I have been working at Swift Agency full-time
I have been at Swift for a year now and it has been an amazing experience!
Besides joining Possible this year, the agency has doubled in size since I started! As it has evolved Sr. management has been amazingly transparent about everything that is happening. They are proactive in adjusting process as needed, as well as thinking about and planning for the future. I love the truly collaborative and really decent people at Swift!
As with any company that grows quickly there are thresholds that are hit and changes that need to happen as a result. It is very difficult to make changes as quickly as we would like and thus, growing pains are felt. Swift is in transition right now—it is an exciting time, but can also be difficult.
I worked at Swift Agency full-time
Things on tap, food, snacks, etc.
Dogs, and the variety of breeds represented.
Fancy building with lots of natural light.
Your boss. Your boss's boss. Your boss's boss's boss...
Who have all been there forever.
And aren't about to leave.
And aren't about to be fired.
And the company isn't really growing.
But also then-
The lack of collaboration & communication.
The lack of originality. The lack of time for originality.
The style over substance.
The megacorp ownership, yet small-time management mentality.
And the small-time pay. The subtle hostilities. The resistance, or worse, ambivalence towards change or dissenting perspectives.
The cult of personality.
The perks you won't have time for.
The open-office layout. "Employees should have no expectation of privacy." Because there is none.
The work itself.
The fact that you may be a current employee reading this right now after some ridiculous and stressful situation went down. Sorry!
Advice to Management
Reward hard work and creativity above seniority and loyalty.
Show interest and encouragement in your employees development. Show results.
Because Swift isn't doing any of these things.
Give people a reason to believe they have a future with "Swift/POSSIBLE LLC."
The opportunity to work on world class brands in an incredibly collaborative and warm environment is unique in the agency world. Employees have a tremendous amount of autonomy and are trusted to deliver. People really do seem to care about each other - in and outside of the office. At the end of the day, I would say it's just a really nice place to come into work everyday.
People who have experience working at other agencies or companies are keyed into how good things are at Swift. People who have not worked anywhere else or have very limited experience have no context for how challenging or political it can be at other places. No place is ever perfect, but by comparison, Swift is great.
It was sometimes hard to get to good creative. The creative pecking order made it challenging.
Advice to Management
Make the tough staffing decisions that need to get made in order to evolve into the hot creative shop that you are on the cusp of becoming.
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Typical agency perks. Shiny new offices. Beer and kombucha on tap. Catered lunch on Friday. Dogs allowed in the office.
In short, the leadership at Swift has spent more time and money in the last year trying to appear as though they do great work, rather than just doing great work. They dump money into parties and craft propaganda videos about their "cool culture" while meanwhile, their employees are frustrated, unhappy, and pumping out mediocre work at best. The leadership team doesn't see eye to eye on the vision of the company, creating a general atmosphere of distrust between teams at all levels, resulting in constant bickering and finger pointing when things go wrong.
Overall the vibe at Swift is incredibly negative. Managers bark orders vs. providing mentorship. Leaders reward brown nosing and compliance vs. merit and hard work. Recently, multiple team members were fired based on personal grudges that leaders had with them. Essentially, if you don't fit the narrow-minded mold at Swift, they fire you or bully you into leaving on your own.
Swift touts their focus on bringing in diverse talent and having a woman led organization, but don't be fooled. Swift hires individuals with very similar, traditional backgrounds and their staff is 99% white and of the same social/cultural background. Yes, they are "women led" but they do not create an atmosphere that is supportive of women, or supportive at all. The agency has one of the least respectful atmospheres I've worked in to date. Leadership on the creative team, in particular, is full of men who fail to listen to anyone below them, male or female.
Future applicants beware, Swift will show you their fancy offices, tell you they value work/life balance, and pretend that clients love them, when in reality they are falling apart. Clients are leaving, staff is either getting ruthlessly fired or choosing to leave on their own, and everyone is expected to be working 65+ hour weeks without question. Swift doesn't work hard or smart, they work inefficiently and kill your spirit. Stay away for now.
Advice to Management
Clean house. Get rid of staff that has moved up through the ranks simply because they've been there since the beginning. These individuals are killing the open and respectful culture you seem to so value.
