AKQA

  www.akqa.com
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AKQA Reviews

Updated Jul 3, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.9 178 reviews

48% Approve of the CEO

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Ajaz Ahmed

(25 ratings)

50% of employees recommend this company to a friend

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)

  • Long hours (9am until 9pm and one day at weekends not uncommon)(in 19 reviews)

33 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews
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    1 person found this helpful  

    Project Manager

    Project Manager (Former Employee) San Francisco, CA

    Pros1. Great people. Almost everyone is enthusiastic and funny, which makes it easier when you have to work late nights.
    2. Great clients. Having amazing brands on my resume helped me get where I am now.
    3. You can work on any cool project or any cool client. All you have to do is ask and be proactive.

    Cons1. Rotten to the core senior management. My favorite thing was when the senior management promoted themselves after the merger with WPP.
    2. Low pay, long hours, 2 weeks of vacation for the first 2 years. Nobody lasts longer than 2 years btw.
    3. Expect to work on a ton of keynote decks. Unfortunately most of the time the deck ends up being the final deliverable.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTreat your people better.
    Focus on your current clients rather than new business.
    Again, treat your people better.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Good from far, far from good.

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) New York, NY

    ProsMost of the people are pretty cool.

    Cons- Account leadership is heavily inexperienced
    - High turnover, can't staff teams properly
    - Account people say 'how high?' every time a client says 'jump'. Lie to people below them. Manage up, only share information with leadership. They come up with the 'story' they will sell everyone.
    - People making the work are always last to know - too late since client already has meeting dates set up on calendar
    - Greedy, only care about trying to get more money and new business, will sell out all the UX, tech and creative teams and make people work crazy hours to put work in front of clients, sometimes they haven't even asked for it.
    - Let good talent go, do nothing to offer people new and exciting work
    - Boring clients in NY, banking and telecom are the only things they can win
    - Innovation is stifled, does not make it past the pitch because the timelines and budgets don't allow for anything but production - Only build websites, not much other work
    - Production vendor project approach
    - Hard to career path, totally chaotic

    Advice to Senior Management- Bring in more inspirational work
    - Treat people less like numbers and more like valued employees
    - Quit setting up your teams to fail on every project/account

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    An okay place to work

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) New York, NY

    ProsCompany culture is good, the NYC office is smaller, so you get to know almost everyone. They throw monthly parties, bagel Mondays, monthly birthday cakes etc.

    Compensation is average to above average.

    If you like stability, then you should work here. But stability comes at the cost of doing any remotely interesting work at all.

    ConsIf you're a creative, not the most exciting place to work. Not going to work on any "sexy" clients here, a lot of banking, telecom, etc.. The few interesting clients they do have is mostly website work.

    Upward mobility at this company is pretty difficult.

    Account can also be chaotic. Would often receive BLANK briefs, and would have to rely on word of mouth from account on what was needed, only to have the client reject it and say they wanted the exact opposite. This was NORMAL, and incredibly frustrating.

    AKQA prides itself on "innovation". There was little innovation going on here.

    Advice to Senior ManagementFix the account people.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • Culture & Values
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    1 person found this helpful  

    Overrated

    Account Executive (Current Employee)

    ProsGreat people to work with. Cool office and culture, with some industry perks.

    ConsOver worked and underpaid. No support from management, and you are basically expected to do your job as best you can and thats it.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSupport and LEAD your teams.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    No Room to Grow

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) New York, NY

    ProsThe people are fantastic- they are the work hard play hard type. They also celebrate employees anniversaries, baby showers, engagements, etc. which leads to they are a very close knit group of people.

    ConsThere is no room to grow- I felt stuck in my job for quite awhile after expressing my interested to progress to the next step. I unfortunately was met with either a glass ceiling or a path I did not want to continue on.

    There is also literally no room to grow in the NY office. Teams have been spilling into rented workspaces for over a year.

    Advice to Senior ManagementCreate some sort of learning and development department to allow your employees to grow themselves as they grow in their careers. Investing in their futures will create a happier employee base- one less likely to jump ship when things get tough.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Typical Agency Grind In a Desolate Workplace

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsOne of the best, if not only things that AKQA has going for itself is it's talented team members and high profile clients. You get to work with really bright creative and technical folks producing relevant work seen by millions. Working with talented folks lends itself to growth in skill sets and great work experience.

