There are newer employer reviews for AKQA

19 people found this helpful

Get in, get your two years, then get out.

  • 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 (more than 3 years)

Pros

You will develop some important relationships and friendships while working at AKQA SF. At the project manager level, you will be in the trenches with the rank and file members of the organization. You will be doing all of the work, getting paid peanuts, and getting none of the credit. In this situation, just like at any other agency, you'll only be able to forge ahead with the cooperation of other low level workers. By the time you reach your 1 or 2 year anniversary, you'll have made some great friendships that'll last long after you put in your two week's notice.

You will learn a ton. For example you will be shocked to learn that a company as well-regarded and award-winning as AKQA can still struggle with day-to-day operations. This was a significant lesson that I learned and will carry with me through the rest of my career. You learn more through your failures than through your successes, so AKQA is like a grad school for the advertising business.

You will learn a ton, Pt. 2: you will be thrown into many situations with no support, so you'll have to learn the entire process on your own. You'll have to manage large cross-functional teams on your own while learning on the go. You won't get the opportunity to be this hands-on with blue-chip global brands at other agencies. AKQA simply doesn't put enough money into fully staffing teams, so you'll find yourself wearing many hats, and managing projects with budgets that are way higher than you'd ever expect to be dealing with.

Cons

Some important things to remember:

You will make significantly less than your peers at other agencies, unless you are coming in at the creative director/program manager/account director level. If you are below that level, you can expect to wait 5-7 years to get promoted to the "Gold Club." The only problem is that people already in the "Gold Club" will subvert your career and try to prevent you from moving up within the organization because it threatens the viability of their position. This is more true in the creative department, but also true in project management.

You will not get any career guidance whatsoever. The review process at AKQA is antiquated and laughable. Management is not something that is taken very seriously at AKQA, so managers are not held accountable for developing talent. This is why you should come to AKQA, not to develop your career, but to get a grad-school-like education. If you stay longer than two years, you're crazy.

You will spend 90% of your energy working on pitches or decks. AKQA is great at selling ideas, but AKQA is simply not a viable production entity. As a project manager, this will seem frustrating at first, but you will learn the valuable lessons of risk management, contingency, and mitigation. You will learn how to properly manage scope, because you'll have to re-think it almost every single day.

You will have to dumb down your communications. The majority of the senior leadership at AKQA is not involved in your day-to-day business. They will spend all of their time defending the status quo, and defending the stale leadership that has been in place for the last 5-10 years (or longer in some cases). When you find yourself escalating major issues, people will not respond in a very helpful way. They will see you as a whistle-blower and you will get a reputation for being difficult and not enough of a "champion for the creative department." Once you receive this feedback, you need to start looking for another job. Instead, you'll be forced to dumb-down your emails, meetings, documentation to make the senior managers feel better about themselves, even though you know the process isn't the way it should be. The old-guard has too strong a stranglehold on the way things are run. The sooner you accept "it is what it is" at AKQA, the better. Don't try to challenge anyone with "director" in their title, even if you know you'd improve the life of your coworkers. (Isn't it ironic that a company that seems to be so big on innovation is so resistant to change?)

Advice to ManagementAdvice

You guys really need to clean house. The current management (anyone with "director" in their title) was good when the company was 200-250 people large, but now that you're over 400 and growing, you need an entirely new staff that understands how to manage a large, complex organization. Hastily promoting people to fill management gaps—that doesn't work, though, that seems to be the strategy. Please stop trying to figure out "social" or "product development" and just try to get the basics of advertising right.

You have plenty of smart people under the roof in SF. Start breaking down the tiers of useless management and let people doing the actual work have a say in the process. Hint: your competitors are doing that and succeeding.

One last thing: your greatest resource is your people. Start paying them more, get a cooler office, get a stock imagery account so project managers and creatives don't have to go out of pocket to buy imagery for your clients. Get a corporate card so project managers don't have to go out of pocket to buy dinner for teams. Get proper, working equipment for your employees. Give your creatives Keynote without having them have to beg for it. Throw happy hours for your employees. Stop being cheapskates. Invest in training programs for employees. If you make your employees work through lunch, then buy them a sandwich.

This isn't hard, but you seem to be struggling. I wish you luck in the future, because some of my friends still work there.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Approves of CEO
reviews filtered by
  • Any Location
  • Any Job Title
  1. Amazing group of talented people

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

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

    Pros

    Extremely talented digital natives who all push one another to do the best work. Highly competitive.

    Cons

    Not all the offices are of the same size and scale and they don't all do an equal job of scaling the business model most effectively.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep your independent roots intact.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 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 a 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.

There are newer employer reviews for AKQA

Work at AKQA? Share Your Experiences

AKQA

 
Click to Rate
or

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.