AKQA Reviews

Updated 26 September 2014
Updated 26 September 2014
185 Reviews
2.8
185 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Ajaz Ahmed
28 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 22 reviews)

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

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    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 for more than a 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
  2.  

    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 for 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
  3.  

    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
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  5.  

    Typical mediocre company with typical mediocre managers. No culture of any kind except chasing clients.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Berlin (Germany)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Berlin (Germany)

    I have been working at AKQA as a contractor for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Compensation is all right. Colleagues are professional and friendly. New projects start frequently. New MacBooks are used for development. Working hours are Ok, home office can be used.

    Cons

    The company DNA is not in technology but in "creative" projects and narratives for the brands. Consequently, the company lacks any serious expertise in software development, discipline or methodologies. You get to work with typical mediocre managers using the same old techniques from 90's to run a team by assigning meaningless tasks to individuals and making more than questionable decisions. And none of them can be called "leaders", honestly. There are two ways to run a team: treat engineers as adults and let them do their job or treat them as kids and tell them what to do. AKQA only knows the second way, their managers have no trust in people they hire and would never empower a team of engineers to make any serious decision. Most managers are not capable of inspiring anybody for anything, they're only capable of translating customer requests into JIRA issues.

    Although the company attempts to show "We're different" by organizing various internal and external tech events - it lacks any significant culture related to software engineering. There are no guiding principles, no values or vision of any kind and no feel of pride when work is done. Making clients happy at whatever cost is actually the only value and the only thing that matters. Nothing else counts. If clients put ridiculous demands, restrictions or workload on a team you're expected to say "Yes, sir" and comply happily.

    Company spends zero budget on people, like training or educating them or letting them explore alternative technologies. The company has no vision or goal of its own, regardless of what managers say (they talk a lot but I'm yet to see any of their words turning into action). Getting more clients is all that counts. Hiring is quick (just look at how short their interview periods are) but many people leave very quickly - I've seen at least 5 leaving the company recently. And even after somebody has left the company *every* *single* *week* - the management team keeps talking about how we get more clients rather than how we stop loosing people and start being a better company. There's no feedback cycle - the company is not interested in hearing what anybody has to say. There are some official and non-official channels for that but they're largely ignored and no action is ever taken on any feedback provided.

    The office space is cheap and terrible, tables are very small, lighting is so poor you can't see a thing if you stay late (any requests for additional lighting result in the same "We have ordered new lamps" response for the last year). Kitchen provides no food except fruits and mineral water and breakfast once a week.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop being so damn cheap and start taking care of your own people. Stop talking about the next great client or brand you're about to pitch next week and start talking about what (if anything) makes people feel good about working at AKQA.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    Media Planner

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

    I worked at AKQA full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Amazing social culture. Got along with everyone, and wanted to see all of my coworkers after work & on the weekends.

    Cons

    The pay and the hours! It should be flat-out illegal to work people so hard, and to pay them that little!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 3 people found this helpful  

    Failing to live up to the promise.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Associate Creative Director  in  London, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Associate Creative Director in London, England (UK)

    I have been working at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Mostly nice people, the opportunity to add some great names to your CV (you know the ones I mean). Strong heritage.

    Cons

    A lack of vision.
    Lack of creative leadership.
    Lack of clients' ambition.
    Too big to get things done quickly.
    Needing new clients.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stand for something.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Join AKQA only if you have no other options

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

    I worked at AKQA full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Not many, actually. Your colleagues will be very nice and friendly, you may start a new project every year.

    Cons

    Even though AKQA brands itself as "the best/leading digital agency in the world" after receiving several awards, the company takes surprisingly little care of its own employees. While the pay is good, almost zero budget is spent on developing or training or sending people to conferences (once a year would be your best chance of going somewhere, and it better be local). There are various internal training on public speaking and communication but they're very short, 2-3 hours here and there. I guess hiring a professional trainer for 2-3 days instead would be way too much to ask from AKQA.

    The office space varies between the cities, the one in Berlin is commonly recognized as the worst - people are in a room where there's a giant window but it can't be opened, makes it some nice summer days, as you can imagine. The company is so greedy that it makes people seat on tables so small, one has no place to put his laptop sometimes. The kitchen only provides tea, coffee, mineral water, some fruits and occasional "leftovers" after meeting the clients (what a delight indeed). There's a vending machine, the company is "taking care of a healthy food" so sponsoring the machine is out of the question. But you have water and fruits, right?

    Team's management is built in a typical pyramid manner where for 3 developers you have 4 managers walking around and doing basically nothing. Teams are not empowered to make any decisions, all project-wide decisions are dumped from the top, without bothering to ask for team's opinion. Technical expertise of managerial team is not satisfying by any mean and, generally, the company is *very* short-term thinking, chasing one client after another. Activities that can't be billed by a client, would hardly be approved.

    The company is obsessed with looking "premium" from the outside but it couldn't care less for its own people. The turnover is very high, people come and go in masses and nothing ever changes in the company. So I can only suggest to join AKQA if you're out of options.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    None. Resign?

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great company culture and amazing people, but does not set you up for success

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

    I worked at AKQA full-time

    Pros

    Very talented and smart people, best company culture I have encountered. Can work across different accounts. This is a place where age doesn't matter, you can climb the ladder really quickly if you have the right skills and are in with the political circle. If you are interested in digital experiences, this is the place for learning - it moves fast and the projects can be quite exciting.

    Cons

    Hours are very long, little work-life balance. This is the type of place where people will judge you if you leave work before 6 pm. Management is awful - if you are the person that seeks mentoring and teaching, forget it. It's very much sink or swim and if you don't know how to do something, you're on your own. Resourcing is disorganized and salaries are unimpressive considering the quality of work.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Take more time to mentor and teach your employees. Invest in them if you want them to invest in the quality of work. You cannot expect employees to work so hard for you and strive for your pillars of velocity when you are not making them feel as if you're investing in them, and willing to nurture the necessary skills they need to succeed.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Blue chip clients. No investment in people.

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

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

    Pros

    Best in class clients and projects. Smart, good, and cool employees. Able to touch and be exposed to a lot of different types of work.

    Cons

    No investment in people. Little vision from the top. You're sort of on your own here, there's no proactiveness towards retaining best people. It's only when you are out the door when they try to incentivize you.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in people. Invest in emerging disciplines. Commit to a vision and direction. Proactively reward top performers so they aren't forced to leave/job hunt. Provide career opportunities and paths.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11.  

    Made amazing friends, but creativity is dismal.

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

    I have been working at AKQA full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    - Great people, made amazing friends
    - Okay salary (Warning, they will always try to undercut you)
    - Nice office spaces

    Cons

    - Dictatorship with being fun and creative around the office, the office manager once hid all fun toys and signs when Ajaz was coming in for 20 minutes.

    - Agency thinks they are creative, however 9/10 they will do whatever the client wants, project mangers will take any kind of terrible work from client, just to keep their time allocation for every creative packed.

    - You work in a call center, because no one wants to make the environment fun

    - They hire people who bring nothing to the culture of the company, who love to do their 9-5 and go home.

    - They will show you a demo reel, watch closely as all the creative work are digital leaderboards.

    - Technology Innovation agency. You're kidding. IT gives incorrect, outdated, slow machines. Refuse to buy industry standard displays that every single creative agency uses, because they believe that Dell make the best displays. Even though, they are more expensive that the industry standard Apple Cinema Displays. The colors don't show up right. One time, our client made a observation that the white, was pink. during a presentation.

    - Don't even bother doing reimbursements. They take too long, and sometimes take two months to get to your account.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Allow creatives, to be creative.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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