McMillan Reviews

Updated Jul 21, 2020

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4.2
87%
Recommend to a Friend
75%
Approve of CEO
McMillan Founder and Chief Creative Officer  Gordon McMillan (no image)
Gordon McMillan
4 Ratings
Pros
  • "Emphasis is on doing great work while maintaining a work/life balance(in 8 reviews)

  • "That being said, life goes on and I have some solid work in my portfolio and enjoyed my time there working with a lot of super talented people(in 6 reviews)

Cons
More Pros and Cons
  1. Helpful (1)

    "The Future"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at McMillan full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    It's been nearly four months since McMillan's owner had to make an incredibly difficult decision to completely restructure his company that he started back in 96. Unfortunately it resulted in many layoffs, including extraordinarily talented individuals and dear friends of mine. It has not been easy on the soul... But with this change there has been career growth opportunities for myself and my colleagues that were fortunate enough to be part of the new era. We are now a much smaller version of what we were which has created a tighter knit crew, internal efficiencies from the removal of layers across disciplines, and the feeling like your contributions are truly noticed, appreciated and necessary to the company's success. Though we lost incredibly talented people and friends during this restructure process, those of us that remain are committed to having fun while collaborating with each other to create great work that we're proud of. Autonomy is at an all-time high which has always been a core attribute I've appreciated during my years at McMillan. We expect each other to be good teammates and communicate effectively if we are relying on each other. When you know you can rely on your colleague to give you the information you need to create great work, great things can happen. The biggest positive change I have noticed over the past few months is that everyone has a voice. Good ideas are good ideas and get actioned quickly. No matter if you are a new designer out of college or managing the day-to-day office needs of your colleagues; if you have an idea that makes us a stronger company, it gets listened to and actioned. This is a huge benefit of working in a small group with people that are extremely talented at their craft and what they are responsible for.

    Cons

    Not enough dogs at the office anymore. The Albert no longer works here.

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  2. "McMillan"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Creative in Ottawa, ON
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I worked at McMillan for a few years and was always treated well, fairly. Sadly, I was let go during a restructuring which was caused by a downturn in business. That being said, life goes on and I have some solid work in my portfolio and enjoyed my time there working with a lot of super talented people. Ended too soon for me!

    Cons

    Just miss the great folks I worked with there.

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  3. "It was the best place in Ottawa to work."

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Production Artist in Ottawa, ON
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at McMillan full-time

    Pros

    The culture, people, location all amazing! Vibrant creative people.

    Cons

    Although many people has issues working here, I never did. Was treated well, and compensated well.

  4. Helpful (7)

    "Oh what a difference a year makes"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - N/A in Ottawa, ON
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at McMillan full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    The employees. The most talented, dedicated and supportive people I have ever worked with. Hard working professionals devoted to the company, their craft and the success of our clientele. Collectively focused on consistently raising the bar. A unique work culture that was more like a family than anything else. Quirky, unique, loving and fun. Always willing to help each other succeed and to celebrate together.

    Cons

    The incompetence of the owner and executive in general. A complete management disaster. Expensive senior acquisitions that didn't pan out. Taking key employees for granted and letting them walk. Multiple attempts at reorganizing work structure and process that only resulted in confusion and a lack of cohesion. Manipulating creatives to work overtime with the promise of compensation, which was woefully inadequate. Firing client teams to appease clients, which only made everyone feel expendable. Inept and completely ineffective business development. Promoting people to roles that they were clearly not suited for. The arrogance of executive perks while people are being laid off. And then finally the almost complete collapse of the firm. Dozens dismissed without warning or severance or any hope of ever being justly rewarded for years (or in some cases decades) of dedicated service. A 23-year legacy, due primarily to the hard work of the employees, gone in 12 months.

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  5. Helpful (4)

    "Identity crisis?"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Negative Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Talented people, accessible execs, wide range of experts from who you can learn from, great office spaces and openness to new ideas, fun no-drama colleagues, events outside of work.

    Cons

    We position ourselves as a brand experience agency, but we often accept work/projects that are disconnected from our strengths. It takes a lot of time to even know where we are going in terms of projects or processes. People are strong-willed, committed to great work but disorganized to make it happen. Nobody really knows who owns what, roles are unclear so too much time is taken before we do what we do best.

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  6. Helpful (8)

    "Opportunities and Dangers"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Strategist in Ottawa, ON
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at McMillan full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Beautiful office, great peers, above-average pay, and international exposure. You'll find some of the most talented writers and designers in Ottawa, and the sense of camaraderie is strong. You'll learn a lot in the first two-three years from experienced and passionate colleagues. But leave before you get complacent...or fired unexpectedly.

    Cons

    - Consistent track record of tolerating toxic personalities in management, firing them long after the damage is done - Poor communication from the top. Your coworkers might disappear (one-at-a-time over a week or two, or all at once, like recently). Clients might disappear. The company strategy changes regularly without clear goals that everyone can get behind. - Creative teams are treated well, but account, development, and administrative staff are often left felt like second-class citizens with few opportunities to advance - Mid-level managers, including creative directors, often complain that they have little control, with most decisions dictated from the top.

