Ziba Design Reviews in Portland, OR | Glassdoor

Ziba Design Portland Reviews

Updated April 17, 2017
19 reviews

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Portland, OR Area

2.6
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Ziba Design President Sohrab Vossoughi
Sohrab Vossoughi
16 Ratings

19 Employee Reviews

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  1. "A great learning opportunity"

    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
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Ziba Design full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    I have very few negative things to say about Ziba. I left a couple of years ago, and without a doubt still carry a lot of the learnings I had from the incredible people there.

    Cons

    Ziba got a new CEO who in some ways destroyed the culture of the place. The new leadership established since, made some questionable decisions that forced a lot of incredible people out.


  2. Helpful (6)

    "Excellent Studio, Disappointing Executives"

    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
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Ziba is simply an amazing place to work. The focus of the company consistently changes, and yet it has a strong institutional memory. That memory is what enables Ziba to continue to create exceptional work. You will also be exceptional, and have access to exceptional clients.

    Onboarding

    My interview process involved meeting with members of the studio, business development, operations, and with members of the team I would be leading. The process gave me insight into the organization, and allowed the members of my team to have input into my hiring process.

    People

    Whether it's a function of recruiting or self-selection, Ziba is composed of deliberate, thoughtful professionals who often are capable of performing at a high level across multiple disciplines.

    Place

    The office is comfortable, efficient, and serene: arguably the best office and building in Portland. It offers unexpected resources including a machine shop, woodworking tools, paint booth, laser burner, and three-dimensional printer that are available for (limited) personal use.

    Culture

    Today's Ziba is not the difficult place that older reviews describe. There are times when it feels like a family ... and times when that family feels the Royal Tenenbaums.

    Cons

    Ziba cycles between 75 and 125 employees. At the lower end of that range, it struggles with overhead and outsources its operations; and at the higher end, it reverses course but doesn't have the management necessary to take advantage of its opportunities. The result is high turnover, high transition costs, and an inability to escape that cycle. The most recent decisions appear to be made without measurement of true cost or need.

    Advice to Management

    Advise to Board of Directors: form direct relationships with the studio and ask difficult questions.

    Note that Sohrab Vossoughi is not the CEO (he is an owner)

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Losing its way"

    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
    Negative Outlook

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

    Pros

    Fantastic people, smart and strategic

    Cons

    Leadership is struggling now worse than I have ever seen it


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Amazing Co-Workers"

    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
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Ziba Design full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    The people at Ziba are among the most talented you will find in design. They are passionate, creative, collaborative, and focused. I learned so much during my time there.

    Cons

    Compensation is a bit low but can shift quickly. I didn't find that the right people were necessarily being sent to conferences. Management injected some unnecessary fear into things.

    Advice to Management

    Emphasize individual and team recognition even more...it means a lot, and people are sweating nights and weekends to make beautiful stuff.


  5. Helpful (13)

    "This Place is Terrible: all the positive reviews are from the HR woman who gets paid for hiring."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Research Analyst in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Senior Research Analyst in Portland, OR
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Ziba once was a legendary design agency. The glory years where from 1990-2007 where the team of diverse disciplines created some exciting results. It's past reputation is now getting destroyed by the current status.

    Cons

    The philosophy and approach is fragmented. Ziba has re-orged 7+ Times in the last year. Why? All of the talented leadership have left to start their own agencies. The philosophy and way to run the agency is old. The result is undervalued employees, and naive leadership. Although retired Sohrab is the puppet master preventing change. The leadership keeps trying to rescue a sinking ship. Ziba puts on events of topics they have no expertise in. What impact has Ziba had in the market lately?

    Advice to Management

    Get real Senior Leadership. This team isn't cutting it. Someone who has a vision and expertise in making an agency a global player.


  6. "Great company. Constantly changing and innovativing"

    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
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great work environment and lots of room to be entrepreneurial and creative. It's a leading firm with the top clients and businesses in the world so it provides plenty of opportunities to work with some great names and projects. They compensate very well for their industry and aren't afraid to change their internal structure and processes to adapt with changing times.

    Cons

    HQ is in Portland...great city but just not for me

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing what you're doing


  7. "A very good place to work."

    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
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Ziba Design full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    This is a good place to work. The new leadership has done good things for the company. I believe they will continue to. The work-life balance is tremendous. The autonomy and flexibility you are given is fantastic. The people are sharp and the opportunities to learn are plentiful. You will get to work on some very cool projects and sometimes will surprise yourself at the quality of what you are able to make when working with other talented people.

    Cons

    There is not necessarily a lot of structure. You need to make things happen that you hope will happen. Promotions, roles, learning opportunities, places on projects, even potential clients in some cases–most of these things won't come to you simply by keeping your head down and working hard. You need to go get them. Don't be complacent or you will likely lose momentum. Salary was a frustration and the client work, while sometimes exciting, was not always the most compelling.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to be transparent. Continue to make bold changes. Foster more accountability and a culture where people desire feedback that will make themselves and the work better. Continue to protect and nurture your employees but don't be afraid to tell them harsh truths when necessary.

