AKQA

  www.akqa.com
  www.akqa.com

AKQA Reviews in Washington, DC

199 Reviews
2.6
199 Reviews
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Recommend to a friend
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Ajaz Ahmed
40 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

9 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Prestigious clients, smart coworkers, cool projects.

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

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

    Pros

    Surrounded by smart, motivated people. Teams generally like each other, many people spend time together outside of work. Impressive client roster. Interesting project work.

    Cons

    Work life balance is not always great. Going above and beyond is expected, so not always valued/recognized.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 5 people found this helpful  

    Typical Agency Grind In a Desolate Workplace

    • 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 an year)

    Pros

    One of the best, if not only things that AKQA has going for itself is it's talented team members and high profile clients. You get to work with really bright creative and technical folks producing relevant work seen by millions. Working with talented folks lends itself to growth in skill sets and great work experience.

    Cons

    Unfortunately despite the pros, there's a lot broken with this workplace both culturally and institutionally.

    For starters, there's no work life balance in what's a very "heads down" office culture. By heads down I mean folks aren't especially friendly, mostly due to preoccupation with workloads and the lack of cohesion within the office, relationships within teams or across disciplines are not fostered (and in some cases discouraged). Furthermore, relationships are strained and internal politics are overwhelming -- internal politics being one of the biggest hurdle for producing great work and also mostly attributes to stress within the workplace.

    Institutionally the management hierarchy and their oversight is either a burden to you or simply non-existent . While it may be apparent who your day-to-day manager is, anything beyond this is simply a mirage. The senior management team can be both completely hands off or incredibly intrusive if there's an issue. Accountability only matters when there's an issue, which is an unfairly selective notion for a very thankless work environment. There is no investment in employees, especially for the long term.

    In regards to the thankless work environment, great work is rarely recognized, postmortems and retrospectives are even rarer due to the pace of work. There is no bonus structure here, so don't expect any additional compensation for late nights, weekend work, or over the holiday -- this is on top of wages being below market despite very large margins of billable rates vs salary.

    Working at AKQA may open a few doors in the future, but not much of an advantage taking into account the above.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Try building an environment that not only fosters great work, but invests in your employees and compensates them appropriately (either through recognition, monetary, or career advancement). Provide more oversight and structure to the discipline and account leads.

    Senior management, no one knows what you actually do.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    Project Manager

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

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

    Pros

    Fun working environment, good talented people

    Cons

    Management structure is very murky, unclear how one progresses through the company.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Define what is required to advance and stick to those requirements.

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  5. 7 people found this helpful  

    Giant high school with no individuality or opportunity for growth

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

    I have been working at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Beer Fridge, Nice Location, 401K Match 50% after first year, Endless knowledge in mobile, and annual events including parties, picnics, and more crony activities.

    Cons

    Crony Lifestyle, No Work Life Balance, Terrible Pay, Managers (don't have managerial skills), No Room for Growth, Everyone is Miserable there.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Learn how to manage.

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

    Good luck.

    • 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)

    Pros

    cool client names
    neat pool table
    lots of events
    high tech projects
    fun some of the time

    Cons

    Mostly a young company with lots of events with alcohol.

    There's too much preference for employee versus contractor. Some contractors are longer term than employees and contractors don't get enough credit for their work.

    They have tech group on a different floor than creative and most of management. This can create conflict .
    Inexperienced managers need to learn from the experienced ones how to direct the client's decisions over just filling out their requests.

    Lots of hours low pay compared to others in the industry. Don't expect comp days.

    Management has a lack of people skills so they create and exacerbate problems they could be solving. Not a lot of maturity is either practiced or encouraged. More professional companies have less people problems.

    Management also needs to keep their promises regarding cash rewards and be generous about cash payments for things other companies would pay for out of hand such as getting business for the company, providing employee referrals, etc.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Read that Velocity book your CEO wrote and practice it. Value workers. Find ways to break up cliques, or at least be less obvious about them. Make sure you are valuing those who aren't in the fraternity club. Value performance. Teach managers people skills both on a policy level and personally. Independently review each group's processes. Interactions team lacks a QA process for example so occasionally functional specs aren't designed for a complete system. Developers can help with this.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Terrific company

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I have been working at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Smart teams, high-profile projects, strong management practices. Relaxed environment, family-friendly. Great exposure to variety of technologies and tools. Lots of interesting work going on.

    Cons

    Some projects get pretty massive, which can get tiring creatively. Inter office communication/sharing could be better. Need more interaction between tech and design.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Create more opportunities for departments to interact. Per-project bonuses would be good, too.

  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great Hands on Learning Internship!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Account Management Intern in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Account Management Intern in Washington, DC

    I have been working at AKQA

    Pros

    Almost complete autonomy in internship tasks, pays off a lot in the long run when presenting experiuence for Job interview after graduation.

    Cons

    Too Short and no room for being timid. If you arent assertive can fade to dark behind strong personalities of other Account Coordinators. I was the only intern in the DC Office, so I had to build confidence quick to make a name.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Connect all interns in some fashion, i.e. internal networks. Would have made the internship a bit easier to bear in the future.

    Approves of CEO
  9. 7 people found this helpful  

    Rampant mismanagement and lack of cohesive, strategic leadership

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Creative Developer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Creative Developer in Washington, DC

    I have been working at AKQA

    Pros

    Great location (if you like Georgetown)
    Great creative reputation (although the DC office rides the coattails of San Francisco and London offices, who have much larger and more prestigious client portfolios)

    Cons

    Inexperienced project management and account coordination and client services teams, which means frequent communication breakdowns with clients and internally, resulting in wasted technical work, frustration.

    The Creative team's output is often managed by the Account team, which means that the results can be awkward and less than inspiring--not up to the AKQA quality that the client expects.

    The Tech team is often saddled with the burden of managing late breaking scope and requirements changes, when many of these could have been mitigated through better project management. As a result, the tech work experience can range from the mundane to the frustrating. Expect very little support from senior leadership (Tech Director, Account Directors, General Managers) to your concerns. The attitude is "suck it up and bear it".

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire better project managers to reduce wasted work effort. Clients are frustrated and so are internal team members. Account management is lacking in basic project coordination expertise, zeal, and direction.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 7 people found this helpful  

    Horribly mismanaged, with rampant incompetency at all levels of account management and an absent strategic focus.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Creative in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Creative in Washington, DC

    I have been working at AKQA

    Pros

    Cool-looking office, location, a beer fridge, and a pool table.

    Cons

    But the above serve as distractions from the terrible work environment--a reason not many stay here for longer than a year. The company hires inexperienced account managers who also serve as project managers--many of these hires have never worked for a digital agency before, or have had any significant experience dealing with other agencies and clients. As a result, requirements are not accurately translated to Creative and Technical teams, project scopes constantly swing, budgets are stretched, client expectations and trust are frequently blown, and the guns turn on you.

    Nearly all company events are centered around alcohol. The atmosphere can be cliquey and suffocating.

    Hiring is completely reactive, instead of being strategic.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Fix the glaring problems within the Account team. Hire competent project managers and product managers that have had a deep experience working with blue-chip clients in a digital agency environment. Allow the Creative team to take more of a leadership role in driving the ideas forward. Hire strategic planners with a proven record.

    Doesn't Recommend

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