Expat Essentials

Dispatches debut list: The 10 best companies to work for in Europe

(Correction: Due to reporter error, the first version of this post had incorrect information about SAP’s ratings. That error has been corrected.)

This is an unprecedented time for Europe, a time when many big employers in many countries are looking increasingly to highly skilled internationals to fill labor shortages.

Even countries with traditionally high unemployment such as Romania are struggling to train IT talent, coders and developers fast enough to keep up with demand from largely American companies with operations in Cluj and Bucharest.

Suddenly, working at a Google or an Amazon in Europe isn’t a dream  … the doors are wide open to those with the talents and visa status to apply.

We expect to get a lot of push back on this because working at the greatest company in the world can still mean dealing with a psychotic manager or co-worker. We’ve all been there. But these companies have stellar reputations for paying well, treating employees like family and giving people room to run, pitching new ideas and projects.

We’ve crowdsourced this and used tools such as confidential job ranking website Glassdoor and Great Place to Work to get a reasonably large sampling. (For those of you who scoff at how honest employees are on Glassdoor, we found some brutally honest assessment of companies posted on the site. Make of that what you will.)

Also, we talk with a lot of people across Europe and we hear the good, the bad and the ugly.

Methodology

We’re limiting this list to companies open to international talent and operations across Europe and where English is the dominant business language. Also, we’re going with large, international companies because the bigger the company, the more openings, and the more openings, the better chance you have of finding your dream job.

We also excluded companies such as restaurant/coffee chains (read Starbucks) where the majority of opportunities are in low-wage positions. (McDonalds, believe it or not, gets consistently high ratings in Europe as a place to work.)

We didn’t include companies that ranked well on Glassdoor or wherever, but were too new, small or obscure to find verifying data.

Finally, Amazon and some of the big accounting firms, which tend to pay well, but have “love it or you don’t” work environments, didn’t make it.

No. 1 Bain & Co.

You thought this was going to be Google or Apple, didn’t you? Admit it.

But Bain gets crazy high ratings from people fortunate enough to work there. And the Boston-based business consultancy has a reputation for snapping up the best and the brightest MBAs from the top American business schools including the Ivys, and top graduates from London School of Business, INSEAD and HEC Paris.

Bain has 55 offices in 36 countries. In Europe, the firm has 18 offices from Madrid to Moscow. Salaries in the UK for consultants can top 80,000 pounds.

Glassdoor ratings:

4.6 stars out of 5, the highest we saw.

95 percent of employees would recommend Bain to their friends, again, the highest we found.

“Great culture”
Current Employee – Senior Associate Consultant in London, England, 4 stars, 18 July, 2017
I have been working at Bain & Company full-time. (More than a year)

Pros

– Perks are great – lots of offsites, global trainings and opportunities to spend time with peers and build a great network of friends in the office
– Work is incredibly varied, in ~2 years have worked in multiple industries and each project is different
– The people are incredibly smart, diverse and fun. The culture in general is amazing!
– A lot of Managers / Partners really care about the juniors, they will … Show More

Cons

– Hours are long, often with heavy travel also which can be tough on the work-life balance
– Pay in London is significantly below other Bain offices and worse than salaries in other industries that Bainies are qualified for
– Flexibility options can be difficult to take, the options for transfers etc are there, but they are more difficult to take than recruiting sells it as
Advice to Management

Keep driving sustainability and increase the value proposition in London.

Job site: There are not a lot of positions open. Getting into Bain is more like joining an exclusive club. You’re either a good fit, or your not.

We did find this opening in Brussels for a General Knowledge Management Specialist.

No. 2 Google

Google has its major European operations in Zurich, Munich, London and Dublin. In Zurich alone, Google has 2,000 employees from 75 countries, with plans to expand to 5,000 people, the largest Google development center outside of the United States.

Like all the Silicon Valley companies, Google has a reputation for being a demanding, yet fulfilling, place to work.

