Ziba Design Reviews

Updated March 25, 2015
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2.5
16 Reviews
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Ziba Design President Sohrab Vossoughi
Sohrab Vossoughi
19 Ratings

16 Employee Reviews

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  1. Amazing Co-Workers

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

    I worked at Ziba Design full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The people at Ziba are among the most talented you will find in design. They are passionate, creative, collaborative, and focused. I learned so much during my time there.

    Cons

    Compensation is a bit low but can shift quickly. I didn't find that the right people were necessarily being sent to conferences. Management injected some unnecessary fear into things.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Emphasize individual and team recognition even more...it means a lot, and people are sweating nights and weekends to make beautiful stuff.

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

    This Place is Terrible: all the positive reviews are from the HR woman who gets paid for hiring.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Research Analyst in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Senior Research Analyst in Portland, OR

    I have been working at Ziba Design full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Ziba once was a legendary design agency. The glory years where from 1990-2007 where the team of diverse disciplines created some exciting results. It's past reputation is now getting destroyed by the current status.

    Cons

    The philosophy and approach is fragmented. Ziba has re-orged 7+ Times in the last year. Why? All of the talented leadership have left to start their own agencies. The philosophy and way to run the agency is old. The result is undervalued employees, and naive leadership. Although retired Sohrab is the puppet master preventing change. The leadership keeps trying to rescue a sinking ship. Ziba puts on events of topics they have no expertise in. What impact has Ziba had in the market lately?

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get real Senior Leadership. This team isn't cutting it. Someone who has a vision and expertise in making an agency a global player.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. Great company. Constantly changing and innovativing

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

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

    Pros

    Great work environment and lots of room to be entrepreneurial and creative. It's a leading firm with the top clients and businesses in the world so it provides plenty of opportunities to work with some great names and projects. They compensate very well for their industry and aren't afraid to change their internal structure and processes to adapt with changing times.

    Cons

    HQ is in Portland...great city but just not for me

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep doing what you're doing

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. A very good place to work.

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

    I worked at Ziba Design full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    This is a good place to work. The new leadership has done good things for the company. I believe they will continue to. The work-life balance is tremendous. The autonomy and flexibility you are given is fantastic. The people are sharp and the opportunities to learn are plentiful. You will get to work on some very cool projects and sometimes will surprise yourself at the quality of what you are able to make when working with other talented people.

    Cons

    There is not necessarily a lot of structure. You need to make things happen that you hope will happen. Promotions, roles, learning opportunities, places on projects, even potential clients in some cases–most of these things won't come to you simply by keeping your head down and working hard. You need to go get them. Don't be complacent or you will likely lose momentum. Salary was a frustration and the client work, while sometimes exciting, was not always the most compelling.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue to be transparent. Continue to make bold changes. Foster more accountability and a culture where people desire feedback that will make themselves and the work better. Continue to protect and nurture your employees but don't be afraid to tell them harsh truths when necessary.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful

    Like a dying chameleon of the design world...

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Designer in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Designer in Portland, OR

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

    Pros

    Broken record (those are in the lobby by the way) but the creatives below the line are the best you'll ever meet. Wonderful people who are capable of doing such great work, if more time was spent making, and less just spinning of the wheels. ZIBA has a heritage of great design, and like a beaten and broken african lion you can see the glimmer of passion JUST behind the eyes of a once passionate creature. The facilities are for the most part quite nice, although don't expect an inch of privacy working there. The open model floor plan looks nice on first viewing, but there's a clear separation between those who make, and those who just talk. Again, great people for the most part. That's about it.

    Cons

    ZIBA is a like the Talented Mr Ripley of the Portland design world. Meaning they tend to get acquire someone who once, by association, worked in a field that ZIBA wants to play in. Now with that person they trumpet how they are now capable of playing in that new field. For example wearable technology. ZIBA has no expertise in this field, however by hosting a panel discussion, and putting out a video about wearable technology, they are now 'thought leaders' in the field. Smoke and mirrors.

