Q&A with a client-side researcher

Editor's note: If you're an end-client researcher and interested in participating in a Q&A with Quirk's, please e-mail me at emilyk@quirks.com.

What led you to a career in marketing research and insights? 

When I was very young, I was fascinated by kids around me who had come from other countries. Their languages and views were so different from my other friends, and I wanted to learn more about them. In college, I didn’t know what major to pursue so I read through course listings noting what interested me. Anthropology kept coming up so that was my major. I also completed a minor in psychology just by signing up for courses that interested me. 

After completing my MBA in finance and international business, I was job hunting and happened to visit a foundation that worked with Japanese companies. One company needed an American employee to do econometric forecasting and market research. Fortunately, my interests and studies qualified me for the role and my career was launched. 

Could you share advice for researchers who are struggling to prove business value to key stakeholders? 

To prove business value, you and your stakeholders must define that value together. Do your homework before that discussion, we are researchers after all! Make sure you understand the business value your stakeholders deliver to the organization and how they do it. Build trust by reinforcing that you succeed when they succeed. Not every research effort will add the value you expect but your commitment to partnership will help you earn opportunities and success will come. 

Do you have any tips for research and insight teams that struggle to say no to research projects they believe will not provide business value? 

If you can deliver reliable answers to stakeholder questions, you’re in business! Sometimes you figure out that you can’t deliver reliable answers, that it’s too costly or that you can’t get it done quickly enough. Be transparent about how you reach your conclusion and validate it with the requestor. They will learn things from you, or they may find an error in your evaluation and then you’ve learned something from them! 

What excites you about coming to work each day? 

I’ve always been a puzzle/problem-solving person. I enjoy unveiling the hidden answer or solution. It excites me to come to work and develop solutions that help my clients succeed – and that translates to the continued success of Mutual of America in achieving its mission.