Google offers employees free food, free gyms and fitness classes, free childcare and free shuttle buses to work. And obviously they can be damned picky about who makes the cut.

Glassdoor ratings:

4.4 stars out of 5

90 percent would recommend working at Google to a friend

“Great company to work for” – 14 Aug. 2017

Current Employee – Software Engineer in London, Englan

I have been working at Google full-time. (More than 5 years) 

Pros

– Great colleagues
– Great office with tasty food (free of charge!)
– Products that affect millions and billions of people

Con

– Easy to develop imposter syndrome

Job site: Google currently has at least 16 openings in just in Munich including one for a robotics software engineer. You can apply here.

No. 3 Expedia

This Bellevue, Washington-based spinoff from Microsoft didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Now the travel aggregator has 200-plus travel booking websites with 20,000 employees in about 75 countries including at least 1,400 people in London. And in London, Expedia is known as the “workers paradise,” even in the reliably lefty Independent!

From that post:

On our tour of Expedia’s offices, it was smiley faces all the way. “It’s amazing,” said web developer Taha Abdalla, 33, between ping pong rallies. “It’s awesome,” said senior mobile product manager Jane Roslyak, 33, “We laugh, like, all day.”

In 2016 AND 2017, Glassdoor anointed the tech company’s operations in London the best company to work, awarding it the Employees’ Choice award both years. You get the idea. Expedia scores a 4.3 out of 5 stars on the Expedia rankings, just behind Google.

Glassdoor ratings:

4.3 stars out of 5 stars

“Great environment and great people to work with”

Current Employee – Senior Database Developer in London, England, 4 stars, 5 Sept. 2017

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

Pros

Work life balance and benefits

Cons

Not enough training and slow career promotions

Advice to Management

Let talented people grow before they leave.

No. 4 SAP

This German mega-software giant, based in Waldorf, just south of Heidelberg, gets rave reviews from employees current and past, with 90 percent of current employees recommending it, according to Glassdoor.

It’s also one of the biggest employers in the world, with about 80,000 people.

SAP is ranked No. 15 on Business Insider’s  2017 list of the 50 best places in the US to work. Its’s also highly rated by Great Places to Work.

Glassdoor ratings

4.3 out of 5 stars

90 percent of employees would recommend SAP to a friend

“Great culture, smart people”

Current Employee – Program Manager, 5 stars, 8 Sept. 2017

I have been working at SAP full-time. (More than 10 years)

Pros

Good benefits, focus on career development, smart people with relatively little ego drama, flexible working

Cons

Not a lot of opportunities for career progression into management, complex processes due to being a massive corporate, hard to change things

Job site: SAP has an incredible number of jobs open across Europe, and about 2,000 around the world.

This senior solution sales executive office of the CFO position is open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, near Eindhoven. You can apply here.

No. 5 Salesforce

This is a company built around founder and CEO Marc Benioff, one of the most popular CEOs in the world. Sort of a corporate cult, but in a good way.

And it’s another U.S. tech company that went from zero to 100 seemingly overnight while creating customer relations software no one even knew they needed. Today, Salesforce has at least 30,000 employees globally.

Yes, it’s an aggressive culture with the monthly sales targets. But it has great products that make it easy to reach those goals, according to bulletin board and jobs sites.

Salesforce, based in San Francisco, has its Regional HQ in Lausanne covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It has major offices in London and Dublin.

Glass door ratings:

4.2 stars out of 5

85 percent of employees would recommend working at Salesforce to friends.