    Like a dying husk of a formerly 'decent' company you'll see examples of work that past designers have made before leaving for greener pastures, now being shown off to current clients under the guise of current capabilities. No where is this better exemplified by their lobby, showing off work from TDK from 3+ years ago. The talented crew that did this work moved on, and took this client with them. And as a sad state of affairs nothing besides USB speakers, cheap iphone add ons, and failed UX media interfaces are even remotely close to the work that once represented the company.

    Outside of gleaming while office space, you have a floor plan that's inconvenient, bizarre, and affords no privacy as a designer. An infrastructure that might be the envy of startup companies in the late 90's (the internet is slow and the internal network is embarrassing). The management makes the one from Office Space look like titans of the industry, with verbal beratings for how designers should manage their hours, when management isn't bringing in new work, but rather coasting on the same clients for years. It's no wonder clients jump ship from ZIBA to smaller agencies, especially those containing the best of the ZIBA employees.

    Zero HR department, which results in some of the most unprofessional behavior I've ever seen. You have 'professionals' who can't have adult conversations, so you'll hear comments or complaints about your work third or fourth hand from people who are NOT your managers. This leads to resentment and difficult working conditions. All of this would be fine if the pay was somewhat fair, but it's not. People are promoted for no rhyme or reason, there are creative directors there who couldn't creative direct their way out of a box, and those CDs who are capable are so overworked they can't afford more than the most measly of oversight.

    This is a company that has squandered talented resources, such as their wonderful model shop, passed on growing internal capabilities such as photography and video, and in the process kept pumping out out of date design work that's frankly embarrassing. It's no surprise that they've had to hire so many outside agencies to help deliver the work they've told their clients they are capable of.

    Better work is being done by better companies. And those that believe ZIBA helps write your own ticket, please beware, outside of ZIBA's 'reality distortion field' very few in the industry know or respect ZIBA.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Give the reigns over to someone who knows what they're doing and actually cares about doing good work.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. Well, everything has been said about this place here already looking at the sum of reviews

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Industrial Designer in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Industrial Designer in Portland, OR

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

    Pros

    If you start as a jung designer at ziba you can get a few years of valuable experience that will help you to grow and kick start your career. The relationship to your peers will be exceptional and one of the best in the industry. Employees below management create strong bonds and are sticking together like glue. Well, they have to, given the owners and company culture.

    Cons

    About the owners everything has been said and I can just refer to the other reviews here.
    While you get underpaid below management level, the upper management get a good compensation to buy their loyalty and get them to execute the orders of the owners. Moving up at ziba is not just a question of performance and quality of work, but instead about what values you're willing to give up for money. Given this, it is also easy to identify what reviews here are coming from who; team vs. upper management.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 5 people found this helpful

    3rd World Management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Designer in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Designer in Portland, OR

    I have been working at Ziba Design

    Pros

    Best co-workers you'll ever have. Other designers are really really great people. Good process. Good place to hone skills post design school. The phone still rings with new business opportunities because Ziba has a good outside reputation. The work is very traditional. Not cutting edge design by a mile, but a good way to learn classic skills. Decent roster of very 'corporate' clients.

    Cons

    The owners verbally whip employees on a daily basis to produce more, work harder, make more money for them. Literally, they yell and cuss people out - daily. Every company meeting is a verbal whipping, rather than an inspiring talk about all the wonderful things going on in design today or the beautiful work our employees have created. It's really bizarre and makes employees wonder if it's legal. There is no HR person, only attorneys on speed dial. Hmmmm........

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Retire.

    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 2 people found this helpful

    A sad place that needs real leadership and inspiration

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Account Director in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Account Director in Portland, OR

    I have been working at Ziba Design

    Pros

    It is a diverse team, with young creative talent. Most employee's come from an international country and are very optimistic, at first. Portland is an amazing city and a perfect location for a design consultancy.

    Cons

    Ziba went from being an international renowned small company to a large privately owned beast! The company takes advantage of people. As a result, the quality of work has suffered. All of the great directors and crucial team members have left. The new creative leadership and senior team has no idea how to lead or maneuver with-in chaos . New talent get's lured-in by being sold work that has been done by team members that are no longer there, or clients that have moved on. They will offer a low salary promising "cool" projects that never happen. The two owners have no respect for their employee's. They will publicly insult you and make you feel guilty. Most creative companies have high turn around, ziba goes far and beyond that. In one month 30+ people quit. In this age of communication, this is unacceptable, and sad. DO NOT LET THEM LIE TO YOU, ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Learn how to inspire and value your employees.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful

    Brilliant, exciting, disorganized and occasionally frustrating -- a typical top-tier design agency, in other words.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR

    I have been working at Ziba Design

    Pros

    Three main things: the clients, the resources, and the coworkers.