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    McMillan Response

    CEO

    I appreciate your perspective. Indeed, our industry is different than most, which can be both exhilarating and frustrating at times. We strive to strike a balance between client requests and building a healthy culture. It’s not easy, but we do take it seriously and we strive to do our best—we know there’s room for improvement. Thanks for your advice on connecting more with the creative community, I think we can learn, collaborate, and grow by being more involved. Wishing you the best in your next endeavour. Best, Pierre Paul

  7. Helpful (19)

    "What happened to McMillan?"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Ottawa, ON
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    This used to be an amazing place to work. The culture was phenomenal. Moral was always high. Work was a bit dull, but still thriving. Work/life balance was decent. Salaries and profit sharing was decent.

    Cons

    Things started going down hill really fast after the new CEO was announced. Empty promises. Failed company ambitions. A major shift in culture. Now, moral is at an all-time low. Clients don’t see us as trusted advisors and work/projects are dwindling. Layoffs are frequent and significant. And the CEO doesn’t even know my name, or my title for that matter.

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    McMillan Response

    CEO

    Although it was difficult to read, I appreciate your comment. I can understand that a change in leadership is not always welcomed and that our newest direction may not appeal to you. As I embrace the role of CEO and put in place a plan that I believe will ultimately help us succeed and grow, I admit there are challenges along the way. This past year we had a significant reduction in revenue from a big client and have yet to replace it, thus requiring some layoffs. There’s no doubt about it, it’s really tough to square balancing the books with our culture. And yes, it can have a direct impact on morale. I appreciate your perspective and invite you to reach out to me to talk more about your concerns. The quality of life at work is important to me and it sounds like you may have some good ideas to contribute. Best, Pierre Paul

  8. Helpful (8)

    "Who Poisoned the Water Here?"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at McMillan full-time

    Pros

    McMillan has always recruited well, so they have a strong core of extremely creative people, and a few genuine superstars. The workplace is beautiful and encourages collaboration. Salaries are competitive among senior management.

    Cons

    In less than a year, McMillan has gone from being one of the most sought after agencies in Ottawa, drawing new hires from Toronto on a regular basis, to a company that appears to be sinking rapidly. The company has laid off some of its most experienced creatives, and seems to have completely abandoned its hard-won reputation as a great place to work. Current employees are shopping their CVs around and telling anyone who will listen how bad morale has become at McMillan. Rumours abound that the agency is being positioned for a takeover.

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    McMillan Response

    CEO

    I appreciate your comments, even if they aren’t exactly supportive. As you may already know, ours is a volatile business, and other agencies are experiencing similar impacts and transitions. Current market constraints have required us to make some pretty significant changes. It’s not something we take lightly—everyone at McMillan, including the talent that we needed to let go, are either at the top of their game or well on their way. It’s the toughest part of my job, balancing the books and the culture. Also, for the record, there is no appetite nor plan to sell the agency. My commitment as CEO, and that of Gordon and the other executives, is to continue to build a great agency that does great work and supports a great work culture. Yes, it’s a work in progress, but I’m confident we’ll get there. Wishing you the best going forward, truly. Cheers, Pierre Paul

  9. "A great place to work with lots of creative people!"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at McMillan full-time

    Pros

    Humble, honest people, Executive team is always open to suggestions from employees, Great, fun culture, Well lit office space in the market, Flexible hours, Personal appointment time off, birthday off volunteer day off, Ability to work from home (sometimes/with good reason), The Albert!

    Cons

    Benefits can be improved (e.g. no RRSP, no maternity leave benefit, no dietician, etc.) Vacation days are below expected

    McMillan Response

    CEO

    Thanks for your positive comments. There’s definitely a good work/life balance here at McMillan, which is not always the case in the agency world. We’ll look at upping our benefits as noted, appreciate your input! Best, Pierre Paul

  10. "Positive workplace with a growing performance culture"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Ottawa, ON
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at McMillan full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    No egos Competitive salary and benefits Friendly and supportive working environment Not hierarchical Focused on positive growth and performance Respectful Fun Locally owned and operated No micro-management styles

    Cons

    Opportunity to improve and formalize some processes for how teams can/should work together. At times teams people can become silo'd and lack clarity roles and expectations for projects. Opportunity to become firmer with regards to performance management to help demonstrate clear and defined expectations.

    McMillan Response

    CEO

    Thanks for your positive input. We’ll strive to keep it up as we move the needle. I appreciate your comments on structure and process. As part of our growth plan, we’re transitioning to a model that allows for more flexibility, higher creative value, and better client responsiveness. It’s a constant juggle that requires patience and adjustments along the way, but we know we’ll land it. Best, Pierre Paul

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