30under30 Nominee Michelle Orack

We interviewed Significant Insights Global 30 Under 30 Nominee, Michelle Orack, who works at Conifer Research and is a Sr. Design Researcher, and who loves the blended backgrounds of her colleagues, which makes every project and discussion different and diverse.

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

I came into the industry by way of visual communication design. I always had a knack for creativity and art, in any medium. I was especially drawn to photography and its ability to capture a moment in time that can be organic and raw or prescriptive and persuasive. Much like being an observer as a researcher and working towards insights told through a meaningful narrative. Later on, I was drawn to the world of graphic design through a high school project that exposed me to the strategic meaning and connection a brand and its logo have. Pursuing that understanding of “why” led me to a design program that had a foundational focus on Design Thinking and Design Research. After spending time in the professional world as a designer, I continued to feel a pull to gain a deeper understanding and strategy behind my projects and how others in the world interact with and are influenced by them. That curiosity lead me to explore roles and organizations that would allow me to be more than just a graphic designer.  

So, what’s so inspiring about our industry?

What is inspiring about our industry is how much of an impact we have on other industries. We bring the voice of the users to life and advocate on their behalf. I also enjoy being invited to challenge assumptions, biases, hypotheses, and “common” knowledge within an organization to push boundaries and their thinking.

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

Stay curious, ask questions, and don’t shy away from talking about out-of-industry experiences. Your in-store retail job has given you experience talking and interacting with users!

How do very junior researchers stand out?

Very junior researchers can stand out by showing a dichotomy of enthusiasm and  conscientiousness. Be eager to jump in throughout the phases of a project, a lot of learning happens by doing. Being a good listener and observer to participants and teammates (which is likely to come fairly natural as a researcher) will set yourself up to gain more meaningful data, and gain exposure to different styles of research planning, data collection, and analysis to allow you to find a method that works the best for you. There isn’t one way to go set up a project or work through data.