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System1 Group Reviews

Updated 9 September 2018
26 reviews

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2.8
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System1 Group Chief Juicer & Founder John Kearon
John Kearon
13 Ratings

26 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    "Green Grass"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY (US)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY (US)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at System1 Group full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Innovative approaches and tons of implicit trust in staff. People are free to work their own hours in their own environment as long as the work is getting done. Generous benefits and 5 weeks of vacation per year. Recent changes are opening up room for a revived culture. Young employees are given tons of opportunities to take the lead on projects, interact with clients, and participate in industry events.

    Cons

    Had a poor fiscal year in 2017/18 which led to an obsession with "the numbers" and subsequently not enough focus on the people. Management has acknowledged this and is actively trying to turn things around. It's not an easy task, but there is definitely commitment from many to get there.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on people. The numbers will follow.


  2. "Good workplace gone bad - emotion applies to client work but not how they treat their own people"

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

    I worked at System1 Group full-time

    Pros

    Good methodologies that make sense and work. Casual office environment. Ability to work from home. Good perks like extra days off at Christmas, paid sabbatical after 6 years, health insurance etc. Free snacks. London office well located, bright and airy. Work life balance is pretty good. Some excellent support teams - Ops, Legal, Finance

    Cons

    Threw out a brand that clients and staff loved and changed it to something that is dull and very 'system 2'. With the name change came a series of terrible decisions, from restructuring around 3 practices to getting rid of some amazing people. The consequences have been catastrophic. Over 50% of the UK account team have left in the last year. Senior management totally lost sight that the people make the business.
    Restructuring into 3 practices was meant to bring business efficiencies but it has done nothing of the sort and instead created a disjointed client experience and limited variety and skills built by staff, most of whom have since left or are planning to.
    Some of the people put in leadership positions have no leadership skills and have created disorganised, messy and uninspiring teams. Until this is sorted out, people will keep leaving.
    Overall it just feels like it has lost its way. The situation has gotten so desperate that a panic has set in so people can now be promoted (deserved or not) or get huge pay rises just by threatening to leave.
    HR function impotent - purely administrative, despite all the problems they have done nothing to help, staff don't know what they do or why they exist

    Advice to Management

    Ensure ALL team leaders have the right skills to actually lead, if not then move them elsewhere or out to avoid creating chaos and long term damage.
    Staff have lost faith in the business, I suggest bringing in some serious outside help to reorganise and reinspire the teams.
    You're all about emotion and behavioural economics but those principles fly out the window when it comes to how you treat your own staff - why!? Fix that. Make staff feel valued then they will actually want to stay there and do a good job (i.e. BE 101).
    The System1 brand and everything that has happened since the rebrand has been so toxic that I think the best remedy would be to change your name back and get rid of the practice structure, don't be afraid to admit it has failed (look at the numbers and what's happened to staff satisfaction levels!). Aim for a fresh start with some truly caring and talented people leaders at the helm to halt the downward spiral.

  3. "Thinking of working at System1 - don't."

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

    I worked at System1 Group full-time

    Pros

    They have a small group of knowledgeable experts who are up to date on Behavioural Economics.

    Cons

    Bully culture - CEO can be a bully and this negative role modelling filters down.
    If you want no say and want to be micromanaged, this is the place for you.
    If you want to be treated as an adult - work somewhere else.
    Totally out of date and out of touch with market reality - not at all innovative.
    Arrogant attitude towards clients - dismissive of their genuine concerns.
    David Brent would be embarrassed by the management.

    Advice to Management

    Treat people like adults.


  4. Helpful (4)

    "Sinking ship"

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

    I worked at System1 Group full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    progression assured regardless of talent. Everyone is leaving so they need to keep people somehow.