“What a place to work!”, 4 stars, Current Employee – Employee Success in Staines, England 

Pros

– Constant communication so you are aware of all of the new and exciting things that are happening across the business
– Endless, amazing volunteering opportunities to give back to the community – 56 hours a year!
– Colleagues across the business listen and are interested in advising in terms of career development
– Lots of opportunity to learn and develop knowledge through seminars, round tables and lunches 

Cons

– Some teams don’t practice all of the values of Salesforce, they only focus in on a couple – transparency is one that I feel needs to be developed more
– London and Staines are very separate entities. By bringing more seminars and events to Staines, it will enrich the culture and lay some of the pressure off of the work space issue in London

Advice to Management

– All teams embody all of the values Salesforce is built on
– Managers to commit to engaging with employees regularly (1:1’s) – some of these are missed or moved out for weeks on end, which can be demotivating.

Job site: Here’s a Account Executive Mid-Market Retail France position just posted for Paris. You can apply here.

No. 6 Brown-Forman

You know its products such as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. But we’re guessing you’ve never heard of the parent company.

This Louisville, Ky-based global spirits company has only a small presence in Europe including about 40 people at its Europe HQ in Amsterdam.

In Europe, the company has about 1,000 employees, mostly marketers and brand managers, and the company hires lots of different nationalities based on merit, not home-country quotas.

Even though it’s a relatively small company, we’re including it because everyone we’ve known who’s worked there loved it and it’s expanding in Europe.

We have many friends still at Brown-Forman who have remained for years because it’s a great place to work. The headquarters in Louisville has its own first-rate restaurant for employees. And come on, they freakin’ make and market booze. How bad could that be?

But here’s really why we’re telling you about BF. This is a company that makes very strategic acquisitions. For instance, last year, Brown-Forman acquired The BenRiach Distillery Company Limited in Scotland for 285 million pounds, getting a 165-person workforce in the bargain.

Look for more opportunities through acquisitions.

GlassDoor ratings:

4.2 stars out of 5

83 percent would recommend Brown-Forman to a friend.

“Marketing Manager” – 13 July, 2017

Current Employee – Marketing Manager in London, England

I have been working at Brown-Forman full-time. (More than a year)

Pros – Great People – Great Products

Cons – Imported Goods from the USA

Advice to Management

Keep doing what you’re doing.

Job site: Brown-Forman has 11 positions opened in Europe including two in Paris. This senior key account manager position is in Paris. You can apply here.

No. 7 Mars

This was a shocker. This McLean, Va.-based (Washington, DC) food company, famous for candy bars, M&Ms and chewing gum, is privately held and a force in conservative U.S. politics. Yet Mars is wildly popular with the people who work there. Who knew ….

AND who knew the company has about 20,000 employees out of a total of 80,000 in Europe, with its European headquarters in Brussels and operations/offices in Germany, Belgium and the UK?

Mars pays well and give employees a lot of latitude, according to all the sources we checked. But it is a closely held company, owned by the Mars family. So there’s not as much info available as there is about the rest of our list … all publicly traded multinationals.

Glassdoor ratings:

Four stars out of five

78 percent of employees would recommend working at Mars to a friend

“The best in class”
Former Employee – Financial Controller in Slough, Berkshire, South East England, England, 4 stars, 9 Sept. 2017
I worked at Mars full-time. (More than 5 years)

Pros

Focused. Well Run. Growth oriented. Good career potential.

Cons

Not publicly listed. Can be insular.

Advice to Management

Just keep going.

Jobs site: Mars has a couple of hundred openings across Europe. Their interactive map is pretty cool. Just click on a georgraphic location, and all the jobs pop up. Click on each title, and you get the full job description.

Currently Mars has an opening in London for a Demand Forecast Analyst. You can see details and apply here.

No. 8 Philips

Philips, which started in Eindhoven 120-plus years ago making lightbulbs, is now one of the largest companies in the world. It has several different divisions, with its headquarters in Amsterdam.

Eindhoven-based Philips Healthcare is the part of the larger company with which we’re most familiar.

Full disclosure; Philips doesn’t make it on pure rankings. There are lots of companies ranked ahead of it. BUT, we’ve met so many people – mostly engineers and researchers – who work for, or who have worked for, Philips and we’ve never heard anything bad.

