From Kansas City — 05/13/2008
Disclaimers: I worked primarily as a consultant with Cerner, based from my home and traveling 70-90 percent of the time to clients. I WAS YOUNG AND WAS EXCITED TO TRAVEL.
Pay: Like others on the site, I took this job after graduating college. I was thrilled to find a job during the dot-com slowdown, especially one with a tech-based company, consulting based remotely and TRAVELING, all for what I considered a generous salary. (That is until I moved to a proper city, and I realized the salary was not very good at all.)
Respect: This was a tough one to score. Nearly ALL my managers and direct supervisors were GREAT. They were the best group with which to travel, work and learn. Out of the 5 managers I had with Cerner, 3 of them were of the highest quality and I cannot compliment their respect and knowledge enough.
However, Cerner's CEO Neal Patterson sent the now infamous "pizza email" with its threatening, finger-pointing, and downright angry intentions. Plus, when I first witnessed a live presentation from Mr. Patterson (a first for MANY of those in attendance I might add), he browbeat and humiliated an employee for supposedly losing a sale. This was in front of AT LEAST 500 employees, done during a conference intended in part to recognize employee efforts. It was a tasteless, classless, arrogant act, and one that I WILL NEVER FORGET.
(*A couple side notes here...
I largely enjoyed my experiences with most Cerner executives, apart from those mentioned with Mr. Patterson above. Of the 3 other executives I interacted with at length, I would rate 2 of them very highly.
Cerner's executives make LOADS of money. Even for a top 500 company, their executive compensation is very high. Also, Mr Patterson was Chairman of the Board for a very long time; but I'm not sure if he still is. Executive pay and conflict of interest should be noted in ANY evaluation of a large company and your decision to consider them as a long term investment, work-wise or otherwise.)
Benefits: Industry standard I suppose. Never had to use the health coverage, so can't comment (I kept my options low). The campus in KC is very nice, with some high-end options like a fitness center and clinic, so I'll score them a bit up on 'appearance' only.
Job Security: Just before I left, Cerner had forced a number of positions to relocate to Kansas City. I understand from several people that this initiative was not well handled. Fair enough the business case I suppose, but I must mark them down for it.
Work/Life Balance: Hey, it's a software company, despite what anybody tells you differently. And as such, you're going to have to work hard to build and deliver the product, especially when you consider the complexities and difficulties of healthcare. When you look from a different side or different industry, you realize quickly that Cerner is a place where you must work comparatively hard (often long AND crazy hours) to get the job done. And that's what counts...getting the job done.
Career Potential: Maybe slightly above average. I saw many good people move up and improve their compensation. I also saw A LOT of good people leave. Very very little training or conversation is offered in terms of 'career' growth outside of Cerner-related topics or disciplines. All in all though, I learned a ton in terms of project management and enterprise technology systems during my time there.
Location: Kansas City, MO
Co-worker Competence: I had a good experience. But I did experience some marginal quality on rare occasions, and chief leadership has its issues (see above). Collectively, Cerner is a great group of smart people.
Work Environment: Worked virtually-
In summary, if you're young, willing to work hard and have limited options, Cerner pays quite well and offers access to some great enterprise technology or wide range of roles. If you're more experienced, can step-in and run a business 'by-the-numbers', generally not care about high burn-out rates, ignore certain ailments while 'proving your worth' to grow the bottom line, and want your executives on MONSTROUS PAY PACKAGES, Cerner is a good place to interview. Otherwise, you may want to reconsider.