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. 

I started off college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in a major unrelated to research. A few months in, I didn’t feel that it was the right fit for me and I dropped out of my major. Undecided, I started taking – and crashing! – classes in a variety of subjects to see what interested me. I took an economics course and it felt relevant to me, and I could connect the dots between what I learned in the classroom and what I saw in the outside world. Combined with having a more generalist mind-set, this ultimately led to my first job at Ipsos, where I could apply my social science background along with my diverse interests to tackle business challenges. 

Prior to COVID-19, we did a considerable amount of in-person research. This was everything from ethnography to shopper intercepts at properties, observational research during market tours, IDIs and focus groups, you name it! And suddenly, all of the tools either had to shift to digital methods or be paused in the interim. We had to adapt to more agile approaches and really make sure our insights were highly actionable in the current situation to each audience.  

Since the pandemic started, I have made it a part of the standard research process to conduct stakeholder interviews at the beginning of a project. I identify a variety of stakeholders – those who are both the end receiver of the insights, as well as other cross-functional members who will benefit from the research, even if it’s not directly applicable. This helps to make them feel more involved in the outcome and also helps keep our team more top-of-mind if they do have other business questions in the future. I also schedule check-in meetings periodically throughout the year so that the lines of communication remain open. 

It’s a...