Look at the people you've put in leadership positions and ask yourself if they were ever meant to lead a team. Leaders inspire and get out of the way. Leaders may not be the best at everything, but they know how to assemble a complete team and play to the strengths of each member. Leaders do not belittle their employees, tell them they don't have the right skills for the job, and use them like interns instead of the skilled, experienced professionals that they are. People don't leave jobs because they hate the company or the work, they leave jobs because they hate their managers. This is your problem, Swift.
I worked at Swift for 6 months and only left because one of those "you-have-to-take-this" opportunities fell in my lap. But I can't say enough good things about Swift.
Here are the highlights:
1) Swift says it's committed to culture, and it's 100% true. Respect. Life balance. Relationships. Transparency. Having fun – these aren't lip service: the company dedicates significant time and resources to living these values. Some examples: In 6 months, I worked maybe 3 late nights and 1 weekend. I wasn't expected to respond to emails at all hours. I was given time for management training and regular check-ins with my direct supervisor. Our teams met monthly with creative leadership to critique our work.
2) You will produce a ton of work. Because of their role in social and their in-house production capabilities, you will get to make sooooo much stuff. That's a good thing. It's an amazing feeling to just see the fruits of your creative labor go out the door so often, and looking so great. While I was only with Swift for a brief time, I feel like I've amassed 2 years worth of portfolio fodder.
3) Small agency vibe - big agency resources. Swift has hit a critical mass of size and scale that allows it to be a very comfortable place. While parts of this are tied to the POSSIBLE acquisition I'm sure – Swift never once felt like a WPP holding company shop (disclosure: no direct experience there, just basing on things I've heard). It's never felt hard to get a freelancer in to help. There are people to help with operations... All the infrastructure exists to make doing your job as a creative easier and more focused
I don't consider there to be any "cons" in the sense of really bad sh#t. That said, there are some things you should go into Swift with open eyes about:
Their strengths are still in social calendar content. That means posts, tweets, grams, etc. Swift makes beautiful content - mini ads for social. But there's an ephemeral quality, and a "smallness" to the work that differs from "big campaign" type work. Depending on what you love doing – maybe that's a pro or a con. I'd also say that, like many agencies, Swift is actively trying to push up the chain to earn positions of more creative/strategic leadership with clients that will yield more of that work. There have been early wins and I have faith there will be more.
It's fast-paced. You could be sending out a piece of final produced content 2-4 weeks after you came up with the concept - and you might have had under 2 days to get the first iteration of that concept to the client. Again - depending on your strengths and how you're wired, that might be a pro or con. Personally - while I felt like griping about it every so often, I never felt like it hurt the work, nor did it ever really stress me out.
Advice to Management
Keep doing the great job you're doing. Bring in great people and listen to them – and don't think you can't find those great people in PDX without big agency names on their resume.
Great community. Co-workers are friends outside of work, and most people leave at 5. They also provide free workout and yoga classes 4 times a week!
As a growing agency, company and culture may shift over the next year or so.
Great people, great managers, great work, great snacks, great community, great culture.
As with any agency/marketing, multiple schedules can switch quickly and require frequent re-planning.
I have been working at Swift Agency (More than a year)
I've worked for small agencies and big brands, heard lots of talk about innovation and values, and nowhere has come close to Swift in terms of making those things real, tangible and impactful. Inspired leadership who are in touch w/ the day to day. Smart, motivated co-workers who are KIND. And a solid position on the leading edge of digital content creation.
Rapid growth has been very well managed, but it can feel a little hectic at times.
Advice to Management
Keep up the stellar work.
I have been working at Swift Agency (Less than a year)
Swift creates incredible work for well known clients, however it's the company culture that truly makes Swift an unmatched agency. From weekly lunches and workout classes to thoughtful offsite events, it's clear that work/life balance is a top priority at Swift. It's also apparent that Swift is quite deliberate during the hiring process- every single employee is so talented, friendly, and open-minded. I feel very fortunate to be working for a company that values its people as much as its work.
Swift has been growing at such a rapid rate that space in the office is currently at a premium. However, we will be moving into a new and much larger building in 2016, which will alleviate this concern.
I have been working at Swift Agency full-time (Less than a year)
Friendly, inviting people who know how to get things done – but also when to take a break and enjoy life. It's dog friendly, there is beer on tap and a kitchen loaded with snacks.
As with most agencies, you have to keep up with the fast paced nature of the work. This doesn't mean late nights though, Swift has a great work life balance. However, most days you can expect to work pretty hard from 9 to 5.
Advice to Management
You're doing a great job at keeping the culture even with such fast growth. Never stop improving.
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