AKQA Reviews | Glassdoor

AKQA Reviews

Updated May 25, 2017
414 reviews

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3.1
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AKQA CEO Ajaz Ahmed
Ajaz Ahmed
179 Ratings

414 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • great people, brands and leadership (in 38 reviews)

  • Great clients, some of the best quality developers in the biz (in 35 reviews)

Cons
  • I assume that at times work / life balance will not be ideal, but that is true for every agency in London (in 36 reviews)

  • Work culture of working very very long hours (in 46 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (3)

    "Unbeatable opportunities and an empowering platform"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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. Helpful (4)

    "A good place to start a career but not for the most creative talent"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    the nature of the work is interesting and varied
    The clients are great
    The people are pleasant

    Cons

    Some key players do not seem to truly have experience with nor an understanding of interactive resulting in over promising and creating unnecessary bewilderment, confusion, stress and churn for everyone.

    Expect to work weekends, late nights frequently

    Advice to Management

    Seriously consider a culling of the Account Team or restructuring then to serve as Business Development and hire Project Managers that are skilled to take over some of the Account duties.
    FInding new talent is expensive - keep and cultivate the talent you have


  3. Helpful (4)

    "AKQA isn't all that great from the inside."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    If your young and a creative its fine working for AKQA for a couple of years. Junior level staff can learn at AKQA. You'll have to move to another company if you want to advance.

    Cons

    Anyone else who doesn't get hired as manager or gets hired onto a very exciting client project won't have much to appreciate about the company while your working there.

    Advice to Management

    There is nothing anyone can tell the management team that will make them change their behavior. They are pretty set in their ways.


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  5. Helpful (4)

    "Smoke and mirror"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    If you're into technology and making apps, AKQA is the place to go. But don't expect to learn any branding or big thinking.

    Cons

    The leadership only cares about maximizing profits at the expense of pursuing creative ideas. They don't know how to build brands. Only cares about tactical executions and making money of producing banners and apps. In essence AKQA is a production company, not an agency.


  6. Helpful (8)

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

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Creative in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Creative in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend

    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 Management

    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.


  7. Helpful (7)

    "Rampant mismanagement and lack of cohesive, strategic leadership"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Creative Developer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Creative Developer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


  8. Helpful (4)

    "Needs focus in direction. Pick a side, already."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Location, Location, Location
    Office space - cool building, sweet studio space
    Smart peers (some)

    Cons

    Clueless, terribly confused management
    Clueless, terribly confused management
    Clueless, terribly confused management

    Advice to Management

    If there was ever a dysfunctional, bizzaro management team, this is it. And not in a cool, creative way.
    Just because you have a monkey on speed, doesn't mean that the monkey is smart. And it certainly doesnt mean said monkey is a good manager. Your chairman just wrote a brilliant book, read it.


  9. Helpful (3)

    "Good luck."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


  10. Helpful (6)

    "AKQA great for creative centric initiateves, stay away if you're a technologist or front end developer"

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

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

    Pros

    Opportunity to work on exciting brands, .25 cent snacks in vending machine, monday bagels

    Cons

    No process on delivering complex engagements outside of microsites, very bottom heavy with inexperienced project managment

    Advice to Management

    Stick with campaigns, social media, and other creative initiatives, otherwise leave complex projects to other digital agencies that understand what it takes to deliver


  11. Helpful (10)

    "Giant high school with no individuality or opportunity for growth"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    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 Management

    Learn how to manage.


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