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AKQA Reviews

Updated February 16, 2018
456 reviews

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3.3
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AKQA CEO Ajaz Ahmed
Ajaz Ahmed
204 Ratings

456 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • really great people and great projects (in 42 reviews)

  • Great clients, projects and talent (in 36 reviews)

Cons
  • Tons of empty speech about work/life balance despite the fact that almost all creative teams are expected to say until 6pm every single day (in 41 reviews)

  • Long hours, sometimes issues with management (in 48 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (8)

    "Unbeatable opportunities and an empowering platform"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Strategist in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Strategist in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    AKQA is an organization that's constantly evolving, striving to set the pace together with great brands. But it also stays true to the values and philosophy set forth by Ajaz and team from day one. This relentless commitment to AKQA's DNA has proven successful, especially when coupled with a vision hungry for growth and evolution. Fundamentally, it's this mentality, in addition to an opportunity-rich environment filled with seriously talented, unique, and kind people that drew me into the company.

    Like any firm, AKQA goes through ups and downs, but it's carried forward by a fighting spirit that translates into constant innovation, unbeatable thought, and intense creativity. Total belief in the work has helped the company, as well as the people that share that belief, thrive.

    I can confidently say that AKQA offers strong opportunities for growth (the next chapter is always being defined), diverse connections and engagements globally, as well as an environment filled with brilliant people – both as professionals and individuals.

    Whether you're in it for the long haul or not, AKQA is a company that sets you up for success, agnostic of your industry of choice, because the values and activities the company is involved with are universally applicable (and highly regarded).

    Cons

    AKQA is an incredibly diverse company, in the sense that it's welcoming and empowering for anyone connected to it. But the degree to which this happens does sometimes hinge on having the initiative, energy, and willingness to make things happen. In other words, you'll get the most out of it if you're hands on, genuinely passionate, and care about what you're doing for the clients, the organization, and the people.

    More broadly, there are some gaps that the company is working on. None of them would deter me from recommending AKQA, especially as the environment is incredibly flexible and friendly. For the most part, if you want to make something happen (and it makes sense), AKQA is absolutely ready to support.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to look forward and create concrete change. Keep empowering young people to be part of this change.


  2. "Very nice agency"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Traffic Manager in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Traffic Manager in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at AKQA full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Very nice Human Resources Team, Account Team

    Cons

    No cons, everything is good.

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing good job

  3. "Great benefits, good people"

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

    I worked at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Lots of staff welfare events and activities, smart people across all departments. Great culture.

    Cons

    Not enough career development or training.

    Advice to Management

    Train leadership on how to manage people, properly. Review when reviews are due. The people are the company's greatest asset.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Smoke and Mirrors"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    -They pay you more than most places.
    -Promotions are absurdly easy to get.
    -Everything you make will look really nice.
    -Well designed offices.
    -Huge global network of offices, a lot of interesting people.
    -Handsomely reward those who drink the Kool-Aid.
    -Nice events, office amenities, perks etc.

    Cons

    -Creative leadership is inexperienced.
    -Very junior experience in very senior positions (account, strategy, and creative) creates culture of arrogance to hide incompetence.
    -Immature company culture.
    -Only able to retain low level talent, or people with visa issues.
    -Is more of a digital production house instead of an innovation company.
    -Very small projects and budgets.
    -Most creative work is digitally executing based off of another agency's concept/campaign.

    Advice to Management

    -Open your eyes to new perspectives and ideas.
    -Do not be fear based, it is ok for inexperienced leaders to be vulnerable and work with their teams- you don't always have to be the hero.
    -Mitigate conflict instead of creating and perpetuating it.
    -Be honest in your hiring process and with employees in general.


  5. "You learn plenty, you give your all"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Great people, good office, making friends for life.

    Cons

    Zero to no work-life balance.

    Advice to Management

    Trust your employees more and let them make their own decisions.
    Hire enough , and skilled people so people don't get overworked so easily.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Creative"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Reputable clients. Looks good on a resume. Opportunity to do great work.

    Cons

    Difficult upper management. Office politics. No work/life balance. Low pay.


  7. "Inspiring place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Creative, non-hierarchical, fun, fulfilling, gender equal

    Cons

    Data and Analytics was poorly represented at a Senior level - this was due open positions.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Management is not effective"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Web Developer in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Web Developer in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Good clients with money to spend and get it right, Talented co-workers who care and are committed to excellence. Teams are usually well managed and the pressure on deadlines is not too bad.

