We interviewed Significant Insights Global 30 Under 30 Nominee, Harry Gove who is currently Research Manager at OnePoll, a mid-sized market research agency based in Bristol. Harry has been in the market research field for just a few years, rising through the ranks quickly and establishing himself as a passionate and dedicated researcher.
Hi Harry, take us through your industry journey so far? How did you arrive at this point?
I’ve had a passion for understanding human behaviour since my early teens, and when the time came to do my A-levels, I knew already that I had to take Psychology and find out more! Whilst at 6th form to try and delve into the world of research further I attended a weekly Psychology club and even hosted a couple of sessions. This experience just made me hungry for more, and I knew after a few months that this is what I wanted to take at university.
I took my first steps into a career in research whilst undergoing my BSc in Psychology at the University of Bath, taking a placement year at the University of Bristol in a tobacco and alcohol research group. This year in industry introduced me to a variety of different research methods and really hooked me into pursuing a career as a researcher! After finishing university, I knew for sure that I wanted to enter the field of research, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity yet. During this time I had originally planned to continue in the academic route of a Masters and PhD, but felt after 4 years of study that I was keen to get some real world experience, which meant that when I came across the opening at OnePoll I leapt at the opportunity to get stuck into the world of research!
I began my market research career in 2018 as a research assistant, and over the past 3 years have worked my way up at OnePoll to the research manager position which I am in today. Over this time I’ve taken on learning opportunities as frequently as possible, attending numerous MRS talks and training sessions (including the MRS summer school, and ACAS essential skills for supervisors training). I have also built my client liaison skills successfully over this time, at the start of my research career this was something I had almost no experience with, but over time working with clients on a daily basis and taking part in phone and video calls about projects, as well as running Lunch & Learn sessions more recently to help clients understand how we at OnePoll can help them to achieve their research aims effectively. Over this time as my confidence has built, I’ve found clients requesting me specifically to work on their forthcoming projects which is a great honour and a real sign of how far I have come. Even during the challenges of the pandemic and a move to home working for 15 months, and hybrid working more recently I feel that I have thrived in my role, and would champion flexible working where it is possible as I have found that this gives researchers the opportunity to work on projects to a schedule which best suits their working style and meet client needs.
All of this experience and these learning opportunities have helped to build the skills I need to become an effective Research Manager, and to be the best researcher I can for my company, whilst opening myself up for future developments in my career.
Whilst my original plan after completing my studies was to continue into the academic route, rather than market research, I found that after just a few months I knew this was an industry that I wanted to build myself a career in due to the rewarding nature of the work and being able to have a finger on the pulse of the UK public, meaning that I get to learn new things every day about how people feel and behave. As part of my ongoing career plan though, a return to more studying either part-time or full-time, is something which I wouldn’t rule out as I’m always looking to improve my skills!
So, what’s so inspiring about our industry?
Working in market research has enabled me to explore my passions for research, in particular research which is for social good (working with charities has been a particular passion of mine, from topics of sustainability, to studies on adults literacy and numeracy levels and the impacts these can have). The opportunity to work with brands who are looking to impact people’s lives in a positive way is a great thing, because as researchers we have the ability to put our finger on the pulse of how the British public feel about important topics.
I feel that the market research industry is unique even within the world of research. Having worked in academia in my placement year, I did find this a very rewarding field to work in, however often things can move at a slower pace with projects taking place over a much longer time period. I have found that working in market research (and particular with the PR field) is the reverse of this, with many projects at the same time and new tasks all the time. This leads to quick personal growth and development within the field, and the opportunity to work on various different projects from quick polls to take a measure of how Brits feel about current topics in the news (I’ve had the chance to work on projects delving into the Black Lives Matter movement & the UKs withdrawal from Afghanistan to name just a couple) to longer deep dives into specific target groups like teachers or SME business owners in order to build industry reports.
I feel that there is no other industry which would benefit researchers like myself to have an impact on the world, as you have the ability to work with businesses and industry leaders to provide powerful and informative insight, which is then be used to make changes in the real world.
What message do you have for anyone considering a career in our industry?
Short answer – do it! Honestly though, as someone with a Psychology background especially I have found this to be a really rewarding industry as you will experience such a great variety of work on a daily basis, and really get an opportunity to delve into the minds of consumers. The market research industry is perfect if you like a job where every day is different, and you will have the chance to develop your skills and career in a way which suits you, due to the numerous research methods and areas of speciality which are on offer. It is also a really rewarding field to work in because when you finish off a project which you know will have an impact in the real world, it’s great to feel a part of that and know that you helped to lead the research in the right direction and ensure that it was carried out in the best way.
How do very junior researchers stand out?
I think there are many ways to stand out when you are in a very junior position, but I would say the most important is an eagerness to have a strong work ethic and take on new challenges and projects which might be beyond their comfort zone, as this is the best way to build your skills quickly and highlight yourself as an important member of the team.
Junior researchers are in a great position as they do not have the years of experience behind them pushing them into a particular research direction, so they can put a fresh pair of eyes onto briefs and think of creative research methods to ensure that market research can be delivered which meets the clients aims, and bring a different perspective.
Those researchers at the start of their careers should be asking as many questions as they can, as it’s a great way to learn as much as possible straight away and even identify things that other more senior members of the team might not have spotted, they shouldn’t be afraid to voice their opinion on a matter if they think that something could be done in a new way.
They should want to push their enthusiasm for research and their specific passions within the industry to help them stand out and make sure that more senior members can help guide them towards projects which will best suit them and they can get excited about, and not be afraid to say what their shortcomings are to ensure that they can get the training which will help them.