Which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Because even the best places to work have their drawbacks. Think Apple, think Google.

But Philips has a diverse workforce drawn from global talent. And so many companies including Shapeways, ASML and Sapiens have come out of Philips, beginning as internal projects, then getting funded by the parent company.

Also, the company works with universities including MIT and Technical University of Eindhoven to accelerate projects and boost the local ecosystems.

THAT’S cool ….

Glass Door ratings:

3.8 stars out of 5

82 percent would recommend working there to a friend (in the Netherlands)

“Meaningful work, great balance” (5 stars out of 5) 6 Sept. 2017

Former Employee – BG Strategy and Business Transformation in Amsterdam (Netherlands)

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

Pros

Great work-life balance
Clear vision and commitment of the company/ business

Cons

Complexity in organization setup
People may not do real work while have a pretty good life and career in the organization due to unclear visibility of everyone’s accountability.

Job site: Philips has hundreds of opening across Europe … at least 400. Your best bet to get the details is on LinkedIn. The careers page on the Philips website is good, if not terribly intuitive.

There is an opening for a senior cloud dev/ops developer that was just posted (4 Sept.) in Eindhoven, Dispatches HQ. You can apply here.

No. 9 Cisco Systems

Another high-tech company from the The Valley with a reputation as a great place to work, at least for a while.

Cisco Systems gets a 3.9 out of 5 stars rating on Glassdoor, and 80 percent of employees would recommend it to a friend. But it’s also rated as a high-burnout environment because it’s an incredibly big company, and competition is growing.

Cisco, based in San Jose, has about 80,000 employees, and about half work outside the U.S. The Europe HQ is Amsterdam while the Cisco Security Operation Center is in Krakow.

From Glassdoor:

“Amazing opportunity to learn and develop. Perfect for young people looking to start a career.”

Current Employee – Apprentice in Reading, England, 4 stars, 3 Sept. 2017

I have been working at Cisco Systems full-time. (More than 3 years)

Pros

Friendly and caring and a deep understanding of corporate social responsibility make this a fantastic place to start a career for a young person.

Cons

I honestly haven’t found anything that I would call a con of working here. There is a fantastic culture in the company to support people which can make even the youngest worker, like myself, feel perfectly at home here.

Job site: Cisco has jobs from Spain to Sweden. Currently, they need a cloud consultant in Stockholm. You can apply here.

No. 10 Medtronic

Healthcare tech giant Medtronic, based in Minneapolis, has about 6,000 employees in Europe including in the Netherlands and its headquarters in Switzerland.

In the U.S., Medtronic scores well with employees, with 91 percent rating their work there as important. The company also pays well, with average annual pay in the United States more than $90,000, or about 75,000 euros.

Glass Door ratings:

3.6 stars out of 5

72 percent would recommend working there to a friend

“Great company, many opportunities.”

Former Employee – Sales in Manchester, England, 4 stars, 30 June 2017

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

Pros

Good work ethic, good people mostly, always the odd one that slips through but Medtronic HR are very good at dealing with issues.

Cons

I can’t think of any.
I worked there some years ago for several years. I made the mistake of leaving as I’m in an awful company now. HR were fantastic not like my current employer. I have since advised other colleagues to join Medtronic and they have and been very happy.

Advice to Management

I had no issues with management.
When there were some management issues e.g. Bullying, HR dealt with it and the culprits went !!!! Impressive. I just wish other companies could be professional like this.

Jobs site:

Medtronic currently has 76 openings in the Netherlands alone including this one for an IT Business Systems Analyst.

Bonus: Nike

The Beaverton, Oregon-based tennis shoe/sportswear company has its EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) headquarter in Hilversum, southeast of Amsterdam. The complex includes sports facilities (tennis courts, basketball courts, running track and gym) and an employee store selling Nike goods at a large discount.

It has a very international atmosphere with 2,000 employees made up from some 70 nationalities.

Glassdoor ratings:

N/A

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