AKQA

www.akqa.com
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Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Doesn't care about people

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

    I have been working at AKQA

    Pros

    Some brands are supposedly good to work on, some people are nice I guess.
    The company name on your resume and that's it.

    Cons

    So many don't know where to start
    - Titles don't fit your real position in this business
    - Salaries are extremely low
    - Company ask you to give up your personal life but doesn't give you anything in return
    - Everything is extremely political : If you've worked 5 years for AKQA but are worthless at your job you will still be way more rewarded than someone extremely talented but new.
    You need to lick your CD's boots if you want a promotion
    -Projects are never produced
    -Worst thing by far for a creative : you start a project, do all the conceptual thinking and see your project produced by others creative that take credit for your work.
    - Creative will build presentation and decks 90% of the time instead of doing real work

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Start by treating your employee properly and go back to real ideas not some worthless design. Reward real talents not people that just have connections

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

    A Revolving Door. A Great Place To Learn Quickly Under Pressure.

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

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

    Pros

    First and foremost, my fondest memories at AKQA were of the people I worked with. I worked in the MSA (Media, Search and Analytics) department for 1.5 years and have developed my expertise by working with some highly skilled and hard-working folks.

    MSA tends to operate as its own shop, independent of the rest of AKQA - as such, my review will be specific to it. There are plenty of perks in the office - free coffee, free fruit, social events, yoga, massage, acupuncture...huge office space with plenty of open tables for meetings or private work. For people new to the industry, it is a fantastic opportunity to get exposure to respected brands.

    People in this department work hard. I can't speak to the rest of AKQA, but work hours typically run from 9-6, 8-6, 8-7, 7-7, etc. etc...then again, you are free to leave at 5 if you wish to do so. Generally speaking, people come to work in good taste.

    The office caters to young professionals, I would say the vast majority of the department consists of people in their twenties. After a couple of years at this agency, opportunities for growth at successful and high-paying companies "in-house" will be abundant.

    Cons

    Although I listed this as a Pro, this might also be considered a Con: the department is young. This is due to the high turnover rate and the relatively pigeonholed nature of the work - you'll get exposure to great brands, but any specific individuals' power over a project tends to be very narrow in most cases.

    The pay is low, and the work is relatively stressful. It becomes frustrating to work hard on delivering a brands' success and get little to no recognition. This is the cost of doing business - strong performance from the team gets credited to the marketing managers, then disseminated (maybe) to the agency, then to the directors, then to the individuals who work to make it happen. For the most part, this latter faction gets utterly ignored - it is the responsibility of an effective manager to vocalize the hard work of the teams consistently.

    To the rest of AKQA, the MSA department is the necessary but severely uncool counterpart. To MSA, AKQA is a hotbed of emotional politics with no unified vision.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Show greater appreciation for your employees. Salary is fair for the lack of experience in talent, but for the love of God, provide greater incentives in the form of bonuses to motivate the teams - many of these kids cannot live in SF with these salaries.

    Provide a clear mission statement. People will rally behind a cause despite harsh circumstances if they believe the mission to be meaningful.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Good for Short, Tough for Long

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

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

    Pros

    Great place to lean and grow on high-visibility accounts. Fantastic peers. Good opportunity for internal growth within certain departments.

    Cons

    Low pay, long working hours, finance is not afraid to try shady stuff on your way out. Be very wary.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 4 people found this helpful  

    Terrible leadership = do not work there

    • 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 (less than a year)

    Pros

    Free fruit. Office is nice. Some cool people.

    Cons

    Leadership is not very good at the top and within each office. They don't value people. They don't know how to manage their clients.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Wake up and realize the company is on the demise.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Creative environment

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

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

    Pros

    Opportunity to learn, great creative environment

    Cons

    Not a lot of room for promotion

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 6 people found this helpful  

    Lost their way

    • 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

    Pros

    Great clients with huge potential, smart and driven people.