    Cons

    Lots of people covering for their lack of experience and talent. They cover by asserting their opinions.
    No innovation dispite the 'most innovative' title. They have been left behind, stuck in their ways, not open to new tech or opportunities.
    Bully and cliche culture with many decisions made before consultation.
    Unhappy workforce largely due to the lack of responsibility taken by senior management decisions. That, and their endless hours and lack of impact with clients.
    Use redundancy as a form of performance review. They will make people redundant that they don't feel are performing, then re-hire into the position a month later.
    Internal training is non-existant. You have to make a business case to be trained to do your job.
    Wants to believe they are a 'big company' so badly they forgot what's good about being small. No culture to speak of, stupid buzzwords instead. They had a culture and killed it

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your upset staff. They have reason to be upset with you, you are heading them down a path a lot of them haven't wanted to go. Accept that the downturn is LARGELY your fault
    Partner with innovative firms to help better make solutions. You can be the world's best camera film manufactuer, but camera phones now do the job.
    Value people who care about you. Some people would've died for you, but you cast them out too quickly without thinking how it would affect everyone else. We were a family, you need to build that again.
    Train your staff. All of them, without question


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Not great at the moment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY (US)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY (US)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at System1 Group full-time

    Pros

    Some nice people, able to work from home on Fridays

    Cons

    While there was positivity and good work happening years ago, the company has degraded into quite a mess. Looking around the office, no one is happy or motivated, and the culture is pretty bleak. It is difficult to find inspiration or purpose, because the overall vibe in the office is so poor, and most people are looking to leave.

    While there are some more junior managers who really care about their employees, in the US, the top level management is very young, lacking experience in effectively running a business. Management has been making some pretty serious mistakes and misjudgments, meaning that the company as a whole is not doing well, which further brings down morale. There is no support from upper level management for ideas that come from the actual employees who do the work, and instead all policies and procedures are pushed down from the top, meaning that the way that the company is run is very out of touch with client needs.

    While the company sells itself by being the "most innovative" market research firm, the core of their methodologies haven't changed for 20 years, and there is little investment being put into doing anything truly new or cutting-edge. Instead, change is happening in the form of marginal improvements, and as a result System1 is struggling and failing to keep up in a rapidly changing industry.

    With a lack of a positive culture, effective management, and innovative products, all of the good employees are looking to leave, and the company feels like a sinking ship.

    Advice to Management

    Overall, bring in some experts to advise you on how to save the sinking ship. You are going to need some outside opinions from people with more expertise. Otherwise:

    1. Come up with methodologies and products that are actually innovative and new, and try to adapt to the changing industry landscape - you need to improve your technology, invest in behavioral data, and move into the digital space, among other things

    2. Listen to the employees at the bottom who are actually doing the work rather than pushing out misguided policies. The people who are talking with clients every day and running the projects might actually have some good ideas about what clients need and want and what improvements should be made

    3. Make the work feel more purposeful and give employees a reason to come to work everyday. Old worn out phrases like "profitable growth, guaranteed" frankly sound like they're coming from a used car salesman and do not give anyone a sense of purpose or motivation


  6. "Challenging year but conditions definitely improving"

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

    I have been working at System1 Group full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Great emphasis on work life balance (despite a few grumbles) this is definitely better than most other research agencies in the UK & London
    - Research offering really is market leading in some areas (particularly innovation)
    - Visionary founder and board room presence very much available (and happy) to discuss concerns
    - Brilliant, brilliant clients who are really invested in our thinking, reinforces confidence in our tools
    - Not afraid to invest in people's development

    Cons

    - The disconnect between US based senior management ignores UK market conditions and behavior (can't hard sell as much - it doesn't work!)
    - Directors are seemingly protected from any accountability and a select few contribute very little to accounts (delivery and growth)
    - Socials are definitely less frequent

    Advice to Management

    - More opportunities for 360 reviews with free-riding directors
    - More faith in the UK team to make judgement calls on new business method


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Interesting projects, great people, but poor motivation from management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at System1 Group full-time

    Pros

    Great, smart people. Unique and innovative approach to market research and brand building. Work on a variety of projects ranging from ad testing, brand tracking, new product development, to pack testing.

