30under30 Nominee Jason Taft

We interviewed Significant Insights Global 30 Under 30 Nominee Jason Taft who works at Sylver Consulting and is a Design Researcher and Analyst, and uses his background in product and graphic design to draw connections between new concept developments and end user need. Prior to his position at Sylver Consulting, Jason was applying his skill sets towards the development of new Covid PPE concepts by interviewing medical staff across the US about their needs during the pinnacle of the pandemic.

Take us through your industry journey so far? How did you arrive at this point?

My journey into the insights industry actually started during my time at the Cleveland Institute of Art as I was pursuing my degree in product design. Through the program we are taught extensively about the importance of consumer and market research when developing a new product, especially when the goal is to solve problems experienced by the end users. Out of all of the facets of the design process, I started to see a trend where I would really came to life during this research phase of every project and began looking for a way to make it my permanent career path.

After my sophomore year, I landed an internship at Fisher Price on the Infant team (responsible for brands such as Laugh & Learn) which really solidified my love of consumer insights. During my time there, I helped to develop and interpret personas of different shopping moms that would drive the toy designs for the 2020 infant line which was an amazing opportunity so early in my education.

During the rest of my undergraduate program I stayed closely involved in a variety of grant programs around Cleveland, ranging from developing new river bulkhead to assessing surgical ward processes at University Hospitals. Participating in research across such a wide scope of topic areas allowed me to really dive into the core of stakeholder insights and develop my techniques to a more real-world, professional level. The most notable of these grant projects was conducted in relation to the topic of Covid-19 PPE for the medical industry during the severe supply shortages in 2020. I led a team of 6 designers in the development of new PPE concepts while connecting with medical professionals all around the United States to gather their insights and experiences on the topic through extensive interviews.

The synthesis of these past experiences has helped to procure a unique skillset for myself that has prepared me for my current position as a design researcher at Sylver Consulting, where we tackle design and strategy insight projects for a wide range of Fortune 500 companies.

So, what’s so inspiring about our industry?

What I find to be so inspiring about our industry is that there is always more out there to discover. Research and insights is such an ever evolving field and as long as you have the passion for it, you will never get bored. I find this to be especially true in the research consulting world where you can end up on multiple projects at once that are all on completely different topics. This specific line of work creates an environment where those who are truly curious about the entirety of the world around them can thrive.

Something else that is incredibly inspiring about this industry is that it is made up of so many people of different backgrounds, both personally and professionally. It’s this beautiful diversity that allows the industry to thrive by not only learning from those we study but also those around us in this community. For example, my current firm includes people with backgrounds in business, law, philosophy, anthropology, design, and product development. One of my coworkers even holds a degree in puppetry which really shows the intense diversity in our staff. It is incredible to see how each of us bring our individual perspectives and experiences into our current work and that every single thing each of us has done can be applied to our current practice in some way.

At the end of the day, the inspiring nature of this industry all boils down to the singular concept of continual growth. Growing in knowledge, growing in empathy, and growing into your role as a researcher. One thing is for sure, from the moment you enter into an insights position to the moment you step out, you will never stop learning.

What message do you have for anyone considering a career in our industry?

My message for anyone considering a career in market insights would be to utilize your natural skills and interests, while never being afraid to keep an open mind and be adaptable. The more you foster your curiosity, the more you will find to enjoy while working in this field.

This industry is fast, shocking, and unpredictable, often to the extent that you will have to pivot or change course multiple times during a study. As long as you stay organized and dedicated to finding the core truths of the research you’re conducting, you can be extremely successful in your career. The pace of the industry is why we often see these positions full of quick thinkers and problem solving enthusiasts looking for that constant thrill.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be challenging along the way, but the intense rewarding feeling of finding those deep, well thought out insights and sharing them with your clients will keep you coming back for more time and time again.

How do very junior researchers stand out?

I believe that the best way to stand out in any professional setting is to be openly and authentically yourself. So many young professionals today try to fit into these boxes of the “perfect candidates” in their field and end up getting lost in the herd. Don’t be afraid to be weird, be unconventional, and above all, be creative.

Show your unique thirst for knowledge and love of learning and then back up that passion with your specific set of skills. Utilize your personal strengths to your advantage, and make sure to show future employers what makes you the individual that you are. Market research thrives on unique approaches to solving problems and gathering information in new, meaningful ways.

My best advice is to just put yourself out there and show them what you got!