    Cons

    Since being acquired by WPP, and moving to their new building, the magic of the place just went away. New senior management stepped in and the insanity began. The Creative department is ruled through fear and insults. PM too junior and ineffective. Client service holds true to 'yes men' stereotypes. Tech never given enough project budget and trust to be effective.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The strategy of loading London people at the top is not working. SF needs leadership that understands how to run a profitable business, not just jump at every shiny trinket that crosses their path. I remember when the cons listed above were rare exceptions. It was a great place to work back then.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 4 people found this helpful  

    Same old same old

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

    I worked at AKQA full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    People are generally pleasant with day-to-day interaction.

    Cons

    The creative staff still acts as if they're work supersedes all other departments while generally only convoluting the overall process and layering projects with ego and passive-agressive sentiment.

    A lot of smoke and mirrors.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Great experience and great co-workers

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

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

    Pros

    If you are looking to jumpstart your career or get the experience you have been craving in the marketing/ad industry then AKQA is definitely a place to get it. My 1.5 years here was easily the most challenging and educational time of my life. I recommend anyone in the marketing industry to be in advertising for at least a year. It teaches you so much about not just the industry but professionalism and how to build an overall work ethic. Having such big clients really makes you work that much harder because one wrong move and you can lose a million dollar client. The people here are definitely some of the best in the business.

    Perk wise, well... 80% of health is paid for, pre-tax commuter benefits, subsidized massage every other week (if you can find a slot), subsidized acupuncturist every other week (again, if you can find a slot). Fancy expresso machines with artisan coffee bean (sight glass, blue bottle, etc) when the machine is not broken. Twice a week free yoga in-house (these are awesome fyi) and 'magic hour' session once a week (think bootcamp but with a pep talk)

    Cons

    If you are looking for great pay and you're not senior management then you're looking in the wrong place. AKQA does NOT pay industry standard. It's far from it. Their pay scale needs a serious revamp in terms of offering the right amount of money given anyone's experience. It almost reflects that of a government rubric where certain types of positions gets between X-Y amount and so on. But being the ad industry with so much turnover, I can see why offering more money may or may not be worth it.

    For a company with this kind of revenue stream and reputation, you would think there would be MORE perks such as free snacks and drinks, which by now is an industry staple in SF. Instead of providing such simple things, they try to mask their frugality with other 'perks' like a daily green drink which is usually kale and other things smoothie. Not a bad thing but not everyone is into that and I think they know it.

    Also, unless you're one of the bigger accounts and doing creative (audi, jordan, activision, etc) then don't expect to ever be recognized by the company as a whole. All of the all-hands are only ever focused on their biggest accounts and everyone else is not even mentioned.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Perhaps offering higher salaries would help with retention better.

    Approves of CEO
  10. 6 people found this helpful  

    Some of their offices may make cool work, but NYC isn't one of them.

    • 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 (less than a year)

    Pros

    Lots of young people makes the office feel energetic and fresh. They're definitely a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-let's-get-to-work type of agency. They pride themselves on being a creative agency, which may sound good, but in practice leads to a lot of headaches. Monthly late night happy hours in the office were a fun and creative solution to get people together and bond/commiserate (depending on how your week went).

    Cons

    The lack of experienced staff leads to lots of indecision, which leads to rework, which leads to turn over. Employees tend to get staffed to particular accounts, so meeting people outside of your account is rather difficult. As a result, the office feels rather silo'ed.

    As a digital agency I was taken aback by the lack of general understanding of digital by most people. A project's creative direction was usually undertaken by the visual team rather than the UX team. While some designers can think interactively, their creative leadership (CD and GCD levels) clearly lack a strong understanding of IA or interaction design. Fighting their holier-than-thou mentality was a constant struggle as they try to push their own agenda while you try and design what's best for the user.

    If you are a UX designer this is not the place for you.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Separate departments (account, strategy, UX and visual) need to learn how to better collaborate with each other. It seems like each group is trying to own the project rather than it being a group effort.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11.  

    Good for short term, not so good for long one.

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

    I worked at AKQA as a contractor (less than a year)

    Pros

    Nice and smart people, specially developers.
    Big office. Fancy coffee machines.

    Cons

    Some projects are very tedious to work on. Not having excitement from the job is done.
    Clients constantly adding new stuff and expecting you to do your work keeping the same deadlines.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Value smart people that are coming to your company and try to keep them.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

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