    Cons

    Struggling company culture, low morale, ineffective management

    Advice to Management

    Invest in your employees' career growth as much as you invest in the growth of the company, especially at the research associate level. Without clear motivation and continued training, you're poised to lose a talented group of people.

  8. "System1 is a great place to work!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY (US)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY (US)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at System1 Group full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Very fun group of smart and caring people. Although there are challenges, everyone works very hard to overcome them. Always pushing to be on the cutting edge of behavioral economics and research. Opportunities are available for upward movement, although you must advocate for yourself.

    Cons

    When business gets busy, work-life balance sometimes suffers.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Lost their identity"

    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 System1 Group full-time

    Pros

    Great people although lots leaving due to changes

    Cons

    Management manage change and communication of change poorly


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Innovative environment but clueless in terms of direction"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Consultant in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Research Consultant in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at System1 Group full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    The atmosphere is great; people want to be innovative and the whole behavioural economic philosophy brings a great positive spirit and it's super cool to be a part of this bubble.
    Some of the brightest and nicest people work there and people keep working there for years and years; main reason people stay I think is because of the people.
    Nice 'lunch and learn' sessions; cool marketing activities; webinars; book club.
    Possibility to move across offices - they create opportunities for people who work very hard.
    No result deck goes out if it's not 'juicy' which gives you the feeling you're really delivering exciting stuff in the world.
    Marketing is truly amazing; they make the company look like the size of Milward Brown or Ipsos (while there are only about 150 actual 'juicers' across the globe!).
    Team meetings are always set in a positive way; there is a big focus on training and everyone can be a line manager. Teams are supposedly flat, but you get exposed to 'managing' someone early on.
    There's a grad scheme that works well; bright and good people get hired and given an opportunity.
    There are company meetings where you sometimes travel abroad for meeting the continental teams.
    In summer there's 'summer time', meaning on Friday the aim is to stop working earlier. (While in winter it is busier and working normal hours)

    Cons

    BrainJuicer seems to have lost track a little of where they are going and who they want to be; first it's a full service agency, then it's boutique, then it needs to compete with Milward Brown (they are obsessed with them); then they introduce a new tool without even validating it. Or the Labs team (which is a bunch of guys [no women allowed?], mainly older 'sigar-smoking-gentlemen' types who get paid 5-6 times the salary of an associate) introduce a tool to clients in an external webinar without having trained the research teams. They want to be 'super juicy' whilst the executive board is focusing on selling tracking research for which the processes are not set up well and although sold a lot the general consensus is that it's a pain to work on.
    Building on previous point; although saying the structure is flat and you are indeed able to walk up to the more senior people - decisions and ways of working are very hierarchical. Everyone can line manage someone but it makes it unnecessarily layered.
    Another point is that even though a lot of people tend to stay at BrainJuicer long; there's also an idea of promoting people just for the sake that they're there for a long time and sometimes no opportunity to grow as there are too many seniors already.
    There is supposedly a bonus system that explains the lower base salary. You can potentially get up to 20% although this doesn't happen easily and even though your team might hit their target and you worked every night and weekends for a month, it still depends on how the whole company is doing.
    Finally, although priding themselves with being international; in the London office most people are British and from a particular background. There seem to be some cliques of friends (throughout levels) and to get something done you need to be part of the inner circle (or be an older man).

    To finish - BrainJuicer is definitely a cool place to work: lots to learn, lots to experience; however beware of getting stuck in the BrainJuicer bubble and thinking you know better than other companies; there's a reason other companies grow faster and grow year on year and why so many people leave (turnover is high).

    Advice to Management

    Throw out people who are not good for the company or good for the future of the company. Honestly, BrainJuicer has SO MUCH potential. Don't throw it away by having tunnel vision; spend your money on the right things (a dance floor, really?). Grow your people (that’s the only reason it even works!) and actually REALLY listen to what they have to say; be open for criticism. Finally; only hire passionate people and get rid of those that don't care (because they are there).


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