30under30 Honouree: Mark Hannan

Great to hear from our 2023 Global 30-under30 honouree, Mark Hannan, who is one of the co-founders and the Chief Data Officer for the start-up Emporia Research. As a former software developer, he’s built out much of the platform that Emporia Research uses and loves getting lost in either numbers or sports news. Sometimes both at the same time.

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

My journey into the market research industry was unplanned. After leaving my job at Goldman Sachs, I co-founded Emporia with two friends. Initially, we envisioned Emporia as a technology driven expert network, drawing from our experiences and observed challenges in our former roles.

However, as we built out the engine used to source professionals, we realised that there was so much more to this industry than just expert calls. That’s when we made the pivotal decision to focus on B2B research more broadly and we’ve been off to races ever since.

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

My proudest career moment is the decision to fully embrace entrepreneurship and start a company from the ground up. It was an aspiration that has resonated with me for as long as I can remember, and I knew I would never feel entirely fulfilled unless I took that risk. I’m incredibly grateful for the resources that have been made available to me throughout this journey.

The leap of faith into entrepreneurship is not just about the act itself, but the series of accomplishments (and challenges) that come with it. I take immense pride in what my team and I have managed to build over the years. Unlike in larger corporations, we have had the opportunity and the challenge of creating something entirely new.

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

First off, I think it’s really important to see the big picture. If you’re a newer researcher, don’t just focus on your own silo. Try to understand where your data is coming from, as it can help you make better conclusions. Likewise, understand how your work will be used – it can shape your research to be more useful. Always remember the ‘why’ of what you’re doing – what problem you’re solving or what goal you’re going after. Make sure this is clear to everyone before getting into the nitty-gritty details.

Second, it’s important to always be learning and changing. Stay open to new things in the field of research. Things are always changing in our industry, so being able to adjust is more than just a good skill to have – it’s a must-have.

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

If you see yourself playing a vital role in the field that drives global innovation, then this sector is a perfect fit for you! The market research industry is on the brink of a transformative era, with the advent of new technological advancements paving the way. There’s never been a more exciting time to step into this field. Your contributions to market research won’t just shape the future of this industry, but will also influence the trajectory of countless other sectors. It’s a unique opportunity to leave a substantial and lasting impact. Join us, and be part of shaping the future!

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

The advice I would like to share is centered around the importance of data quality. In the market research industry, the pursuit of results can sometimes lead us astray from our true objective – to provide accurate, reliable, and meaningful insights. While it might seem efficient to quickly fill up surveys or structure a problem in a way that is easier to comprehend, it’s crucial to remember that the value of our work depends on the quality of our data.

Good data is the foundation of any effective research. It lets us make reliable conclusions, tell convincing stories, and give useful insights. Bad or inaccurate data can lead us to wrong conclusions, and in the end, to poor decisions. Considering our work is used to make strategic decisions across many sectors, the impact of bad data can be huge.

On top of this, good data quality shows we’re committed to doing our job right. It helps build trust with our clients and those who use the information we give them. So, my advice for our field is to always prioritise good data – it’s what makes our research truly meaningful. Without it, we risk damaging our work, our reputation, and the decisions made based on our research.

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? 

Absolutely, I must mention Ted Pulsifer, an Executive Vice President at Sago. His understanding of the market research landscape has significantly shaped our own approach and growth. Ted was part of the early teams at several market research startups, and he’s shared the lessons he learned from those experiences with us. He’s given us practical insights into the challenges and opportunities you encounter when building a company from the ground up. So, a huge thanks to Ted for his guidance and for making a real difference to our journey.