AKQA Reviews

Updated 23 October 2014
Updated 23 October 2014
189 Reviews
2.7
189 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Ajaz Ahmed
31 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • You'll get to work on some massive clients and work with some great people (in 16 reviews)

  • Lots of great clients, good budget and wonderful people to work with (in 14 reviews)


Cons
  • I know some other departments have a much less favorable work life balance (in 23 reviews)

  • Low pay, long hours, 2 weeks of vacation for the first 2 years (in 19 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Great experience and great co-workers

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Campaign Manager in San Francisco, CA (US)
    Former Employee - Campaign Manager in San Francisco, CA (US)

    I worked at AKQA full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    If you are looking to jumpstart your career or get the experience you have been craving in the marketing/ad industry then AKQA is definitely a place to get it. My 1.5 years here was easily the most challenging and educational time of my life. I recommend anyone in the marketing industry to be in advertising for at least a year. It teaches you so much about not just the industry but professionalism and how to build an overall work ethic. Having such big clients really makes you work that much harder because one wrong move and you can lose a million dollar client. The people here are definitely some of the best in the business.

    Perk wise, well... 80% of health is paid for, pre-tax commuter benefits, subsidized massage every other week (if you can find a slot), subsidized acupuncturist every other week (again, if you can find a slot). Fancy expresso machines with artisan coffee bean (sight glass, blue bottle, etc) when the machine is not broken. Twice a week free yoga in-house (these are awesome fyi) and 'magic hour' session once a week (think bootcamp but with a pep talk)

    Cons

    If you are looking for great pay and you're not senior management then you're looking in the wrong place. AKQA does NOT pay industry standard. It's far from it. Their pay scale needs a serious revamp in terms of offering the right amount of money given anyone's experience. It almost reflects that of a government rubric where certain types of positions gets between X-Y amount and so on. But being the ad industry with so much turnover, I can see why offering more money may or may not be worth it.

    For a company with this kind of revenue stream and reputation, you would think there would be MORE perks such as free snacks and drinks, which by now is an industry staple in SF. Instead of providing such simple things, they try to mask their frugality with other 'perks' like a daily green drink which is usually kale and other things smoothie. Not a bad thing but not everyone is into that and I think they know it.

    Also, unless you're one of the bigger accounts and doing creative (audi, jordan, activision, etc) then don't expect to ever be recognized by the company as a whole. All of the all-hands are only ever focused on their biggest accounts and everyone else is not even mentioned.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Perhaps offering higher salaries would help with retention better.

    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Great experience with great people

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at AKQA as a contractor

    Pros

    Location, culture and growth. I work on a spectacular team and enjoy the work being produced here.

    Cons

    No work/life balance. Be prepared to put in long hours due to the unending requests from clients.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 3 people found this helpful  

    Some of their offices may make cool work, but NYC isn't one of them.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY (US)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY (US)

    I have been working at AKQA full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Lots of young people makes the office feel energetic and fresh. They're definitely a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-let's-get-to-work type of agency. They pride themselves on being a creative agency, which may sound good, but in practice leads to a lot of headaches. Monthly late night happy hours in the office were a fun and creative solution to get people together and bond/commiserate (depending on how your week went).

    Cons

    The lack of experienced staff leads to lots of indecision, which leads to rework, which leads to turn over. Employees tend to get staffed to particular accounts, so meeting people outside of your account is rather difficult. As a result, the office feels rather silo'ed.

    As a digital agency I was taken aback by the lack of general understanding of digital by most people. A project's creative direction was usually undertaken by the visual team rather than the UX team. While some designers can think interactively, their creative leadership (CD and GCD levels) clearly lack a strong understanding of IA or interaction design. Fighting their holier-than-thou mentality was a constant struggle as they try to push their own agenda while you try and design what's best for the user.

    If you are a UX designer this is not the place for you.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Separate departments (account, strategy, UX and visual) need to learn how to better collaborate with each other. It seems like each group is trying to own the project rather than it being a group effort.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Bright Past, Dim Future

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Creative in San Francisco, CA (US)
    Former Employee - Creative in San Francisco, CA (US)

    I worked at AKQA full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    AKQA has a fun, exciting culture and is filled with a good group of lower level employees. For all the younger workers there is a definite sense of place and enjoyment between those that work together. You like those that you sit with and work with.