    ConsUnfortunately despite the pros, there's a lot broken with this workplace both culturally and institutionally.

    For starters, there's no work life balance in what's a very "heads down" office culture. By heads down I mean folks aren't especially friendly, mostly due to preoccupation with workloads and the lack of cohesion within the office, relationships within teams or across disciplines are not fostered (and in some cases discouraged). Furthermore, relationships are strained and internal politics are overwhelming -- internal politics being one of the biggest hurdle for producing great work and also mostly attributes to stress within the workplace.

    Institutionally the management hierarchy and their oversight is either a burden to you or simply non-existent . While it may be apparent who your day-to-day manager is, anything beyond this is simply a mirage. The senior management team can be both completely hands off or incredibly intrusive if there's an issue. Accountability only matters when there's an issue, which is an unfairly selective notion for a very thankless work environment. There is no investment in employees, especially for the long term.

    In regards to the thankless work environment, great work is rarely recognized, postmortems and retrospectives are even rarer due to the pace of work. There is no bonus structure here, so don't expect any additional compensation for late nights, weekend work, or over the holiday -- this is on top of wages being below market despite very large margins of billable rates vs salary.

    Working at AKQA may open a few doors in the future, but not much of an advantage taking into account the above.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTry building an environment that not only fosters great work, but invests in your employees and compensates them appropriately (either through recognition, monetary, or career advancement). Provide more oversight and structure to the discipline and account leads.

    Senior management, no one knows what you actually do.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Sweatshop in cool digital disguise

    Project Manager (Current Employee) New York, NY

    ProsGenerally friendly work environment, mostly a group of nice and thoughtful folks, you can be very independent, you'll always be busy with the volume of work happening

    Cons0 work/life balance, working 10-11 hour days is not only common but expected, everyone is stretched very thin and turnover is insane because of the burnout. Junior account people are running massively large pieces of business and things are constantly on fire/on the verge of a meltdown.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGive people a clear path to career development and support junior people with actual oversight.
    Fill the middle management vacuum

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Crazy agency disguised as a functional company

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) New York, NY

    ProsFree bagels on Monday mornings, generally nice people, decent salaries for some. People seem to want to make good stuff for the most part.

    ConsAccount is like a second, often-conflicting layer of creative direction for all client presentations. High turnover rate. Uneven work-life balance. Agency "thought leadership" all comes from same 4 people. Crappy health insurance options. Cliquey and very young-feeling crowd that's really into "enforced fun." Way too many meetings. Very little collaboration for such an open office-- why are we sacrificing privacy if no one is actually working together?

    Advice to Senior ManagementInvest in your people and give them professional development and management training.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Good at building perception / Not very good at Production

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    ProsGood at BD. Everyone wants to do great work. Opportunity to work on big ideas.

    ConsPOOR leadership. Very political. They don't care about the people. Technology and implementation are not respected.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGet some leadership training.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
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    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    9 people found this helpful  

    Old-school ad agency that happens to work in digital media

    Designer (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    ProsAKQA is what it says on the box: An ideas company. There are a lot of big ideas, inspirational rhetoric, and storytelling.

    This is an ideal environment for people who like working on blue-sky concepts or building client relationships, but don't want to get into details.

    ConsDespite the fanfare about innovation, most of the "big ideas" are grounded in novelty, visual finesse and clever tag lines. For a digital agency, AKQA has a traditional advertising culture of impressing clients with art and copy.

    Above all else, AKQA values abstract creativity and ambition for winning awards. The company is far more invested in constructing narratives about innovation than in creating genuine value for clients or their customers.

    The day-to-day work environment is political, negative, and adversarial. This is a place where smart, talented people get burned out and leave.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSubstantiate your rhetoric. If you say that you want to "stop making decks and start making things", then start respecting and investing in people that actually make things.

    Understand what innovation, quality, thought, and service actually mean. Parallax-scrolling microsites and videos with hotspots are not revolutionary ideas. Take a step back and address our clients' business objectives.

    Stop trying to improve culture and wellness with bandaid solutions like yoga classes, smoothies, and posters with mustaches. Get to the heart of issues by improving the work process itself.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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