AKQA Reviews

Updated September 26, 2014
Updated September 26, 2014
185 Reviews
2.8
185 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Ajaz Ahmed
28 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 22 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.  

    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 for 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
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  5. 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
  6. 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
  7.  

    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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 5 people found this helpful  

    Very unpleasant people to work for

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

    I worked at AKQA

    Pros

    Nice looking office, good location

    Cons

    Racist, bigoted, egotistical staff, watch you back

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Resign

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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