Great to hear from Significant Insights Global 30under30 Honouree Laura Lum! Laura is Research manager at Global Market Research Agency 2CV, driving strategic and empathetic solutions for clients through her work in user research and usability testing for app and product development.
So, how did you get into the industry, and take us through how you got to this point?
I’ve always been interested in understanding the ‘why’ behind everything and what makes people tick. I majored in Sociology for this very reason, but at the same time, was unsure of what field to go into that would satisfy my drive for curiosity.
In my second year, I stumbled upon the TNS (now Kantar) booth at my university job fair and left my name with a recruiter. The next thing I knew, I interviewed for a role as a qualitative research intern and the rest was history!
The most fulfilling thing for me is the diversity and richness of projects that I’ve embarked on. I started focusing on public policy and communications research, working with government agencies and NGOs to support campaigns and initiatives from environmental conservation to mental health.
Since then, I’ve branched out into user experience research at 2CV in the technology and entertainment space. No one project is the same, and every project I see as a learning experience to broaden my horizons and build both hard and soft skills.
Career paths are rarely without challenges. Can you share an honest moment from your career when things didn’t go quite according to plan, but the lessons remain with you to this day?
With the advent of the pandemic, I have been through times of restructuring – seeing teams dwindle and facing swift changes in work scopes and responsibilities took their toll on my morale.
Amidst the changes, it was a great learning opportunity for me to step up and go beyond. It was a valuable time of exposure to clients, relationship-building and getting out of my comfort zone.
What two things should junior researchers focus on as they progress in their careers?
If I could sum it up in a simple acronym that would be easy to remember, it would be ‘CAP’:
- Curiosity is the key driving force of the work that researchers do. Asking as many questions as you can and taking opportunities to consult your teammates not only shows your enthusiasm to learn but is also a great way to nourish and accumulate one’s knowledge bank – something that will prove valuable in years to come.
- Attitude is about having a strong work ethic and being committed to delivering value to clients
- With the right attitude, proactivity follows. Showcasing your attitude in tangible ways is equally as important. This can manifest in many ways – being a good team player, taking on projects that take you out of your comfort zone, or not being afraid to voice opinions or different ways of thinking.
How do we ensure that students and those leaving school aspire to join our sector?
Many people care about creating a broader impact in the work that they do. Helping students to understand what market research is about and the effect that they can make on the wider community, businesses and brands may inspire students to the field.
Our sector is also a diverse and dynamic one, with many opportunities to diversify or specialise in various fields of interest: from technology to public policy to FMCG.
Do you have advice for our sector?
In a ‘digital first’ era, adopting technologies to sharpen data collection processes, research methodologies and presentation of insights can future-proof our industry and ensure its relevance in the years to come.
The pace of adoption has been expedited with the pandemic, with online focus groups and online communities becoming a mainstay, and being extensively adopted. The use of virtual reality and artificial intelligence as research tools present new and exciting opportunities ahead.
And do you have anyone who has helped your career so far that you’d like to acknowledge and say thanks or give a shout-out to?
In my entire journey, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and collaborating alongside talented and passionate researchers and mentors in the industry. A big thank you to the team at 2CV for the support and guidance during my time here.