AKQA

www.akqa.com
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AKQA Reviews in San Francisco, CA

Updated February 11, 2015
Updated February 11, 2015
92 Reviews
3.1
92 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Ajaz Ahmed
92 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

92 Employee Reviews Back to all Reviews

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  1. 3 people found this helpful  

    Innovative and creative spirit

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

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

    Pros

    Good company ethos
    Strong purpose and focus on values
    Highly sought after brand
    Employees passionate about creating ground-breaking work
    High energy environment
    Awesome client list
    Friendly employees
    Good range of social events and encouragement for work/life balance
    Thoughtful improvements all the time to benefit employees and clients

    Cons

    Client list includes many of world's best brands requires resilience as need to be able to adapt to a fast paced relentless environment
    Evolves at same rate as clients which means constant change
    Not the kind of company to join if you want to coast or have a sense of entitlement
    Need to be comfortable with ambiguity and taking the initiative

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep making the improvements that are being implemented. No company is perfect, haters gonna hate anyway, plenty of jealous competitors - so just keep inspiring with innovation and creativity!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great place to work if you are driven

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

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

    Pros

    High amount of encouragement and responsibility to do the right thing for clients/projects. Culture is pioneering with people from different countries, all over world who want to innovate. Collaborative, friendly culture. Working with professionals. Management is open to hearing new ideas from all levels.

    Cons

    Need to be self driven and pro-active to design the right career path. Clients on multiple time-zones and abroad requires travel.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please make it easy for us to own a part of the company. We believe in the vision, but would like to have ownership in the form of stock. Our career choices tech companies/start-ups that provide stock for employees.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 6 people found this helpful  

    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)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    Keep hiring the best talent in the industry

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 5 people found this helpful  

    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)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    Keep recognizing and rewarding the best talent.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 3 people found this helpful  

    Great place to learn

    • 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 a year)

    Pros

    Working at AKQA was intense. I learned a TON in a very short time. Most of the clients are top notch, there's really nowhere else that you'd get the opportunity to work on such respected brands. Serious resume builder. Lots of fun events and off-sites. Co-workers for the most part are excellent people.

    Cons

    Hours can be long, timelines can be seemingly impossible.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great design and a lot of cool projects

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

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

    Pros

    Great quality of work. Their's a lot of cool projects going on.

    Cons

    Not a very welcoming spirit from team

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  8.  

    OK but doesn't live up to the hype

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

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

    Pros

    • Looks great on your resume
    • Some great people work there
    • Good client base, if you're lucky you might get to work on several, but most teams are segregated
    • Clients trust AKQA and will allow them to push the box further than my experience at other agencies

    Cons

    • Hard to move up in this company
    • Managers are out of touch
    • I had the experience of being led on, hired and told they wanted me to move up to next level, but after 3 years and always glowing reviews, still was not promoted. when questioning this, their response was they weren't aware I wanted to go to the next level. whaaaaa? I felt it was a way to get the work out of me and only getting modest pay increases
    • SF location was pretty cliquey, often people from the "cool clients" seemed to be too cool for school
    • Never felt I was paid what I was worth for on the open market, its almost like they know they look good on a resume and so pay you less, but since salaries are private I can truly only go by what recruiter friends were telling me the market was paying
    • A very senior creative once told the entire office, "we don't really negotiate on pay raises, if you come to us and say that you got an offer down the street for X and would like to talk about more money their response would be BYE".

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    • Get your heads out of the clouds, often times creative comments were, "this doesn't work, try again" without explanation, when pressed for clarification, often it was still vague and not based in reality of timelines or budgets
    • Be more in tune with the people you manage, my old boss was a great guy but didn't see the growing dislike of the client or having to work extra hours for either client waffling or incomplete/bad briefs

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    High turnover, average pay, great 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

    I got to work with lots of very talented people and got a lot of good experiece

    Cons

    such a large ad agency, you were put into a bucket and it was impossible to escape it.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    cross over between talents

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    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
  11. 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

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