    Cons

    The management is so disconnected from the rest of the employees that you might was well be at a different company. They have no interest in grooming, advancing, or listening to the bulk of the non c-suite people. Dissatisfaction is rampant and infectious. Work hours are grueling with no high level explanation of why, only and expectation that you will grin and take it.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Care more about your local people and less about your corporate (London) image. Stop changing lower level personnel when the real problem is management. Fix your culture of corporate fear and start listening too the employees that are in the trenches every day.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    No investment in people

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Pros

    Great colleagues, great brands, great work.

    Cons

    No investment in people. The only vision is to make as much money as possible.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop doing politics and start doing good work.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Digital marketing mill

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at AKQA

    Pros

    The brand name passes the digital marketing cocktail party test
    Big clients
    Growth!
    They throw a good party in the office once a month

    Cons

    Exhausting
    The community turns over quite rapidly because of attrition
    Deadlines are too tight and resourcing too thin
    Leadership is approachable and affable enough, but unfortunately have a harried and haggard vibe
    Not very well organized

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Slow down
    Make people want to stay
    Matrix the organization across locations instead of in tight little geographic silos

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8.  

    Great people, growing pain

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Designer in New York, NY (US)
    Former Employee - Senior Designer in New York, NY (US)

    I worked at AKQA full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Employees get treated well, working hours are quite human for industry standards, though occasional pitches will keep you in the office until after midnight.

    Cons

    It's a growing company so you won't know everyone by name anymore. And probably the biggest problem is the client list which is not very exciting for the most part. Though compared to the average agency, not below the average I would say, and there's at least the intention to do interesting work.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Awesome people. Amazing Ideas. Great work. Terrible Infrastructure.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Pros

    The people- the way that we all come together as a team. I have never worked with such a dedicated, passionate team, who are constantly pushing each other to deliver the best work. Every company says this, but I truly feel I have a family in my colleagues. The culture is top and I am consistently inspired.

    Cons

    Inconsistency in processes and management. Lack of training. Current employees are constantly looked over for promotion and usurped by new hires instead, causing a wasteful amount of turnover. It's a crying shame. The wrong qualities are valued and the company demonstrates a lot of myopia, both in terms of business and client management as well as talent.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Follow the adviceyou give to clients.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Inmates running the asylum

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Someone Who Cared
    Former Employee - Someone Who Cared

    I worked at AKQA full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great work is all they talk about...There are a few great people in the NY office

    Cons

    The organization is overrun by guys that grew up under and around the creative founder. They are consumed with getting his attention rather than managing, leading and paying attention to the client and the people that grind it out for them everyday. They view their people as minions, as dispensable and the attrition and reputation prove it. There is a predominant "british school boy" culture the has creates a cast system.... Your either a worshiper of Ajaz or you are done. WPP should clean house and save the brand.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Realign your business structure and focus on what you do well. Care for your people, don't beat them down..... A lot of great people has passed through and been tossed aside.. An the bleeding continues.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11.  

    Creatives, stay away!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Creative in San Francisco, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Creative in San Francisco, CA (US)

    I have been working at AKQA full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Wonderful, smart people that try to do magic. A few, fun activities run by an amazing individual. A good client rooster. The AKQA name on your CV. But that's it.

    Cons

    Horrible leadership. No vision. No structure. No understanding of how to organize a creative department or a large company. Fails at producing good work because the process is not set up the right way. No time, no budget. I work in the creative department and all we do is concept, design decks and in the end we have no time or money to produce work. There is a focus on interns. Seems like experience and knowledge aren't valued. This is a money making machine that tries to deliver work, but fails. Creatives stay away. This is not what you think.

    The office is also a nightmare. Think about the cheapest way to maintain 400 people on one floor, or now 300 because everyday people leave this place. Desk space is minimal, there is zero privacy or space. It's impossible to make a phone call. There is always noise. The light is terrible. 8 or more hrs of fluorescent lighting leave you with headaches. Designing a space like that should be a crime. Clearly this company does not care for it's people.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The SF office needs a POV. A capable, smart and connected leadership that enables great work. The recent leadership team is failing. I would restaff the leadership team. Reset this office. It's failing. The focus here is making the overlords of WPP happy by creating a lot of revenue.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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