AKQA

  www.akqa.com
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3 people found this helpful  

creative

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

Pros

Creative work, awesome team - driven people to do bigger and great things.

Cons

long hours. long, long, long hours, goodbye to weekends.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

manage client expectations correctly -

Doesn't Recommend
Positive Outlook
Approves of CEO

Other reviews for AKQA

  1. 18 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

    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
  2. 10 people found this helpful  

    Change the guard and start paying attention.

    • 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

    Pros

    AKQA has some incredibly smart, crazy talented and really fun employees. In general, you want to work hard for your colleagues here, because for the most part, the doers are solid workers and great people. Depending on which department and account you work on, it is possible to maintain a good work/life balance here. Right now, this place still has clout, so saying you work for AKQA and having it on your resume still carries weight within the industry. You have opportunities to work on high profile projects for phenomenal clients that can become award winning work (if that matters to you), and you get the chance to offer your clients some pretty cool solutions for their business challenges.

    Cons

    With very few exceptions, almost anyone in a senior/director role is underqualified to be in their position. Managers are not managers, they are delegators who know how to climb the ranks. If you are mid-level, you will get very little support, guidance or recognition for your work and throughout your career. A very senior member of the agency once said "The good, capable people get overlooked here."

    Some of the senior managers here have simply been around too long and are not in touch with what is going on. They don't pay attention to their team members and offer very little guidance and structure. Mid and junior level people have very little visibility into the bigger picture of the agency and we have almost no idea what is expected of us.

    Shockingly, this place still doesn't seem to have a handle on resourcing properly for the massive accounts it consistently brings in the door. We are constantly strapped for resources and rarely have dedicated teams to work on our projects.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please start paying attention to your employees. Not just your shining stars, but every person who walks in these doors every day, working hard for this company and our clients. Some of your accounts are struggling and it's not because of the clients - it's internal conflicts that are a symptom of poor or zero management. You've got the people in the trenches figuring stuff out as they go. We can all do better as an organization, but we need your help. We need grown ups in the room, so to speak. Please step up.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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