  8. Helpful (5)

    "Like a dying chameleon of the design world..."

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

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

    Pros

    Broken record (those are in the lobby by the way) but the creatives below the line are the best you'll ever meet. Wonderful people who are capable of doing such great work, if more time was spent making, and less just spinning of the wheels. ZIBA has a heritage of great design, and like a beaten and broken african lion you can see the glimmer of passion JUST behind the eyes of a once passionate creature. The facilities are for the most part quite nice, although don't expect an inch of privacy working there. The open model floor plan looks nice on first viewing, but there's a clear separation between those who make, and those who just talk. Again, great people for the most part. That's about it.

    Cons

    ZIBA is a like the Talented Mr Ripley of the Portland design world. Meaning they tend to get acquire someone who once, by association, worked in a field that ZIBA wants to play in. Now with that person they trumpet how they are now capable of playing in that new field. For example wearable technology. ZIBA has no expertise in this field, however by hosting a panel discussion, and putting out a video about wearable technology, they are now 'thought leaders' in the field. Smoke and mirrors.

    Like a dying husk of a formerly 'decent' company you'll see examples of work that past designers have made before leaving for greener pastures, now being shown off to current clients under the guise of current capabilities. No where is this better exemplified by their lobby, showing off work from TDK from 3+ years ago. The talented crew that did this work moved on, and took this client with them. And as a sad state of affairs nothing besides USB speakers, cheap iphone add ons, and failed UX media interfaces are even remotely close to the work that once represented the company.

    Outside of gleaming while office space, you have a floor plan that's inconvenient, bizarre, and affords no privacy as a designer. An infrastructure that might be the envy of startup companies in the late 90's (the internet is slow and the internal network is embarrassing). The management makes the one from Office Space look like titans of the industry, with verbal beratings for how designers should manage their hours, when management isn't bringing in new work, but rather coasting on the same clients for years. It's no wonder clients jump ship from ZIBA to smaller agencies, especially those containing the best of the ZIBA employees.

    Zero HR department, which results in some of the most unprofessional behavior I've ever seen. You have 'professionals' who can't have adult conversations, so you'll hear comments or complaints about your work third or fourth hand from people who are NOT your managers. This leads to resentment and difficult working conditions. All of this would be fine if the pay was somewhat fair, but it's not. People are promoted for no rhyme or reason, there are creative directors there who couldn't creative direct their way out of a box, and those CDs who are capable are so overworked they can't afford more than the most measly of oversight.

    This is a company that has squandered talented resources, such as their wonderful model shop, passed on growing internal capabilities such as photography and video, and in the process kept pumping out out of date design work that's frankly embarrassing. It's no surprise that they've had to hire so many outside agencies to help deliver the work they've told their clients they are capable of.

    Better work is being done by better companies. And those that believe ZIBA helps write your own ticket, please beware, outside of ZIBA's 'reality distortion field' very few in the industry know or respect ZIBA.

    Advice to Management

    Give the reigns over to someone who knows what they're doing and actually cares about doing good work.


  9. Helpful (3)

    "Well, everything has been said about this place here already looking at the sum of reviews"

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

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

    Pros

    If you start as a jung designer at ziba you can get a few years of valuable experience that will help you to grow and kick start your career. The relationship to your peers will be exceptional and one of the best in the industry. Employees below management create strong bonds and are sticking together like glue. Well, they have to, given the owners and company culture.

    Cons

    About the owners everything has been said and I can just refer to the other reviews here.
    While you get underpaid below management level, the upper management get a good compensation to buy their loyalty and get them to execute the orders of the owners. Moving up at ziba is not just a question of performance and quality of work, but instead about what values you're willing to give up for money. Given this, it is also easy to identify what reviews here are coming from who; team vs. upper management.


  10. Helpful (6)

    "3rd World Management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Designer in Portland, OR
    Current Employee - Designer in Portland, OR
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Best co-workers you'll ever have. Other designers are really really great people. Good process. Good place to hone skills post design school. The phone still rings with new business opportunities because Ziba has a good outside reputation. The work is very traditional. Not cutting edge design by a mile, but a good way to learn classic skills. Decent roster of very 'corporate' clients.

    Cons

    The owners verbally whip employees on a daily basis to produce more, work harder, make more money for them. Literally, they yell and cuss people out - daily. Every company meeting is a verbal whipping, rather than an inspiring talk about all the wonderful things going on in design today or the beautiful work our employees have created. It's really bizarre and makes employees wonder if it's legal. There is no HR person, only attorneys on speed dial. Hmmmm........

    Advice to Management

    Retire.


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