Women in Research (WIRe) hosted its first Asia event in Singapore on 19 April 2018. And our Singapore office were proud to be the venue sponsor! The focus of the event was ‘staying relevant in research’. It elicited a great response and attracted researchers from market research agencies and client-side alike. There were quite a few men too!
Our Client Director Gayatri Srikant attended the event and hosted the panel discussion. In this blogpost, Gayatri shares insights from the panel discussion (as well as the full video), and reveals her own takeaways from the event.
Panel discussion: Reinventing and staying relevant in the research world
I had the privilege of chairing the event’s panel discussion on the topic of reinventing and staying relevant in the market research industry. It was an esteemed and respected panel comprising Nichola Rastrick, Director of Consumer Insights (Asia) at Netflix, Rashmi Rammohan, Co-Founder of FlexiBees, Ying Xin, Director of Customer Success (APAC) at Vision Critical, and Andrew Lau, Principal Survey Consultant at MVA Asia Ltd.
Here are just some of the many tips and advice the panel shared, about what innovation in research means and how to stay relevant:
- Nichola: “We, as an industry, love being techy experts […]. But if we don’t underpin that with a really strong appreciation of technology, we are already out of the game. […] I’ve had to really gen up on technology in order to be able to stay in the conversation.”
- Rashmi: “The [job] descriptions seem so close to what we used to do, but the technical skills […] are not. […] For women who have taken a break, […] there is a need to up our skills on the tech aspect.”
- Andrew: “We don’t innovate because we have to innovate, but we innovate because we enjoy innovation. […] For me, it was really a mindset change. […] You have to enjoy working with technology. That is innovation.”
- Nichola: “If you don’t have women on a team, you’re only getting half the conversation. [… But] staying relevant is much more than about our gender […]. You have to have diversity on your team which reflects the society within which you play.”
- Ying: “It’s really about being flexible and about looking for the opportunities, for you to learn new things and apply some of those skills laterally.”
How to propel yourself forward and stay relevant in research: 5 takeaways
Before the panel discussion, we also heard from two speakers: Joanne Fairhead, Executive Director of Research (SEA) at The Walt Disney Company, and Charlotte Wilkinson, Founder of Hello Sister. Joanne talked about how she changed perceptions in the Walt Disney world by embracing positive language and behavior. And Charlotte spoke about women as entrepreneurs.
As I introspected on what I learned from the discussions and the speakers, these were my five main takeaways on how women (and men) can propel themselves forward and stay relevant in the research industry:
- The world is changing for everyone. Agility and efficiency are now the norm. It’s no longer a unique distinction. Without agility and speed, you will be as relevant as a dodo. Embrace technology in research. But, bring your nuance to it.
- Take that first step! If you want something, reach for it. ‘Being a woman’ is only a barrier if you believe it to be. Within market research, there are growth opportunities not only in the form of hierarchical movement, but also lateral shifts or entrepreneurial opportunities. A move out of the country is also a growth in itself: discovering how consumers and clients behave in a different country is a great learning curve.
- The research field has a good representation of women, but we need more women in leadership roles. So, ask. Women tend not to ask as much as men. Charlotte Wilkinson mentioned that men ask when they are 80% ready, while women do so only when they are 120% ready. Whether it’s the next role, a new profile or more pay, ask. At worst, you will get a no. But at least you won’t have regrets and your company will know what you want.
- You do not need to exhibit typical male behavior to further your career. Play to your strengths. Women are generally more empathetic. We are great trainers and mentors. And we can be very rational when it comes to making decisions. This is important in the changing ecosystem and very relevant in our industry, which is also about understanding people.
- Diversity in a team is not just about gender. Diversity is about race, gender, age, perspective and so many other things. Most importantly, it needs to reflect the country and the culture you are in. As a policy maker or a team leader, look for diversity that is reflective of where you are.
The event was a chance to network and make friends with many fellow researchers. The atmosphere of the event brought the barriers down and we did what we do best – talk, laugh, communicate and exchange ideas. It was a great experience and I plan to stay connected with the people I met and the WIRe group.
Gayatri Srikant is a Client Director in our Singapore office. She enjoys finding ways to innovate and speed up research; and the challenge of designing research that works across different markets, while capturing local nuances. You can reach out to her at gayatri.srikant AT metrixlab.com or on +(65) 9654 1401.