    Ziba is easily one of the top five innovation consultancies on the planet, so you're frequently working with some very large, often Fortune 100 companies. The opportunity to have your work go out to so many users in so many parts of the world is pretty incredible. It's very much the big leagues, and the level of craft and the quality of the thinking reflect that.

    You also get supported pretty well in terms of tools, software, vendor services, internal assistance and so on. There is always some scrutiny of how the money is being spent, but compared with smaller agencies I've worked with, you generally get what you need to do your job. The reference and materials libraries are well stocked and organized, there's a small army of researchers to work with, and the building itself is amazing.

    As several people have already noted, though, the best part about working here is the people. There are 100 of them, and they're all smart, talented and dead-set on nailing every project. If you're coming from a corporate design department or a smaller agency, having such a diversity of talent around you is incredible. It's a bit like joining The Avengers or something, where everyone has their own superpower: they sketch beautifully and with blinding speed, or they can take off for a week and come back with a crystal clear picture of shopping habits in suburban India, or they can work out an impossible mechanism in three days flat, and have a working prototype to show you the following morning. The client relations folks generally do a great job of running interference so you can get the information and approval you need to stay on task. As a former freelancer who had to do this myself, it's a godsend.

    What else? Employees are given pretty broad flexibility on hours and location. There's a lot of travel for clients, research and inspiration (which can be good or bad...). They throw a good holiday party.

    Cons

    As with every design agency or department I've ever worked at, organization and project management at Ziba is very hit-and-miss. I think this is just a fact of life: designers by their nature want to control every aspect of their world, but few of them have the skills to run an organization well. So you end up with a lot of confusion about roles, a lot of micro-management, a lot of stopping and starting as clients change their minds. There's a lot of wasted effort and miscommunication, and that's frustrating.

    The other big downside is the fragmentation. It's not unusual to be assigned to 5 different projects at one time, and the responsibility for staying on top of all of them and keeping your schedule straight falls on you. Not the way I'd run things -- I think people are more efficient when they can focus on one or maybe two projects at a time -- but the nature of client services makes this unavoidable. Maybe.

    There's a lot of turnover at Ziba, which kind of sucks. People you really liked working with suddenly disappear, sometimes after 5 years, sometimes after 5 months. This has been improving lately, but still probably too high to be healthy.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful

    Amazing people, amazing work, amazing building, management needs work.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR

    I have been working at Ziba Design

    Pros

    You will work with 100 smart, dedicated, talented people who will keep you coming back to the office every day. You will work for Fortune 100 clients and start-ups alike, providing innovation solutions and design that will stand the test of time. You get to work in one of the most gorgeous buildings in Portland's Pearl District (and you get do live in Portland, which is pretty cool). The work-life balance at Ziba is great; you can pretty much create the schedule that works best for you and your family. And the firm itself is very family-oriented; it may be a bit dysfunctional, but what firm (or family for that matter) isn't? You can try new things and move to different groups depending on interest and experience. It's a very intense place to work, which doesn't work for everyone, but its a great place to learn. And if you can get past some of the drama, it's a great place to work.

    Cons

    Much of the management structure is outdated and inefficient. There are a few employees playing out of position, which can make life at Ziba unnecessarily hard. Travel for studio members can be grueling and some projects are much more demanding than others, but that's just life at a consultancy. There are opportunities for some employees to grow, but not all. Some Ziba leaders have a hard time communicating in a constructive way at times, which needs to stop.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire a CEO/COO who has proved ability to run a successful consultancy. Strengthen your senior leadership team with people who have the proven ability to implement ideas (and not just generate them) and help your directors hone their personnel management and communications skills. Be more transparent with your employees; have empathy for them and they may have empathy for you! A world-class design and innovation firm deserves world-class leadership. The opportunities are many.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

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