AKQA Reviews

Updated July 23, 2014
Updated July 23, 2014
182 Reviews
2.9
182 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Ajaz Ahmed
27 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • You'll get to work on some massive clients and work with some great people (in 16 reviews)

  • Lots of great clients, good budget and wonderful people to work with (in 14 reviews)


Cons
  • I know some other departments have a much less favorable work life balance (in 21 reviews)

  • Low pay, long hours, 2 weeks of vacation for the first 2 years (in 19 reviews)

More Highlights

26 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great place to learn, but not much growth opportunity. Very hierarchical and political.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at AKQA full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Went from having zero knowledge of the industry to becoming highly competent. Perks include yoga on Wednesdays, mouthwash in the bathrooms, fancy coffee machines in the kitchen. Tuesdays and Thursdays also offer runners a chance to get a sweat in during lunch hours.

    Cons

    If you aren't working as a director of some type, you'll get dirt pay. Hours are typical of an agency - long and with the exception of a pitch, uncompensated.

    Teams are very siloed. Very low opportunity for advancement. Promotions typically are within 5-10% increase in salary and come every 3-5 quarters - not enough really to move the needle.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest more on the employees you have!

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 8 people found this helpful  

    horrible experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Creative Developer  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Creative Developer in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at AKQA full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    None. Horrible experience, horrible company, horrible people.

    Cons

    Everything. Horrible experience, horrible company, horrible people.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 4 people found this helpful  

    Monotonous, mind numbing place to work.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I worked at AKQA full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Pay and people are good. Everyone is friendly, which make it a comfortable place to be.

    Cons

    Within a 6 month span I saw 80% of the creatives leave the New York office for other gigs. That says everything you need to know. Why is everyone leaving? The work is mind numbingly boring. Senior leadership caters to what the client wants, which is usually garbage. A paycheck doesn't make up for feeling like you're selling your soul. People that worked here for years left with MAYBE one mediocre book piece to show for it.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Respect and promote your creatives. Push for interesting work. Pitch an interesting client for once instead of another bank. Having "AKQA" on your resume isn't good enough, the only thing that matters is doing good work.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 7 people found this helpful  

    Minimal respect for technology process and development

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Creative Developer  in  San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Creative Developer in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at AKQA full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Office location, people, client list

    Cons

    The SF office is driven entirely by account and creative people. Account promises everything to make clients happy, even if what they promise is an entirely unrealistic deadline, or even impossible. As a result, developers work long hours under insane pressure and no personal life. Anytime technology pushes back or tries to have a voice, it is squashed with an attitude of - well, you have to just do it!

    I've lost count of how many technology employees have left within the last 3 months. Virtually all of the Creative Technology managers have left along with several developers and architects (including myself). Morale is horrifically low and I'm sure over 50% of employees are interviewing elsewhere.

    Honestly, if you are thinking of working in tech for AKQA - DON'T! It's Silicon Valley - you can get a job elsewhere where you will be 1) paid more and 2) actually respected.

    It boggles my mind that a company that produces digital experiences can be so utterly clueless about the development process.

    Recently a CTO was (finally) hired and he was proclaimed to be amazing and going to fix everything. Cut to 2 months later where he presents 20 reasons why the company is failing on delivering technology and is so disgusted that he quits.

    And - of course - upper management makes no kind of announcement. It was like he evaporated into thin air and they hoped no one would notice.

    Seriously - it's a mess over there. I am in shock leadership hasn't been overturned.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get a clue.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Awful. HORRIBLE place to work!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Project Manager  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Project Manager in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at AKQA full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Some cool people, dogs are allowed in the office, yoga, running club, cheap vending machines

    Cons

    Terrible management. All the Directors are clueless. They don't care about the people nor care about their careers. They don't know how to manage clients.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Look for another job because you're not qualified for the one you have! Try going to business school and then come back and run the company.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 9 people found this helpful  

    Miserable. I regret my decision to work here.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at AKQA full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Some really great individuals. Reasonably close to public transit. The vending machine is subsidized. You get to say you work on "cool" brands. You are allowed one piece of free fruit every afternoon.

    Cons

    The majority of people I work with are unhappy and/or looking for employment elsewhere.

