30Under30 Nominee: Hannah Reed

Great to hear from 30 under 30 nominee, Hannah Reed, who is Qualitative Research Manager at Walnut Unlimited. With a background in retail strategy and innovation, Hannah puts human understanding at the heart of all her projects and indeed at the heart of all she does.

So, how did you get into the industry, and take us through how you got to this point

At university, I studied Fashion Management, where exploring consumer behaviour through a retail lens sparked my interest in understanding people’s lifestyles, and decoding what makes them tick. Learning about sub-cultures and the fast-changing trends fascinated me, especially from a digital perspective.

I was lucky enough to land my dream role as a Junior Researcher at a retail innovation start-up. Here I put my creative skills and business acumen to the test and got huge exposure to a range of high-profile clients. This gave me the opportunity to get hands-on with the commercial side of developing long-term strategies.

I then moved to Opinium, which introduced me to all things Market Research. Opinium’s consultancy-style culture enabled me to deep-dive across qual, quant, and everything in-between! I was encouraged to work on projects across an array of sectors. This is where I unlocked my love for Qualitative research.

Fast-forward to today, where I am a Research Manager at Walnut Unlimited. I work on a wide variety of exciting projects, covering anything from skincare to luxury cars! No two days are the same and I love immersing myself in a clients challenge so that they can better understand and connect with their customers.

What are you most proud of from your career so far?

I am proud of my journey so far and the relationships I have built with my colleagues and clients. One of my proudest moments was at Opinium, when we won agency of the year 2021 – I will never forget the feeling of ecstasy and excitement that swept the office. At Walnut, I am proud of being an integral part of the team, supporting on our mentorship programme and being a collaboration champion. I am proud to work for an agency that fosters a culture of growth and empowerment.

What two things should junior researchers focus on as they progress in their careers?

Firstly, focus on being a sponge! I know that may sound weird, but really soak in all the new learning and opportunities that are presented to you. Your first few years are the best time to explore different methodologies and sectors. Try and get involved in lots of different things to understand your strengths and passion points, as well as key areas for you to develop further – see everything as a key learning opportunity!

Secondly, a practical skill I would focus on is effective communication. Being able to clearly communicate with your colleagues and clients can be ground-breaking – it’s the foundation of everything we do as researchers. Nailing this skill early on will help you as your progress in your career, allowing you to succinctly get your ideas across, improve your organisation, and work collaboratively with those around you.

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

If you want a career that is fun, varied and rewarding, then research is for you! One day you could be delving into a new packaging design for a major retailer, and the next you could be assisting a charity with pushing for policy change. Each day is different and brings its own delights.

You will hear most people saying how they ‘fell into research’, and this is because there are so many avenues into the industry. You don’t have to have an analytical or psychology background to start your journey. Instead, focus on the transferable skills you have, and what sets you apart as an individual. The richness and diversity of the research industry is what makes it so special.

Do you have any advice for our sector as a whole?

There has been so much movement in the sector towards being more diverse, inclusive, and sustainable. I hope we continue doing research for good and helping our clients in their journeys to becoming better brands and businesses.

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? 

Firstly, I’d like to shout out my first manager Rachel Arthur, who is one of the most inspirational women I have met – her work ethic, dedication and passion towards the fashion and sustainability sector is one I greatly admire.

Secondly, James and the team at Opinium for equipping me with all the tools for becoming a well-rounded researcher – shoutout to Lorien and Jo for introducing me into the world of qual, and all the great execs I had the pleasure of working with along the way (you all know who you are!).

Lastly, my line manager Sunita who has been the best support during my time at Walnut – her energy, enthusiasm, and encouragement has guided me greatly the past year. She is one of the many amazing people that I have the pleasure of working with at Walnut, and is always bringing the good vibezzz.