Q&A with a corporate 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. 

You’ve worked in several industries – CPG, pharma, lottery, etc. How do these experiences impact your current role at Brunswick?

All the formative experiences I’ve had play a vital role in how I do my job today. I spent the early part of my career in a different functional area altogether, cross-selling cash management services to the multinational clients of a financial institution. That’s where I first learned the art of client service and business development, how to develop a cost-benefit analysis and influence decision-makers. 

After business school, I transitioned to the CPG industry and learned to tell stories with data – first on the supplier side and then on the client side. My next role was global, encompassing insights and analytics for base business and new products, but I had to switch industries to get the opportunity to broaden my skill set.

Building an insights function for the Illinois Lottery gave me the chance to recruit a new team from scratch, play a lead role in strategic planning and interact with all stakeholder levels across brand, marketing, sales, digital, public relations, legal and even finance!

Each of these experiences were important building blocks in helping me drive insights adoption at Brunswick.

What is the most challenging aspect of conducting research from a direct-to-consumer perspective?

Data quality is so important and highly scrutinized – if you can’t trust the data collection method, it’s impossible to draw conclusions – so we work with research partners who have the highest data quality standards, employ trusted moderators and are leaders in the best practices of survey design. An adjunct challenge is finding the right consumers to sample at a reasonable cost.

Do you have any tips for researchers looking to remove internal data silos?  

Yes! Give yourself plenty of time because it won’t happen overnight. But when it does, it’s incredible.

Adopting new tools, data and technology is a good place to start, but true culture change requires mobilizing the right people, training them on how to fully leverage those tools and integrate them into their existing processes.

Describe a positive mentoring relationship you’ve experienced as a research professional.

I’ve taken something from my experience with every manager – either behaviors to emulate or ones to avoid – but the most instrumental person in my transition to consumer insights and strategy was the woman who took a chance on me and brought me in as a freelancer at Kraft, when I was just a newly minted MBA with a background in financial services and sales. 

Not only is she a wonderful friend and kindred spirit, but she has had such a positive influence on my life and career. We became closer once I moved on to a new role, and developed more of a peer relationship, but her support and wisdom has always been a confidence-booster as well as a coping mechanism when life’s challenges inevitably surface.

I used to think it was important to have a dedicated mentor to help with your career, but I’ve since learned that it’s too much pressure to be the sole advisor. Now I prefer to have a network of folks I can reach out to for advice on various topics, based on their areas of expertise and how quickly I can get a hold of them!