30Under30 Honouree: Isabel Parashos

Great to hear from our 2023 Global 30-under30 honouree, Isabel Parashos, Senior Insights Consultant who leads global brand and segment research at Xero.

After my final university marketing presentation, the course co-coordinator asked me if I had ever considered a career in market research which I hadn’t. Shortly after this conversation, I met the owners of a research agency in Sydney and mentioned that I was considering a career in research – fate! I started working for them and some other boutique agencies around Sydney doing a range of jobs from checking data, note-taking for focus groups and cutting out smiley faces as part of home ethnography kits. Once I finished university, I moved to London in 2017 where I worked for 2 years at a primarily quantitative agency and 2 years at a primarily qualitative agency – Although these agencies had their specialisms, I was able to work across a variety of mixed method projects and sectors including a range of projects for Xero.

I joined Xero in 2021 to lead our segments and UK cross-functional research and since then my role has expanded to include global brand research. After 7 years in the industry, I am still trying to figure out why the course co-coordinator suggested a career in research, but I’m glad he did.

The piece of work that gives me the most pride is definitely the global segmentation research I led at Xero. It won the Research Association [of] New Zealands’ Insights Communication award and has been recently nominated for the Global Marketing Research Project and B2B Research Project at Quirks Marketing Research and Insight Excellence awards – it’s great to have that recognition among industry leaders but I also still feel pride when I see a references to the work internally! 

I think keeping an open mind and sense of curiosity is key to a career in the research industry – some of the most interesting and impactful studies I’ve ever done were ones that initially didn’t sound like something you’d want to talk about at a dinner party when explaining your job.

I’m also a big believer in embracing variety and the test and learn approach as you can learn what works, what doesn’t but most importantly what you like. I’ve been lucky to be involved in different research methodologies, sectors and types of research – I believe it makes me a more effective researcher because I have an understanding of what is important to different stakeholders and all the ways we can approach a question to get to the best insights.

If the idea of continuous learning excites you, then you wont be able to find a better career fit than research. Research is a great way to get exposed to a lot of different subject matter experts and strategic business questions that you may not get to experience in a different specialism.

When I was first starting out in research, someone described the sector to me as “the industry someone just falls in to when they don’t know what they want to do”. I think the branding of the sector is improving but could still use some work. I think we need to focus on promoting how research can support strategic decisions such as proving out marketing ROI, product prioritisation and investment, marketing campaign development etc.

Until I had a few years under my belt, I don’t think I fully understood how my work was being used and even now I’m still learning. As an overall positioning for the industry, acting as a trusted partner to different teams and helping them make better informed decisions sounds like a pretty great job to me.

I’ve been the lucky beneficiary of many people’s kindness and willingness to take a chance on me. So thanks to Robin Gillmore and Mary-Ellen Quirk for giving me my first chance and asking others to as well.

Thanks to my leaders Dale McCarter, Amanda Bourke and James Kyd who have always supported and championed me, the team and our work across the organisation and for being at the forefront of an insights driven culture. 

Thanks to Michelle Webb, Valerie Walshe and Luis Sanchez Castillo for always being generous with their time, support and advice and for creating opportunities for me to showcase my work. 

Thanks to Jennifer Calvey and Charles Drury, two exceptional craftspeople whom I’ve worked closely with over the years and have become a better strategist just by being in their orbit. 

And finally, thanks to all my colleagues at Xero who use, value, champion and care deeply about insights, small businesses and their advisors.