    Cons

    Many co-workers are just out of college so they will work for less. If you are a woman there is little advancement on the traditional engineering tracks.

    Advice to Management

    See what individuals have to offer and use their talents effectively. Give women more opportunity outside of the Project Management area that most are in now.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Loved my time there"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at AKQA full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The Portland office special snowflake, filled with talented, kind and funny people. In general, the management team looks out for what is best for the people working there. I have nothing but good things to say about the senior leadership there.

    The core services team helps make that agency run. They are nice, thoughtful, smart and always looking out for the little guys. Shout out to the IT team too, they are actually helpful which was a first in my career.

    The family leave is very competitive. I did not use it, but it was nice knowing that the agency cares enough for the people to implement such a generous package.

    Lots of paid time off and Portland celebrates summer Fridays (which is needed because sun exists about 3 months out of the year).

    The Portland office has an awesome location. They are in the pearl district and walkable to most anything you would ever need.

    Cons

    AKQA is part of a large holding company, which takes some of the financial decision making out of the hands of the people on the ground who should have it. The 401K match program is not competitive.

    Advice to Management

    Keep fighting the good fight. Stand up for the people. Continue to be transparent and available to people at all levels.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "All the ingredients for a fulfilling career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Portland, OR
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Since I started in advertising, I've bounced from traditional ad agencies, to in-house creative departments, to startups, to digital and product shops. Each time looking for a good mix of metrics important to me:

    - Is the work challenging? Creative? Fun?
    - Are the people here at the top of their game, or are they going to shortchange my effort?
    - Can I shape my destiny, or am I cog in a wheel?
    - Can I kill it, and be compensated well?
    - Can I work smart and generally not have to work late/on weekends?

    A lot to ask for, right? Well, AKQA Portland is the only place I've worked that has scored highly on each of those metrics.

    - The work consistently presents interesting problems in many forms. There are very technical product and design briefs (and those who thrive on them), and very creative advertising and comms briefs (and those who thrive on them). And everything in between. It's fantastic to have both muscles here in the building. And I will say, all projects get the same insane passion. People have the same pride crafting work for an energy company, or an airport, or a tech product, or a Christmas card, or a kids museum, as they do for Nike.
    - A very high percentage of people are extremely talented. Those same people have an unusual lack of ego, which is obviously rare. Not sure if this is because of hiring or culture or both, but it works. Posterior-orifice-people? Haven't met any here. (thanks Glassdoor guidelines). Of course some are better at what they do than others. If you're assertive, you'll get to work with those people. Make it happen.
    - From the day I started, I've been allowed to define my role, not have it defined for me, and leadership has been welcoming and encouraging. Willing mentors are plentiful, as our opportunities to make an impact. You really do get out what you put in here.
    - Pay has always been fair. Even in difficult downturns, leadership has worked hard to find ways to make up the difference and avoid layoffs, which in a project-based world, are all too common, especially in a town where the Nike budget faucet can affect so much.
    - My life, family, passions outside of work—they are respected. If there are late nights and weekends, it's generally because I'm pushing myself to deliver something I care about. Yes, there are the occasional midnight-oil burning sessions caused by misorganization or client whiplash, but they aren't common

    Cons

    I may be biased, but I'm not sure that the Portland magic cocktail is something that's replicated in all the offices. The city definitely influences each office's vibe, and I can't say that NY or SF is my style, but that's a personal thing.

    There can tend to be a hyper-focus on who's allowed to work on what and for how long based on billable hours and resourcing... leading to a lot of haggling and horse-trading to get the right teams in place, but it's understandable, and part of what makes the office viable and successful probably.

    Snacks in reception: way too many candy bars, not enough celery. I've gotta be up 15 lbs already.

    Advice to Management

    Look for the big creative opportunities in the next year and go big on them.

    Your presence and transparent communication in all-hands meetings is valuable, every time you're there. Use those weekly meetings to rally the teams, and have it come from the top, face-to-face, every week, not just delegated to a coordinator. From leadership: this is where we are, this is what's happening, we lost this, we won this, we need to fix this. etc. No need to polish the news, we're with you, we're invested. Open up to comment. This will create more of a Q&A and engagement for those that are new, junior, or introverted.


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