AKQA

  www.akqa.com
  www.akqa.com

AKQA Reviews

Updated November 10, 2014
Updated November 10, 2014
197 Reviews
2.6
197 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
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Ajaz Ahmed
38 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • You'll get to work on some massive clients and work with some great people (in 17 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 23 reviews)

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

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 3 people found this helpful  

    The end of an empire

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)

    I worked at AKQA full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Lovely people but even the most human are leaving.

    Cons

    This once great agency has fallen on hard times. No doubt the money will keep rolling in and they can definitely trade off their reputation for a few years to come.

    A mere five years ago no one was doing what AKQA was doing. They had the clients, the talent and technical infrastructure to get some incredible world firsts off the ground.

    Now smaller agencies and start ups can do what AKQA does for a fraction of the cost and at twice the speed. Even the quality that was AKQA’s trademark has fallen by the wayside. A bloated bureaucracy has arisen despite the cries of lean thinking and start up mindsets.

    Today it resembles a club that was once frequented by artistic greats, but is now filled with the industry’s equivalent of estate agents and financial advisors. Everyone wants a bit of the famous fire but only embers remain.

    If you can stomach it, by all means, go for a year. Get the initials on your CV but be in no doubt – this beast is choking out its death rattle.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pull a Brutus.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 4 people found this helpful  

    Dismal. So glad I left!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)

    I worked at AKQA full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Thinking about it, there were few pros to working here. Some colleagues are fine but all the good people eventually leave.
    London location is good. That's about it!

    Cons

    I am out of there nearly two years and I am so happy I made the decision to go. I had no alternative lined up but being unemployed for a little while was so much better than staying. AKQA is simply the worst place I have ever worked. Bullying is casual, backstabbing is the lifeblood of this place. The senior mgmt are terrified/cronies of the CEO which manifests in a culture of bullying and pettiness for those who report to them. It is awful.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I bet you don't read Glassdoor. Perhaps you do but you don't care anyway.

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

    Probably the worst place you will work

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

    I worked at AKQA as a contractor

    Pros

    some of the people are cool
    clients are pretty cool, some of them
    running and yoga are great- nice idea

    Cons

    miserably bad resourcing
    your bosses talk ill of each other everyday and wonder why they don't get along
    people are always talking behind one another's back
    toxic environment
    unreasonable client expectations
    clients simply are frustrated with AKQA, which in turn makes AKQA employees more frustrated
    sink or swim environment- no one is going to go out of their way to help you
    people literally hate coming to work. literally.
    cheapest place i have ever worked- they literally have vending machines
    creativity is constantly being crushed by either your boss or the client

    seriously- listen to the other reviews.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 6 people found this helpful  

    Creatives, stay away!

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

    I have been working at AKQA full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Wonderful, smart people that try to do magic. A few, fun activities run by an amazing individual. A good client rooster. The AKQA name on your CV. But that's it.

    Cons

    Horrible leadership. No vision. No structure. No understanding of how to organize a creative department or a large company. Fails at producing good work because the process is not set up the right way. No time, no budget. I work in the creative department and all we do is concept, design decks and in the end we have no time or money to produce work. There is a focus on interns. Seems like experience and knowledge aren't valued. This is a money making machine that tries to deliver work, but fails. Creatives stay away. This is not what you think.

    The office is also a nightmare. Think about the cheapest way to maintain 400 people on one floor, or now 300 because everyday people leave this place. Desk space is minimal, there is zero privacy or space. It's impossible to make a phone call. There is always noise. The light is terrible. 8 or more hrs of fluorescent lighting leave you with headaches. Designing a space like that should be a crime. Clearly this company does not care for it's people.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The SF office needs a POV. A capable, smart and connected leadership that enables great work. The recent leadership team is failing. I would restaff the leadership team. Reset this office. It's failing. The focus here is making the overlords of WPP happy by creating a lot of revenue.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 3 people found this helpful  

    Inmates running the asylum

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Someone Who Cared
    Former Employee - Someone Who Cared

    I worked at AKQA full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great work is all they talk about...There are a few great people in the NY office

    Cons

    The organization is overrun by guys that grew up under and around the creative founder. They are consumed with getting his attention rather than managing, leading and paying attention to the client and the people that grind it out for them everyday. They view their people as minions, as dispensable and the attrition and reputation prove it. There is a predominant "british school boy" culture the has creates a cast system.... Your either a worshiper of Ajaz or you are done. WPP should clean house and save the brand.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Realign your business structure and focus on what you do well. Care for your people, don't beat them down..... A lot of great people has passed through and been tossed aside.. An the bleeding continues.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    Typical mediocre company with typical mediocre managers. No culture of any kind except chasing clients.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Berlin (Germany)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Berlin (Germany)

    I have been working at AKQA as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Compensation is all right. Colleagues are professional and friendly. New projects start frequently. New MacBooks are used for development. Working hours are Ok, home office can be used.

    Cons

    The company DNA is not in technology but in "creative" projects and narratives for the brands. Consequently, the company lacks any serious expertise in software development, discipline or methodologies. You get to work with typical mediocre managers using the same old techniques from 90's to run a team by assigning meaningless tasks to individuals and making more than questionable decisions. And none of them can be called "leaders", honestly. There are two ways to run a team: treat engineers as adults and let them do their job or treat them as kids and tell them what to do. AKQA only knows the second way, their managers have no trust in people they hire and would never empower a team of engineers to make any serious decision. Most managers are not capable of inspiring anybody for anything, they're only capable of translating customer requests into JIRA issues.

    Although the company attempts to show "We're different" by organizing various internal and external tech events - it lacks any significant culture related to software engineering. There are no guiding principles, no values or vision of any kind and no feel of pride when work is done. Making clients happy at whatever cost is actually the only value and the only thing that matters. Nothing else counts. If clients put ridiculous demands, restrictions or workload on a team you're expected to say "Yes, sir" and comply happily.

    Company spends zero budget on people, like training or educating them or letting them explore alternative technologies. The company has no vision or goal of its own, regardless of what managers say (they talk a lot but I'm yet to see any of their words turning into action). Getting more clients is all that counts. Hiring is quick (just look at how short their interview periods are) but many people leave very quickly - I've seen at least 5 leaving the company recently. And even after somebody has left the company *every* *single* *week* - the management team keeps talking about how we get more clients rather than how we stop loosing people and start being a better company. There's no feedback cycle - the company is not interested in hearing what anybody has to say. There are some official and non-official channels for that but they're largely ignored and no action is ever taken on any feedback provided.

    The office space is cheap and terrible, tables are very small, lighting is so poor you can't see a thing if you stay late (any requests for additional lighting result in the same "We have ordered new lamps" response for the last year). Kitchen provides no food except fruits and mineral water and breakfast once a week.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop being so damn cheap and start taking care of your own people. Stop talking about the next great client or brand you're about to pitch next week and start talking about what (if anything) makes people feel good about working at AKQA.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 4 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 (more than an 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
  9. 11 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 (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
  10. 6 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 (more than an 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
  11. 8 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 (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

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