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Sunday, June 10, 2012
Ansaldo Employee: Focus is Entirely on Gaining a Project, Not on Doing Anything Useful
By John Bond @ 2:56 PM :: 9214 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment

"Even many rail supporters are baffled by the city's apparent fixation on Ansaldo from the start and dogged support for the company as reports have mounted about questionable performance and turmoil in the home office."  -  David Shapiro, Volcanic Ash

by John Bond

Ansaldo Honolulu Joint Venture (consortium comprising Ansaldo STS and AnsaldoBreda), holds the contract for design, construction, operation and maintenance of the Honolulu rail which will be around 32 kilometers long and have 21 stations. Ansaldo STS' share of the deal comes to USD 1,136 million and that of AnsaldoBreda to USD 198 million.

But employee comments found online from people who work at Ansaldo STS USA underline concerns about Ansaldo’s rail bid and the company’s viability.  Here is a sampling:

Ansaldo STS USA Project Management Department (Current Employee) "Sinking Ship"

Pros: Free Parking but as with every other "perk" will be taken away.  Morale is low, employees extremely overworked, no support or direction, no resources. All that matters is the bottom line and fixing the books to reach the goal.

Advice to Senior Management:  Hire a CEO and upper management that understands the business and how projects are run.   Employees do not even like coming to work anymore.


Ansaldo STS USA: “Not the Best

Poor Sales/Marketing strategy. The emphasis seems to be to win the projects, instead of making money on the projects. Most projects start out from behind, almost assured of losing money. This leads the management to feel the need to cut engineering costs, which results in staff reductions every couple of years. Work place is very unstable, with low morale.


Ansaldo STS USA: “Rose Colored Glasses

too many chiefs not enough Indians. Morale is at its worst. VP Eng has click of people who get promoted-obvious to everyone. Money is wasted but employees have to fight for office supplies.  Upper management knows nothing about the industry and keep spinning the wheel on process and procedures.


Ansaldo STS USA: “Stay Away

Employee benefits are being cut on a regular basis and without notice.  Layoffs may occur at any time. There is no vision or mission being communicated to the engineering staff. Key engineers are leaving the company and recruiting is becoming more difficult because of the negative reputation of senior management.

Advice to Senior Management: Think before you speak or act. You cannot run this company profitably if the employees hate you.  The actions being taken make the long term viability of this company’s questionable. Even the validity of 2009 "turn around" seems to be more of accounting game than projects becoming more profitable or running the company more efficiently.


Ansaldo STS USA: “Negative Environment

Unfortunately the positive team dynamic has been undermined by capricious management decisions that have destroyed trust and shattered morale. It is no longer a fun place to work; the environment is negative and toxic. Good employees were laid off when projects were already short on resources. In the last year, we got pitiful PTO, mandatory unpaid overtime, holidays revoked, pay freezes, and no bonuses. New executives are added and moved around on an ongoing basis with no attempt to explain the value they add.

The cost-cutting measures are generally perceived as cynical and self-serving when none of the fundamental issues with how we bid, plan and execute projects have been addressed.


Ansaldo STS USA: Helplessly watching a good company going over the cliff

Low morale caused by clueless management. Best illustrated by actual comments overheard in the hallway:

"Every day when I come in I think the stress level can't possibly get any higher, and every day I'm wrong."

"I used to love working here. I couldn't wait to come in every morning. Now I have to force myself to go to work."

"I've worked here for 10 (or 15, 20, etc.) years, and I never thought I would quit, but I just can't stand it anymore."

"Seeing what's happening to this company is like watching a loved one driving off a cliff and there's nothing you can do to stop it."

"I used to think Dilbert was an exaggeration until the last couple of years.  Now I know that it's reality."

Engineer: "They reduced our benefits again. Do you realize this company is getting a terrible reputation?  Nobody wants to work for us."


Ansaldo STS USA: Stay Away, Stay Far, Far Away

I am a seasoned engineer with over fifteen years in Software Engineering. I have worked at small and large companies, big names and small names, from coast to coast throughout my career and this company was in my top two worst of all time.

The benefits are substandard. It is one of the worst health plans I have ever had and it is expensive. The senior management is utterly clueless. Management’s response to low morale is more or less that you should be happy that you were not a part of the last lay off.  Which brings about the near constant rolling layoffs.

Their use of agile programming is so heavily influenced by the Project Manager Body Of Knowledge that it is bloated, restrictively time consuming and in short...a disaster. Severe company politics and group to group infighting. Focus is entirely on gaining a project, not actually doing anything useful or effective with the project once it is completed.

Company is extremely management top heavy. At one point there was literally ten project managers and admins for every engineer in the company. This should be one of the greatest engineering companies in the States and instead it is has become a stress filled, horror of a place to work where the only good employees left are more or less traumatized into staying.


Ansaldo Honolulu Joint Venture (consortium comprising Ansaldo STS and AnsaldoBreda), was awarded the contract for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the new line for the city of Honolulu, which will be around 32 kilometers long and have 21 stations; Ansaldo STS' share of the deal comes to USD 1,136 million and that of AnsaldoBreda to USD 198 million.

The design and construction work is scheduled to take eight years, with the first stretch of track being operated and maintained from 2015 onwards and the whole line from 2019 to 2029.

Governor Ariyoshi expressed his concerns in a Star Advertiser op/ed titled, "Leave no stone unturned before passing rail's point of no return" which summed up his feelings on the subject. His final comment in the op/ed was as follows:

"Those who are minding the store now need to ask themselves if they are doing the right thing by them and take another close look at the options. The city and HART's best assurance of delivering a world-class rail system is to entrust the task to a company with a proven track record."



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