    As other reviewers have mentioned, expectations are unrealistic. Plan on spending all your nights and weekends working, or have your "dedication" questioned. Management makes little to no investment in the development of individuals or the cultivation of teams. There is neither training nor mentorship for junior team members. Atmosphere is one of bullying and intimidation, particularly among senior management.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you're fine with your high turnover rate, continue what you're doing. Smoothies, a few yoga classes and some quippy emails are no panacea for the deep problems facing this company.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 4 people found this helpful  

    Lack of technical backbone

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at AKQA full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Cool for creative folks. Could be great for creative folks as it is a creative digital agency.

    Cons

    It seriously lacks the technological culture and bent of mind. Management is extremely inexperienced in technology, thus technical folks will find it to be a misfit.Lack of tools and processes in technology.Misfit for technical folks.

    Every office (say in New York) works as a company. Not sure whether it is structured as a profit center.Values - I would say it lacks values as it does not realize what is technology and does not value technology.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Think and do. Not "do and not think".

    Doesn't Recommend
  9. 5 people found this helpful  

    Unprofessional environment. Stovepipe management.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Creative  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Creative in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at AKQA full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    A decent name with a history of doing good work; talented creatives in the below CD level; talented tech department.

    Cons

    My experience with the upper management was one of bullying and manipulation. I was often treated in an unprofessional, demeaning manner, and saw the same thing happening to many of my peers.

    The best of those peers were often overloaded with work, then blamed when projects went wrong. The people who didn't do the work—instead focusing their energies on playing the game—were promoted into management.

    It's sad to see a place that was once a fun, creative agency devolve like this.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you really want to fix things, bring in a consultant and don't let them talk to a single manager—only lower level employees.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10.  

    Good stepping stone job, but not a good long-term solution if you want work/life balance.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Designer  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Designer in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at AKQA full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    AKQA has a roster of great brands that can provide excellent experience & portfolio pieces
    There are some nice people working here
    They're trying new tactics for improving culture & wellness

    Cons

    Reducing overwork is not in the culture & wellness agenda
    They are spineless when it comes to standing up to clients for AKQA creatives (until it involves charging them for work).
    Awful management - my direct manager once told me when I was being overworked to not do as good of a job.
    In my role, there was no advancement beyond Senior-level.
    Only a couple people care in each team - the others accept misery and make it their identity
    You are expected to work AT LEAST until 6pm and often on late nights & evenings.
    No follow-through from upper management on helping you achieve your career goals
    People allow management to work them silly because it's "advertising" - they get away with stealing your personal life with this attitude.
    You'd think with a company so big you'd make a lot of friends...there are a LOT of people here who don't want to be happy or go beyond acquaintances. That's fine - but it's hard to go to bat for people who you know only are nice when they want something.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get rid of the people who don't care about their work and those who embody negativity.
    Show you appreciate individual effort with action (not just employee of the quarter/year but raises & promotions).
    Protect your creatives from grueling deadlines.
    Figure out what's happening on the account side of things so creatives who care have enough time to do the job the right way.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    A new emergency almost every day

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    Former Employee - Software Engineer  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at AKQA full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Location across the street from AT&T, with rooftop views of The Bay.
    Great access to MUNI and CalTrain
    25 cent snacks, 50 cent soda, free water and tea
    Comfortable chair
    Bagels on Mondays
    Fruit on Tuesdays and Thursdays
    Two story dungeon with cyclone fencing and cinder-block ambiance. This could qualify as a con if you have to work down there.

    Cons

    Company is moving into a new office away from AT&T Park, MUNI, and CalTrain
    Two managers. I quit before they could give me a third.
    Frequently had a manager tell me that I had to immediately stop whatever I was working on and work on something else. Had to get approval from my other manager before I could switch tasks.
    Too many employees, too little floor space assigned. Other areas of the office were nearly vacant.
    Lunch areas doubled as conference rooms.
    Dog fighting. 0/10 Will never work in another pet friendly office.
    Loud arguing 2 cubicles over regarding the latest emergency.
    Caught a couple of illnesses floating around the office. Was called out weeks later for taking time off.
    Ulcer

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It wouldn't kill you to step aside and let me complete a task before putting me to work on a new one.

    Doesn't Recommend

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