WATG Reviews | Glassdoor

WATG Reviews

Updated June 7, 2017
41 reviews

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3.5
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WATG President & CEO Mike Seyle
Mike Seyle
17 Ratings

41 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Great place building a strong foundation for the employees"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Project Designer in Irvine, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Project Designer in Irvine, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at WATG full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Executive leadership lead by misinformation understand he is leaving now. Employee trust is a positive change for the long run

    Cons

    Glad they are cracking the great design is not the enemy of business now they can focus on building positively.

    Advice to Management

    Keep focusing on clients commitment to design and taking care of the staff


  2. "Anonymous"

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

    I have been working at WATG full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Friendly people. Multi cultures environment.

    Cons

    Salary range below average. Senior staffs that have been with the company for years experienced pay cuts have not been brought up back to the salaries .

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your employee

  3. "Jr Designer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Architect in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Architect in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at WATG (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Great company with great projects. Great benefits.

    Cons

    None that I can think of.


  4. Helpful (2)

    "A has been company"

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

    I have been working at WATG full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Mediocre projects to keep employees busy

    Cons

    Mediocre projects means the company is no longer a high-end hotel design firm.

    Advice to Management

    Look at the type of projects used to get ten years ago and hire real marketing / business development professionals.


  5. "Good firm"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Intermediate Designer in Costa Mesa, CA
    Current Employee - Intermediate Designer in Costa Mesa, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Nice people, great projects and experience. You may work on different projects from all over the world. Great firm culture!

    Cons

    You might be dedicated to work on projects from one area of the world rather than others ! Sometimes it's not transparent and not clear structure

    Advice to Management

    Creat more opportunities for junior staff


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Great Atmosphere; Great People"

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

    Pros

    Ohana attitude, very welcoming, enjoyable, and passionate employees. Outstanding office building, great location, treats employees well. best place i have ever worked at to date.

    Cons

    the only cons that i can think of are:
    because of higher costs, wages may not be competitive.
    employees often put in overtime because of deadlines imposed by managers/clients


  7. "Best experience ever"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Architect in Irvine, CA
    Current Employee - Architect in Irvine, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at WATG full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    WATG is a place with heart, passion and respect for their people, clients and the art of deign. Collaborative design environment. Is an employee owned Trust spreads accountability.

    Cons

    Figured the business out maintain the desire for quality design. Continue to strive for the creative voice in all. Continue to remember the responsibility of our families is on everyone

    Advice to Management

    Become design lead

  8. "Sr. Network Engineer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Network Engineer in Irvine, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Network Engineer in Irvine, CA
    Recommends

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

    Pros

    Great environment. Company cares about employees & making them happy. Upper management is logical in terms of taking the company forward & keeping things up to date.

    Cons

    IT dept going through growing pains here & there, but will eventually iron out the rough edges.


  9. "Unique firm with an ohana sense of community."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Designer in Irvine, CA
    Current Employee - Project Designer in Irvine, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at WATG full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Although the projects and their locations are incredible, there is something unique and special about the type of people at WATG. They make it a great place to work. The past employees still stay in contact with the current because of the close relationships they have made.

    Cons

    In order to survive the ups and downs of recessions, the firm has become more corporate but there still is a strong sense of ohana.


  10. Helpful (10)

    "A Once Great Firm"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Designer in Irvine, CA
    Former Employee - Designer in Irvine, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at WATG full-time

    Pros

    The company has a long history and is now best categorized as a once great firm. For a time, their Southern California office represented the center of gravity for the entire firm. It was the biggest and busiest office and home to their corporate headquarters. Since moving to Irvine, this office has constantly struggled to remain relevant. The London and Singapore offices soon eclipsed the Irvine office, leaving it to flounder in an illogical location far from clients and projects. Even the CEO left for the UK to be where the action is. As for more specifics about the Irvine office, it operates as a feudal organization with three distinct social castes:

    Kahuna (Principals)
    Primary Skill Set: Signing proposals, selecting pictures for presentations, reviewing org charts, fighting with other Kahunas (occasionally a Kahuna will succeed in getting one of the other Kahunas banished to a different office!), collecting frequent flyer miles, updating the Ohana myth, selecting Lolos and the occasional Makamaka to toss into the volcano.
    Key Identifying Features: Sits in an office. Drives a luxury automobile, replaces it often. Has enough airline miles to take their spouse on vacations to nice places. Almost always male.

    Makamaka (Associates)
    Primary Skill Set: Writing proposals, organizing pictures to be selected for presentations, creating org charts, staying in the good graces of the Kahunas, maintaining the Ohana myth, creating lists of Lolos to toss into the volcano.
    Key Identifying Features: Sits in a cubicle next to a window. Drives a respectable car, replaces it occasionally. Has enough airline miles to claim an occasional travel award. Highest possible caste for women, typically.

    Lolo (Everyone Else)
    Primary Skill Set: Binding proposals, printing and lots of pictures (what’s a copyright?) for presentations, watching themselves move around on org charts, wondering if the Kahunas know their names, believing the Ohana myth, getting tossed into the volcano.
    Key Identifying Features: Sits in cubicle without a window. Drives their car until it dies. Has enough airline miles to receive a complimentary bag of peanuts. They are most often young as Lolos with long tenure are usually tossed into the volcano once their vacation accrual rate is maxed out.

    The Ohana Myth
    Since the company was founded in Hawaii, it uses Hawaiian terms like Ohana for internal marketing purposes. Ohana translates to family and it is a useful tool for subjugating the Lolo caste. Look, we had a picnic, we’re Ohana. You don’t need a raise, we’re Ohana. Sure the Kahuna took all the credit for your work, we’re Ohana. You don’t need a promotion, we’re Ohana. Everyone be happy, we’re Ohana. It is important to remember that a key component of the Ohana myth is making sure that the Lolo caste believe that it is part of Ohana and that they never learn the meaning of Lolo, which translated, means idiot.

    The Bad News
    It’s probably never going to change. It’s a boutique niche firm with a limited market with all of the baggage that a large corporate firm typically has. Now that they are employee owned it will not be purchased which was the next obvious evolutionary step. While it is possible that the Irvine office could move to Los Angeles where they could reinvigorate their ranks with talent at a centralized location, they will likely remain in Orange County where the Kahunas and the permanent Makamakas live. Speaking of Makamakas, this caste could also be called the Wahines since this is as far as you can progress here if you are a woman – the glass ceiling at this office is made of UL 752 Level 10 rated ballistic resistant glass. The only way past it is if you are being set up to fail by the Kahunas (this recession just won’t quit, how would you like to be the managing director?) or if you are an interior designer. If you are just getting out of school and plan to get licensed, you should probably work somewhere else since the typical scope of services performed here do not provide adequate, well-rounded training opportunities.

    The Good News
    Working here often leads to a much better job elsewhere. The fact that they underpay will make that transition even nicer. Since their overhead is very high - the Kahunas need to travel - their fees are high and they are easy to compete against. As an alumni, you will be forever entertained as there is always something absurd such as a hilarious new top-down mandate or a volcano tossing (round of layoffs) or an expensive office renovation or another Kahuna battle happening. If you still insist on working here, the best strategies for maximizing your income and standing is to quit and get rehired or just get hired directly by the CEO. Also, working in an office other than Irvine or Honolulu (they have been irrelevant for decades) is probably a good idea.

    Cons

    It's all spelled out above.

    Advice to Management

    They won't change, why bother?


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