30887858)

    If a doctor is on call, he gets paid. Same for a nurse, an electrician, and every other profession. Amazon pays decently, but not well enough that the pager duty is accounted for.

    The idea of pager as PITA just doesn't work. First off, most developers (especially good ones) are going to do it right through professional pride. Secondly, you may or may not be allocated time to do so. Third, I got far more pages from network glitches, user errors, and hardware problems than I ever did from my bugs. Fourth, our systems aren't isolated, other groups can cause pager issues for you. On my team, a decision by another team to include a reorder data feature meant that our service had to allow it too- but that wasn't always possible in our system, so if the customer used it and that caused us to go into an invalid state, we'd get paged. We then had to psychically guess whether the customer would prefer us to cut out illegal commands (possibly losing their data) or reorder the things back. Generally we just paged out to the sales people to ask them. And they wouldn't bother waking up to answer the page, so it was handled next day anyway. That little bug took over 2 years to get the other group to add a confirm feature that asked our service if it was ok to do the reorder before doing it.

    Oh and fifth- it actually gave you incentive not to monitor your service well. Fewer pages. Unless you're a professional and did it anyway, in which case the pager was unnecessary to begin with. Which is probably why no other company does it this way. I've only ever heard of one other company requiring pagers, and they had a massive ops team that took the first crack at pages and all operations work.

    No, they tell you that's the idea of the pager, but it really isn't. The idea of the pager is to save money by not hiring qualified ops people. It probably saves them a few million a year. And all of the short term costs are external, carried by the employee. The company loses out long term, but not in any way that shows up on a balance sheet, so they don't really care.

  • Re:Rubish (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @10:25AM (#30889522)

    One of the hardest things I ever did was to quit SAS. The culture was amazing. From the day I started, I likened it to a college campus. The benefits were great, although some of them (such as subsidized childcare) could be difficult to get without years of tenure.

    However, I was not in R&D, sales, etc. I worked in IT supporting their financial management software. Of course, it didn't help that they were using software from a big competitor in certain markets, headed up by an egomaniac whom Goodnight detests in the worst possible way.

    My department was viewed with a lot of suspicion by other groups at SAS for that reason, among others. Working in that group was known to be a dead end job. Yeah, you might go from App Dev 2 to App Dev 3 or 4, but that was it. There was little chance for true promotion or even lateral movement into another position with higher ceiling. The department underwent no less than 5 re-orgs in the 3 years I was there, none of which did anything to help my group. In the end, I left SAS to further my career, broaden my horizons and increase my paycheck (by over 20%).

    I really wish I could have my current job (duties, responsibilities, etc.) at my former employer!

    Posting AC for personal/professional reasons.

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