30Under30 Honouree: Jessica Huddleston

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Great to hear from our 2023 Global 30-under30 honouree, Jessica Huddleston, who works as a Market Research Manager at SKIM, a global insights agency. There she partners with clients to help understand how consumers and professionals make decisions. Jessica is a partner to several global clients and has led several global brand communication research studies.

After graduating with an undergraduate degree in Marketing, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I decided to attend the Disney College Program in Orlando, Florida. I vividly remember sitting in a seminar with a panel of Disney executives from various departments, and a woman from the consumer insights team was describing what her job entailed and her day-to-day responsibilities. I instantly had a “light bulb” moment where I realized that’s exactly what I want to do as a career!

I decided to continue my education, specifically focused on market research, and pursued a Masters of Marketing Research (MMR) degree at the University of Georgia. Getting my MMR degree at Georgia was the best decision I made for my career! Not only did I learn tools and techniques from their industry-driven curriculum, but this program also has a devoted alumni network that’s willing to help students. Through the mentorship program, I got introduced to SKIM and felt given their areas of expertise and opportunities for growth and development it would be the perfect match.

I’ve been at SKIM for 4 and a half years now and have grown so much since starting out as an analyst. I’ve been lucky enough to get involved in several internal initiatives including enhancing client deliverables through data visualisation and dashboard. I’ve been exposed to a variety of research approaches and have successfully managed several complex studies including overseeing a large global study (over 20 markets) for one of SKIM’s largest clients. Although it wasn’t always an easy path to get here, I feel so grateful to be doing what I love as my career!

I’m particularly proud of how much I have learned so that now I am able to onboard and guide new hires at our company who are beginning their market research profession. I love being involved in training, passing along any knowledge I have gained already, and being a trusted resource for others. I think it’s very important to share what I have learned so far and I plan on continuing to do so as I advance in my career!

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As junior researchers grow in their careers, I think it’s very beneficial to start networking and getting involved in various market research organisations. Whether that’s attending events, becoming a member of associations, or reaching out to others on LinkedIn, there are plenty of opportunities to grow your network. You’ll soon realise how niche this industry is, so making quality connections with other professionals will only help you as you develop in your career.

Also, it’s important to try new things, especially if it’s outside of your comfort zone. You won’t know if you truly enjoy doing something until you do it, so I encourage everyone to take on different opportunities. There are so many opportunities within market research including different industries, methodologies, and even technologies; so there are definitely plenty of things to try! Specifically embracing new and uncomfortable tasks will help you advance your skills, gain experience, and achieve your goals.

If you want to be a part of a constantly evolving industry, have the power to influence decisions with data, and experience variety in your work, then a career in market research is for you! You’ll have opportunities to learn new skills and implement the latest technology as innovation is always happening. Marketing research is truly a collaborative community, so you’re going to be exposed to different perspectives from diverse groups of people. Some days may be challenging, but it’s all worth it once you see your work making an impact!

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I think it’s valuable for our industry to embrace the ever-changing consumer landscape. People are like chameleons these days, shifting preferences and behaviours. Keeping tabs on social trends, decision-making behaviours, and cultural shifts will help you stay ahead of the game.

I’m very thankful for everyone who has helped me in my career so far, but I want to give a special shout out to Remy Thim, who started out as my mentor from the MMR program and eventually became a colleague at SKIM! I wouldn’t be where I am today without her support and encouragement as I grow and develop in my career. She’s taught me so much and I’m grateful for her advice and guidance!