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 research and insights? 

I’ve always been both analytical and fascinated by human behavior. I think a lot of that stemmed from – or was strengthened by – the fact that I grew up with Deaf parents and was always shifting between the Deaf and hearing worlds. I loved observing the differences in culture and behavior and trying to figure out why people do what they do.

When I got to college, I ended up studying finance, satisfying my analytical side, and psychology, satisfying my interest in people, but wasn’t quite sure what that meant in terms of a career. Out of college I took a role as a financial analyst at General Mills. A couple years into my time in finance, I began working with a cross-functional team on Pillsbury Innovation, and it was there I discovered the world of insights. 

That was the big unlock for me – a career that combined analytics and human behavior, a career spent analyzing people and why they do what they do. I was hooked and fortunate enough to have had the support of the organization – and a couple amazing individuals in particular – to make the transition to insights. And for that I am forever grateful.

Do you have any tips for researchers looking to drive influence with business partners and ensure insights are not only shared but also acted upon? 

Yes! I’m so passionate about this topic. My biggest tip? Apply what you’re already skilled at doing as a researcher to your business partners. Build empathy for them, understand their needs, what they care about, what influences them and why. Then figure out how you can help them. Do they need information to help them make a decision? Do they need insight to illuminate the path forward? Do they need something they don’t yet know they need? Just ...