AKQA Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

AKQA Washington Reviews

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Washington, DC

4.1
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AKQA CEO Ajaz Ahmed
Ajaz Ahmed
4 Ratings

13 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    "Best agency in DC"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Most thoughtful and hard-working people you'll ever work with.

    Cons

    Have to be a self-starter to really succeed.

    Advice to Management

    Spend more on training.


  2. Helpful (3)

    "Dirty Laundry"

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

    I have been working at AKQA full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Some smart people who don't air company business on social challenge. Business walks in the door because we do great work.

    Cons

    Stupid employees who violate communications policy and don't have the guts to speak up at work and complain after the fact.

    Advice to Management

    Higher people who aren't entitled and have the sense to negotiate with valued perceived of themselves and the company in a mutual beneficial way.

  3. Helpful (6)

    "Good people, questionable model"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Creative Developer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Creative Developer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I made some amazing and lasting friendships here. You will learn a lot in a short period of time. Opportunities exist to try new roles and skills.

    Cons

    Small and medium sized agencies around the world are mostly owned by a few conglomerates with European roots. These holding companies are like most European 20th century minded companies: mediocre pay, lots of management, not innovative. Being acquired by WPP seems to have gained AKQA very little and instead imposes more bureaucracy and less reward.

    Advice to Management

    Senior leadership in London: what is AKQA? Do you care about turnover? Are you building something or coasting? Where is the passion? How will you motivate a new wave of creativity?


  4. Helpful (9)

    "Awesome company, not-so-awesome processes"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Creative Developer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Senior Creative Developer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great clients, cool projects, and the designs are amazing! They’re tech team is fairly decent and processes are always changing (most times for the better)

    Cons

    Deliverables and deadlines for projects are unreasonable, which IMO is due to (1) poor time management and (2) higher ups not having a backbone to say no to unreasonable client requests for last-minute, high-impactful changes, leaving teams to work extra long hours plus weekends! And it’s frowned upon when you can’t comply. There were only a few weeks out of the almost two years I worked there where I didn't average 60-70 working hours. The tech team as a whole needs more experience with more advanced levels of programming. Technically speaking, the level of code quality is on the lower end when compared to most software teams I’ve worked with in my 15+ years as a hard-core developer. Tech strategy, leadership and management need a lot of work. Managers are way too far "in the weeds" of each project, think they know it all, constantly feel the need to prove their “coding abilities”, and put little to no trust in their most experienced developers. Turnover rates are terrible. In the year and a half that I worked here, eight of the brightest tech employees have left.

    Advice to Management

    Learn to say “no” to or at the very least properly deal with unreasonable client requests that leave teams working extremely excessive hours. Properly plan projects ahead of time with accurate estimates that don’t just accommodate the design teams but with development and QA teams also. Focus on being objective and supportive by assessing and addressing team needs and working on improving overall processes. Be managers--not developers--which makes for a less combative work environment (managers should not be constantly arguing with experienced developers on the solutions they implement when they do not develop or write code on a daily basis). Invest more in your tech employees with bonuses, rewards, and recognition to establish their loyalty, improve employee retention, and decrease your turnover rate.


  5. Helpful (10)

    "Typical Agency Grind In a Desolate Workplace"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    One of the best, if not only things that AKQA has going for itself is it's talented team members and high profile clients. You get to work with really bright creative and technical folks producing relevant work seen by millions. Working with talented folks lends itself to growth in skill sets and great work experience.

    Cons

    Unfortunately despite the pros, there's a lot broken with this workplace both culturally and institutionally.

    For starters, there's no work life balance in what's a very "heads down" office culture. By heads down I mean folks aren't especially friendly, mostly due to preoccupation with workloads and the lack of cohesion within the office, relationships within teams or across disciplines are not fostered (and in some cases discouraged). Furthermore, relationships are strained and internal politics are overwhelming -- internal politics being one of the biggest hurdle for producing great work and also mostly attributes to stress within the workplace.

    Institutionally the management hierarchy and their oversight is either a burden to you or simply non-existent . While it may be apparent who your day-to-day manager is, anything beyond this is simply a mirage. The senior management team can be both completely hands off or incredibly intrusive if there's an issue. Accountability only matters when there's an issue, which is an unfairly selective notion for a very thankless work environment. There is no investment in employees, especially for the long term.

    In regards to the thankless work environment, great work is rarely recognized, postmortems and retrospectives are even rarer due to the pace of work. There is no bonus structure here, so don't expect any additional compensation for late nights, weekend work, or over the holiday -- this is on top of wages being below market despite very large margins of billable rates vs salary.

    Working at AKQA may open a few doors in the future, but not much of an advantage taking into account the above.

    Advice to Management

    Try building an environment that not only fosters great work, but invests in your employees and compensates them appropriately (either through recognition, monetary, or career advancement). Provide more oversight and structure to the discipline and account leads.

    Senior management, no one knows what you actually do.


  6. Helpful (5)

    "Prestigious clients, smart coworkers, cool projects."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at AKQA full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Surrounded by smart, motivated people. Teams generally like each other, many people spend time together outside of work. Impressive client roster. Interesting project work.

    Cons

    Work life balance is not always great. Going above and beyond is expected, so not always valued/recognized.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Project Manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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 Management

    Define what is required to advance and stick to those requirements.

  8. Helpful (10)

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

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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.


  9. Helpful (7)

    "Terrific company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I have been working at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Smart teams, high-profile projects, strong management practices. Relaxed environment, family-friendly. Great exposure to variety of technologies and tools. Lots of interesting work going on.

    Cons

    Some projects get pretty massive, which can get tiring creatively. Inter office communication/sharing could be better. Need more interaction between tech and design.

    Advice to Management

    Create more opportunities for departments to interact. Per-project bonuses would be good, too.


  10. Helpful (4)

    "Good luck."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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.


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