AKQA Reviews

Updated April 25, 2015
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  1. Helpful (7)

    Don't work here.

    • 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 (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    There are not many pros to working for AKQA. You will get to work on big brands, but mostly as creating banners or short lived, shallow campaign microsites. There are some very nice people there, none of which are in management roles.

    Cons

    Long hours. I know it's advertising and long hours are a standard in the business, but this is ridiculous. One month we worked 100 hour weeks back to back. During this time one person was sent home, but only after they started vomiting. Another was given the chance to have a night off, but only after they broke down crying. During this time people worked up to 36 hours straight.

    Aside from the abnormally long hours, the common workweek is between 50-70 hours. Not great.

    The 'Leadership'. The people at the top lack empathy and passion. Most are so removed from the creative process that they don't have the ability to comprehend just how unsatisfying the work is for the "creatives." Most seem to have been promoted quickly due to their ability to rub shoulders with the right people. These people are aloof and completely delusional. Their self-aggrandizing knows no bounds. While in most cases they work removed from the creative process to develop top-notch strategies, there are times when they do participate in the creative process by giving subjective and destructive feedback that at times goes against what is considered best practices.

    The culture. It's hard to have much of a culture when people are worked to the point for sickness and/or tears. While there seems to be some interest in improving culture by having a "Health and Wellness Director," the current state is dismal. One person making smoothies and giving out plants to 400 over worked and under appreciated people isn't the answer.

    The work. Coming to AKQA I was excited by the work I had seen on the site. What I did not take into consideration was that this accounted for a very small portion of the work. Also, while some of the brands might be pretty impressive, much of the art direction and branding work is done by other (better) agencies/studios. This leaves creatives at AKQA working as banner, microsite, and social specialist. If you think designing the 300x250 banner and a Facebook cover image sounds exciting, then maybe this is the place for you.

    The career opportunities. Do you think the above-mentioned work sounds good? Then you will be fine. Do you enjoy sucking up to people? Yes? Then you with thrive. Moving up within the company is really based on whom you're friendly with and what account/project you are assigned to. Coincidentally the people that get to work on the projects/accounts that let their talents/egos shine are the same people that continually suck up to the management.

    The hierarchy. Opposite of flat.

    Compensation and Benefits. It's good, but keep in mind, you're not getting paid for 40 hours per week. You're getting paid for 70 hours a week, plus weekend work, plus back breaking sprints for releases or pitches, so plan accordingly during the negotiation process.

    Advice to Management

    Replace yourselves with people that have better management skills and more compassion.

  2. Helpful (8)

    Career highlight

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

    I have been working at AKQA full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I have met people during my time here that will be my friends for life. I’ve had the opportunity to do the best work of my career. I worked on a project that won a Cannes Lion. I've learned it's not how good you are, it's how good you want to be.

    Cons

    I've pulled all-nighters. I've disagreed with clients and account managers. Typical agency angst.

  3. Fast pace and worthwhile.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern

    I worked at AKQA as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Fun atmosphere. Excellent work space opportunities for promotion. Manageable hours

    Cons

    Training was a little light, not interested in educating their employees

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  5. Helpful (7)

    Enormous talent

    • 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 (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I've worked at AKQA in the SF office for quite some time. I've been privileged to work with some of the nicest and most intelligent folks in the industry. I have always been given the chance to grow and thrive here, which is one of the reasons I've stayed so long. There are few dull moments, and long list of perks to keep employees happy. The work produced is top notch, some of the best you will do in your career.

    Cons

    AKQA is no different from other agencies - you will work long hours at times. There can be disorganization among teams (communication of expectations and timelines) but again, this is par for course in an agency (where deadlines and concepts change constantly).

  6. Helpful (7)

    Inspiring Environment

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

    I have been working at AKQA full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    AKQA is the first agency that I have been at that not only has an amazing culture, but has great supervisors. It is a place that challenges me everyday and makes me develop my best work. Also, the senior management are big advocates of work-life balance, which you don't see at some other places.

    Cons

    The high standards and expectations can be a little stressful and lead to long hours sometimes, but you do get to work with some of the best brands in the world.

    Advice to Management

    Keep hiring the best talent in the industry

  7. Helpful (3)

    Opportunity to do big things

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

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    I worked at AKQA for three years and had the opportunity to be on some super cool award-winning projects and clients. The DC market has little to offer in the way of digital agencies that are doing truly innovative work, so this was a career-changer for me. When you're on a good account, the sky's the limit.

    Cons

    Some clients are much more open to "innovation" than others and it's frustrating when you're stuck on a less-than-sexy account. There weren't a ton of opportunities for career advancement within the agency, so I felt like I reached a ceiling and had to move on.

  8. Helpful (6)

    AKQA is a great company that constantly evolves.

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

    I have been working at AKQA full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Incredible client list, a ton of opportunities to innovate and passionate people. AKQA is great for self-starters who want to do things no one has done before. We are moving upstream and now compete with Business Consultancies and Service Design firms more often that creative agencies. It's a real meritocracy and talent gets rewarded and recognized.

    Cons

    If you want to do TV, this is not the place for you. If you want an easy life, this also isn't the place for you. The best clients in the world have extremely high demands and only people who thrive on that pressure will succeed at AKQA.

    Advice to Management

    Keep recognizing and rewarding the best talent.

  9. Helpful (3)

    Factory

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

    I worked at AKQA

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Talented people, good clients, strong execution.

    Cons

    Poor training, uninspiring senior team, Ajaz is misguided and lost in his own contrived world of idiosyncrasies, never mind completely clueless as to how to motivate, inspire and run successful projects. His success is built on the backs of others, who has done a consistently good job of undermining, alienating and pitting against one another.

    Advice to Management

    Get rid of Ajaz.

  10. Great first experience, but not getting much growth anymore.

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

    I have been working at AKQA full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Creative work on Social projects. Great people/atmosphere. Great name to have on my resume.

    Cons

    Been stuck working on the same client for almost 2 years. Doesn't seem to be much room for growth. Poor management and lack of clear leadership.

  11. Helpful (7)

    Get in and get out.

    • 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 (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    - Nice business cards.
    - Good name to put on your resume.
    - Great clients.
    - People are nice and there are some talented people working here.

    Cons

    - They didn't take the time to on-board me properly, which led to frustrations and miscommunication down the road.
    - Bad sign when an employee who has been working there for two years told me "two years is long in AKQA years".
    - Extremely high turn-around. Someone quits every week.
    - They try to compete with tech companies in San Francisco yet they don't have any office perks other than a coffee machine (which is usually broken) and some green juice they make once a week.
    - Hours are unreasonable. 12+ hours are the norm plus weekends. I went to work every morning not knowing when I can go home and I stopped making plans after work.
    - PMs only care about the client and don't care about designers or developers. They will willingly hand you work at 5pm or 6pm.
    - If you left before 6pm, people would look at you and think that you don't care about the work, the client, or the company.
    - No growth opportunities.
    - Horrible management. They care more about how they are perceived by clients and from the outside rather than how the rest of the employees perceive them.

    Advice to Management

    There needs to be better management. Please hire better managers that know what they are doing and aren't constantly worried about their perception from the outside. I'm at a different company now with managers that truly care about my growth and well-being and I'm baffled as to how I lasted at AKQA for as long as I did. At my current company, my manager does a one-on-one with me every single week while at AKQA, my manager didn't check on me at all, in fact, ignored me. My manager only talked to me if there was something wrong. If you aren't at the top of their priority, they won't give you the time of day.

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